Thursday, 27 January 2011

Siege

So I went on a camping trip to 6VDT-H.

The Fountain campaign has slowed down of late. Over the holiday we were busy bees, pulling major fleet operations on a daily basis, but mid-January saw us slacking off and merely deploying sedate weekend excursions into Z30S-A. This had two goals, firstly the permanent removal of the enemy jump bridge there, and secondly to defeat IT Alliance in it's favoured just-after-downtime-zone.

Unfortunately IT held the line the first time round, deploying a staggering number of capital ships and successfully defended their system. Immediately following up on this victory, they then attacked our staging system of B-DBYQ on the Fountain border, where upon they incapacitated our jump bridge and station services, and generally swung their dicks around in a provocative manner.

A week later Deklein Coalition returned to Z30S-A, this time with NC super-capitals on stand by, and ambushed the unsuspecting IT capital fleet defending the system. Being the earnest and dedicated reporter that I am, I of course overslept and missed the battle entirely. I did however rise from my slumber in time to join a reinforcement fleet to said system where over 1500 pilots engaged in the time honoured tradition of lagging the server node into oblivion. Subsequently SOUL CRUSHING LAG prevented us reaching our destination and whoring some Titan kill-mails, but from the gloating on comms it sounded like a significant victory had been won never the less.

In the intervening days between these major clashes, the enemy forces generally held sway in Fountain. In particular the J5A-IX and 3WE-KY systems were regularly camped by covert vessels eager to pounce on any of us foolish enough to travel alone into the region. And indeed, I was one such fool, but then jumping blind into gate camps is a sort of hobby of mine.

However mostly it's been fairly relaxed, with my corp Metanoia taking advantage of the lull in hostilities, to deploy a brand spanking new Caldari Research Outpost in MJYW-3. With a healthy number of belts and upgraded anomalies the system provides a leisurely retreat from the war, where I've spent several care free days trading ammo for Sepentis bounties.

Though perhaps it's been too quiet and relaxed. A fellow corp member voiced frustration the other day with the lack of progress in Fountain. In hindsight I suspect he was not alone. Last night The Mittani held a general assembly on Goons Teamspeak to address the present state of affairs, and talk about what direction the campaign would take next. He had expected a few hundred people perhaps to turn up and listen in. In the end he got over a thousand. The TS server itself threatened to collapse under the load.

Mittens delivered a short speech, and then made the big announcement. We were going to the IT staging system of 6VDT-H. We were going right now. We were going in overwhelming force to lay siege to the system for 5 long days, 23 hours a day and lock down everything the enemy had there. We would not be grinding sovereignty one system at a time. We would break the enemy in one single decisive action and take everything at once.

There must have been a lot of chomping at the bit going on over the last two weeks, because 5 minutes later 300 Maelstroms undocked, with equal numbers of additional support vessels. 15 minutes and several Titan Bridges later they were all in 6VDT-H.


The first target was the Gallente Administrative Outpost, which was encircled with warp interdiction spheres and Drakes. The Maelstroms then proceeded to the enemy cyno-jammer and took it down. Our capitals jumped in next, and in quick succession every enemy structure in system was either incapacitated or reinforced. Except for a few bomber attacks, the enemy had mounted no resistance. Staging POS were anchored and put online, and the stage was set for siege warfare.


All of this has happened before. Almost two years ago Goonswarm trapped the entire KenZoku fleet inside a single system in the closing days of the second Delve war, and it's basically the same stratagem again, with similar high stakes.

In few minutes time I'll log back in and find out successful or not this has been. In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in 6VDT-H, signing off.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Serious Business


So I was listening to 'Story Time With Mittens'.

We were in yet another Fountain operation blasting away at various cyno-jammers, infrastructure hubs and what nots, when our Glorious Goon Chairman came on comms to entertain us by voicing dramatic excerpts from the IT Alliance CEO forums. In previous days the monotony of sovereignty warfare had been broken by 'Sing Along With Ducky', obscenely shaped spaceship conga lines and the highlight of DBRB's pet dog calling primaries. Without this sort of morale boosting silliness, I think everyone would have gone mad by now.

The above mentioned IT forum porn is available at Kugutsumen for public consumption. If taken at face value, the former Band of Brothers would appear to be in the midst of a messy fratricide, as it's leaders race to pin the blame on each other for failures in Fountain, while sharpening their knives for when some poor bastard steps out of line as the inevitable scapegoat.

Of course, such a well versed propagandist as The Mittani isn't going to leak anything that would show off Sir Molle and company in a good light. But even if he's being very selective, it still paints a grim picture of our opponents' morale. Additionally it confirms something I had suspected for a while now, in that IT Alliance has been penetrated to it's highest levels by our covert agents.

Deklein Coalition morale on the other hand is high, with the Fleet Commanders sounding confident and occasionally even blasé over comms. Their decision making seems to be consistently good during major operations, which I attribute to the quality of intel they presumably receive both before and during the big engagements. In the smaller battles and roams, it tends to feel different. They sound less sure of themselves, more wary of the enemy, and indeed it's in these smaller engagements were IT and it's allies have generally performed much better.

As the war continues, it's appetite for destruction is becoming apparent. The alpha fleet doctrine has already caused Maelstrom prices to rise, and New Eden's stocks of named 1400mm artillery are steadily dwindling. Thankfully however, there's been no shortage of enemy wrecks to loot for replacement artillery, and our own attrition rates have been low. Still there's a limit to how long this level of campaigning can be sustained both physically and mentally even when you're winning.

However the greatest danger we face is probably over-confidence. Already two titans have been lost in some what reckless endeavours, and only last night IT scored a fleet victory in LIWW-P. So as much as the old timers claim that IT is only a shell of it's former self, there's clearly some fight left in our enemy yet.

In the meantime this is Rebecca Aventine somewhere in Fountain, signing off.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The Longest Day


So I went and joined a fleet to defend Fountain.

With nothing else to do that day, I figured dying in a ball of fire would be the ideal 'kill or cure' remedy for a New Year's hangover. That and I happened to log in just as a fleet was forming up. Thankfully I had already gone through the torturous authorisation process to get on Goon comms, so I didn't have to deal with a byzantine system of checks and balances that otherwise would have fried what few remaining brain cells I had.  A few others weren't so lucky, but I was unmoved by their pitiful cries for help. I had barely understood the process sober, no point trying to explain it in my present state.

Our Fleet-Commander was a fast mover, so much so that I often lagged behind, bleary eyed and wondering what the hell was going on. We had barely formed up when the call went out to start moving. A few jumps later I was sat in a POS staring at an Erebus Titan. A swarm of Maelstroms surrounded me, so I figured I must be in the right place.


We sat there for a while admiring the sleek Gallente lines of the Titan. I was tempted to move in and give it a friendly nudge, but it's pilot was quite vocal about us keeping our distance. Suddenly the bridge went up, and we attempted to jump through to our destination. But there were just too damn many of us. Traffic control denied my requests to jump and it was with some difficulty and much delay that we eventually made it through.

My recollections of the day are some what hazy, and it doesn't help that the majority of null systems have meaningless collections of numbers and letters for names. In short, we flew back and forth a bit and ended up somewhere else. Apparently it was an enemy system. There we deployed along side our capital fleet and reinforced some dude's Outpost. It's this sort of high quality coverage that gives EVE PRIVATEER it's good name.

Through out the day I randomly hit 'PrtScn' and hoped the resulting images would make some form of narrative sense later. This shotgun method means I usually end up with a few good shots that I can actually use. On reflection I'm not entirely sure how the midget porn got in there, though perhaps some mysteries are best left unsolved.

This image stands out though.


We had returned from the raid on the outpost to defend PNQY-Y from IT Alliance. However a couple of hours remained until the station there came out of reinforcement mode. After taking a break, I logged back in to witness the terrifying sight of  IT's super-capital fleet laying in wait outside the shield of the Goon POS. In Providence, Evoke's titan and eight super-carriers had looked impressive, but that memory paled in comparison to what IT had deployed here. I figured we were totally screwed.

As more of the Deklein Coalition fleet logged back to join us early birds, Local rose to over a thousand. The node was beginning to show the strain, so much so that I  temporarily lost connection. Logging back in, I lagged so badly that by the time my display initiatised I had already warped back to the POS. This was a problem, since I hadn't had time to re-enter the POS password, and subsequently had been ejected 100km outside.

The IT support fleet took note of this and began targeting my Maelstrom. It was looking like I'd be applying to the TEST reimbursement program soon. Time for me to be somewhere else. I picked a random planet and hit warp, and prayed that my battleship would align before any interceptors burning towards me arrived. Still lagging badly I found myself in warp perhaps a minute later. It seemed I had escaped.

Or perhaps not, since an enemy Sabre was already waiting for me as I arrived at the planet. Months of roaming through null-sec solo had paid off though. Instinctively I had not warped to zero, so there was a good 50km between me and the interdictor. I picked another random celestial and warped out as a hundred or more enemy battleships arrived on grid.

After bouncing around the system for a while I finally rejoined the fleet just in time to lose connection again. I guess it was only to be expected in a battle of this size. I took the opportunity to secure EVE more bandwidth, by squeezing Teamspeak's down until it was barely intelligible. By now it sounded like something important was happening. Our FC was either calling primaries or shouting bingo numbers like a manic. Time to get back in the fight.

I returned once more. There was a major lag spike as grid loaded, but otherwise the node was holding steady. Our mighty Maelstroms appeared to be alpha striking the IT support fleet into dust. No wonder our FC was shouting primaries so fast, he could barely keep up as enemy battleships vapourised beneath the collective volleys of massed 1400s. In the end I gave up trying to follow what he was saying and just spammed targets in alphabetical order, and opened fire.

A short while later the surviving enemy warped to safety, leaving behind a impressive grave yard of floating wreckage. We had taken a few loses, mostly Scorpions I think, but already Wildly Inappropriate reinforcements were bridging in.


Did we destroy the enemy Sovereignty Blockade Units next, or had that already happened? My memories of the day are blurred. Certainly at some point the station was repaired, the system secured, and victory declared.

It appeared that we had won. Though as I guided my Maelstrom home to it's berth, I was at a loss to explain how. What had happened to the impressive number of enemy super-capitals? What had our capitals been up to? Did Ackbarre need GROON?

It's a sign of experience that our FC pretty much gave us the minimum necessary information during the operation. It was simply taken for granted that spies would be present. I guess that's the difference between younger alliances and ones that have held sovereignty for years. Back in OWN  Alliance a whole defence fleet was once routed by a single Evoke spy, and I've heard similar stories in Providence.

In the end, someone out there has a much clearer idea of what happened in PNQY-Y than me. Hopefully, they'll be a good sport and post it on EVE News24 so I can finally get the big picture.

In the meantime this Rebecca Aventine somewhere in Cloud Ring, signing off.