Epic Games vs Apple – Round 1 coming up

Legal proceedings between Apple and Epic Games will be coming to a head next month, according to a recent Bloomberg article.  Regardless of where you might fall in the debate, I think most would have to agree that Apple’s legal argument is somewhat dubious.  According to Bloomberg, Apple intends to argue at trial that it’s 30% commission is neither harmful, nor unusual; Stating that companies like Epic benefit greatly from Apple’s ecosystem and its app review process.  There’s great validity in this argument, but there are also glaring holes which will be key in the trial. 

Apple created an ecosystem in which users can only access and upload applications from Apple’s single app store.  Apple maintains a rigorous review process which developers must undergo before their apps are released to users within the app store, so there is a higher degree of centralization and general overall security than in the decentrallized Android ecosystem.  If the debate were to end here it would weigh heavily in Apple’s favor.  But it doesn’t.

The cost to developers for the centralized iOS ecosystem is a 30% commission on all purchases and payments to developers.  Epic’s argument, and the argument of many other iOS developers is that Apple created the ecosystem in such a way that it traps users and developers.  And that a 30% commission is extraordinary. Think of the ecosystem as a walled garden, with a single entrance.  You live inside the garden and purveyors can only sell you goods and services if they come through the entrance.  Why must there be a single entrance?  Why did Apple decide there must only be a single entrance when Google has shown that an ecosystem can be created with multiple entrances.

Apple’s argument for this relies almost entirely on security, when in fact that is an element completely within their control.  iOS’s security constraints are within Apple’s sole control.  Why couldn’t Apple have enabled iOS to accept Apps from other, non-Apple controlled stores as well?  That’s what Google did with Android.  Android users can load apps from the Google Play store, or from any other store of their choosing.

I’ll tell you why Apple doesn’t allow this.  Because they don’t want to.  Because they’d lose their ability to charge developers 30% commission if developers could post their apps to competing iOS stores instead. When Epic Games attempted to roll out an app update that circumvented Apple’s ability to collect their 30% commission Apple shut them out. Apple didn’t shut out Amazon when they did something substantially similar with the Kindle app, however. Something Epic has commented on at various points in the lead up to trial.

Apple’s argument that a 30% commission is normal, ignores the point that they are essentially an industry of one. The norm is whatever they themselves create. The norm could have been 10%, had they set that from the beginning. It also ignores that the commission is levied unevenly.

As an iOS user, I don’t personally care whether there is one store, or multiple stores, per se, so long as security within iOS is maintained.  What I do intensely care about, however, is that with a single store, Apple, and Apple alone, has ultimate authority and power to censor.  Applications that otherwise break no laws but are removed and banned from the service for purely political reasons are the biggest argument in Epic Games favor in my opinion, and Its why I favor Epic Games against Apple.  Big tech companies, like Apple, should not be making content decisions on behalf of me, myself, and I.

I’m highly simplifying the issues that will be in question at what will unquestionably be a highly technical and complicated trial, to be sure.  And the trial will be only the first step in a multi-year legal battle.  But one doesn’t need a court, or a trial, to decide where one falls on the issue of policy.  I fall now, and always will, on the side of user freedom.  And in this instance, Apple is not on that side.

Wait, it’s April already?

Here it is, already April.  How did that happen?  It didn’t exactly “sneak” up on me, as I had to start cutting my lawn in mid-March.  But it feels like January was just a few short weeks ago, not three months ago.  In years past I’d be as busy as a bee right now, exercising, gaming.. In general, just getting out and about.  Instead, I’m still partially hibernating.  I haven’t been very active.  Haven’t exercised at all, and I’m not even gaming.  I guess it’s not really hard to understand how April snuck up on me after all.  It doesn’t feel like April, because I’m not doing most things I normally do by this point in the year.

I’ll shake myself out of hibernation soon, I’m sure.  I have a few “honey do” projects to take care of, and I can start hiking and exercising again with the incoming good weather.  And although, I don’t anticipate doing much PC gaming in the near term, I will be starting back up with D&D soon.  I was expecting my D&D group to have already started, but it appears it may be another 2-3 weeks before we get together.  Unfortunate, but not the end of the world.

In the meantime I’m catching up on Critical Role, binging a lot of series and movies, and have been working on a new home entertainment system. Instead of a literal wall of DVDs, we now have a NAS and ability to stream content throughout the house.

A few other random thoughts:
– I have no idea what’s going on with Blizzard, but the fact that the 9.1 patch will just be hitting the PTR next week is a big yikes. Shadowlands officially has the longest opening patch by far, with estimates for 9.1 being released to live being anywhere from July to August. Wow.

– Try as I might, I simply can’t get excited about the Suicide Squad reboot. If I find time to watch it, fine. Otherwise I won’t lose any sleep if I miss it.

– The Dune series is my favorite book series. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve re-read the series over the years, so one would think I’d be effervescent over Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation. Yet I’m not. I feel a lot of trepidation. I’m not thrilled with some of the casting, and I’m not ecstatic by some of Villeneuve’s comments regarding adaptation. You don’t improve on works like Dune, and I’d rather there be a faithful re-telling than someone attempting to adapt it to their vision.

Godzilla vs Kong – Spoiler Free Review

I like King Kong.  He’s one of my favorite “monsters” of all times, so it was with a particular sense of glee that I sat down to watch Godzilla vs. Kong Friday night.  After Skull Island I was definitely up for more Kong.  Unfortunately for me, my sense of glee didn’t carry me through the viewing.  We began to part ways somewhere around the first action sequence, and by the movie’s mid-point we hadn’t seen each other for a while.  It was one of those partings where you look over and notice your companion isn’t there.  You have no idea when they slunk off, but you frankly don’t care either.  It was an amicable parting.

Sadly, I have little else to say other than I found the plot to be thread bare and forgettable, the human characters to have provided little value to the movie, and the fight scenes to be skimpy.  The fight scenes – around 13 minutes of the 113 minute total – were the most redeeming quality of the movie, in my view.  To skimp on the core draw is just mind boggling.

Godzilla vs Kong is the second feature film to be released directly to HBOMax, which from various reports has apparently been a good arrangement for HBO thus far.  From a consumer perspective it makes swallowing a sour pill more palatable.  If I’d paid box office prices to see this, I’d have walked out an unhappy man.  But since it’s part of my subscription, there was no real harm.  I saw it once, and I’m unlikely to want to see it again.

I give Godzilla vs Kong a 4 out of 10.

Zach Snyder’s Justice League non-spoiler review

If you haven’t heard, the long awaiting Snyder cut of Justice League has finally been released.  Currently available exclusively on HBO Max, you’ll have to sign up for a subscription to see it.  But it’s worth the effort.  I’ll get right to the point, and for those worried about spoilers, this will be a spoiler free review.  Read on!  Zach Snyder’s Justice League is a dramatically better movie than the original release.  The story is cohesive and sensible, the characters are fleshed out, and the film’s main villain is more menacing, more powerful, but most importantly, more believable.  Bring some snacks though, because the movie has an unbelievable run time of 4 hours.  And whilst you may be thinking there must be a lot of filler, trust me when I tell you there isn’t.  Snyder capitalizes on almost every minute of run time.  There’s some fat on the meat for sure, but not a lot.  He needed 4 hours to tell his story, though believe it or not, the movie still ends with something of a cliff hangar that is likely to cause a bit of confusion.  I said the movie was dramatically better, not that it was perfect.  I’d give the movie a solid 7 out of 10.  And for comparison sake, I gave the original release a 3 out of 10.

With all that out of the way, lets get into some specifics.  And again, this will be spoiler free.  The high points of the movie were clearly a better story, which received massive updates from the original, and character improvement. 

The story picks up immediately after the fateful fight between Superman and Doomsday, in Batman, vs Superman.  It covers a lot of the same territory of the original release and doesn’t really begin to branch out into very new territory for a good hour or so.  Snyder has to build the same premise that Whedon did after all.  From there the story begins to feel more different, in spite of foundational and structural similarities with the original release.  The action builds quickly and you end up completely not realizing you’ve been sitting for an hour, or two hours.  Leading up to the third act I couldn’t wait to see what was coming, and I’m happy to report I wasn’t disappointed.  Snyder greatly improved upon the climax, though sadly the narrative’s biggest flaw from the original release remains. 

While the Snyder cut did a fantastic job of sweeping the worst of the plot elements from 2017 under the rug where they deserve to be, there remain a few nagging plot elements that were not dramatically improved.  Such as Steppenwolf’s choice of base location.  It made absolutely no sense whatsoever in the original release, though the addition of a single line of dialogue in Snyder’s cut does ostensibly add some validity to it.  The veneer is mighty thin, however.

Unfortunately, the underlying premise of the movie remains weak.  Bruce Wayne is spending a lot of time trying to build a team for a threat he doesn’t truly see or understand.  His motivation is built upon the fragile skeleton, an ideal that I don’t feel is completely plausible.  Though obviously, through the miracle of story construction it becomes prophetic.  DC did themselves a great disservice by trying to skip ahead in the larger narrative.  Unlike Marvel, which took the time to build character and motivation up through a series of movies, DC went straight for the final prize and Justice League can’t escape that simple fact.

With 4 hours of run time, all the characters receive much more screen time, but those characters that felt like simple adornment in the original – looking at you Cyborg, and Flash – benefited the most from Snyder’s loving attention.  Aquaman, to a lesser degree though also receiving dramatically more screen time and story modification.  I’ll speak more about him later. 

Cyborg and Flash feel like completely different characters from those we saw in 2017.  You could have easily cut both characters from the original release and not missed them in the least.  Not so this movie, however.  They both fill important and dynamic roles within the team, and the movie that many will appreciate.  I was an avowed anti-Ezra Miller member, generally disliking his portrayal of the Flash after the original release.  But I’m begrudgingly re-examining my stance after seeing the re-release.  Don’t get me wrong, I still think casting could have been better for the character.  But Snyder absolutely pulled more out of Miller this go around.  Its also pretty clear that Ray Fisher got a raw deal from Josh Whedon in 2017 because he shined for Snyder.  He won’t win any academy awards, but you may be left wondering where this character was back in 2017.  Ray Fisher had a lot more to say with his Cyborg than Whedon gave him time to say.  And I’m very happy we got to see it now.

But of all the characters in the movie who gained the most from Snyder’s attention, it was Steppenwolf.  Not only did the character receive a physical makeover, but his entire motivation and back story are different from the original release.  It was a consistent point of criticism in 2017 that little about Steppenwolf made any sense.  I’d be surprised if anyone says that now.  The character steps up massively, metaphorically amply filling the shoes he should have filled in 2017.  He feels like the juggernaut he always should have, bookending his master quite well.  After 30 minutes you’re left thinking no one is going to stop this guy, and by the end of the movie you’re left thinking if Steppenwolf was that powerful, how powerful must his master be?  Mission accomplished.

Despite great improvement over the original release, there were other issues I want to specifically touch on.  The first of which some may find to be nothing more than a nitpick, but I found it to be so distracting that I’m mentioning it first amongst my complaints.  Snyder chose to produce Justice League in 1.33:1 aspect ratio, instead of widescreen, leaving wide dark stripes on either side of the picture when viewed on a wide screen television.  Whether or not the aspect Snyder chose fits IMAX better is irrelevant in my mind when most of one’s audience will be watching the movie on wide screen televisions.  I get that directors sometimes wax artistic but seeing wide black bands on either side of the picture is an eyesore.  Bands along the top and bottom of the picture likely would not have even been noticed, but on the sides they very much are.

Another is Jason Malmoa.  His performance is better from the original, having more screen time and most especially back story devoted to his character.  But he was still a poor casting choice, and no re-release will change that.  His acting is wooden, and is essentially the same regardless of the movie he’s in.  He’s not a dynamic actor capable of showing a range of emotion, and his portrayal of Arthur Curry suffered for it.  Though, to be completely honest, the final script didn’t seek any performance from him, outside of the moody, often aggressive one he delivered.  Whether that was by design, or happenstance is something we certainly can’t answer from the movie alone.

There is also a new character that wasn’t portrayed in the original release, who sadly ends up feeling shoehorned in.  The first of his two scenes left me wondering why a specific sequence was filmed the way it was.  It felt gratuitous and rushed to me, though perhaps it had some small pay off in his second scene.  We’re left with little understanding of his significance, or role within the in-film future.  If you’re going to take the time to develop a 4 hour film, and introduce a new character within it, one would think the director would take necessary time to make proper introduction.  He didn’t.  Sadly, the characters CGI also needed more work.  It looks bad.  Its easily the single biggest area of the entire movie that could have used additional time and work.

Group chemistry is also lacking.  The characters come together, but it feels forced.  There’s no real bond and we as viewers are unfortunately left to infer what visibly isn’t present.  Its again, an effect of the rushed narrative.  What could have developed over the course of several movies is instead rushed within one single one.  Its simply not believable, which isn’t the feeling you want viewers to be left with when building a franchise.

Let us hope that DC sees the light and will allow Snyder to carry on with the work he started before tragically having to step away from Justice League’s original production.  Obviously his family should have come first, but we have – and more importantly, he has, an opportunity to build the DC cinematic universe so many of us want to see.

Catching Up

Hard to believe its been over two years since I posted last. A lot has changed, so let me quickly catch you up. When last I posted, my gaming entertainment mainly focused around EVE Online (EVE) and World of Warcraft (WoW), but I stopped playing EVE a few months after my last post and haven’t logged back in. Sadly, I’ve felt no draw to play again and may never. There are many reasons, but for the brevity of this post I’ll save it for discussion another day. Even more sadly, I’m not even playing WoW. I was tremendously disappointed with the BFA expansion, and find little of interest in the SL expansion. Coupled with a general sense of disappointment in Blizzard this point marks the first time in 16 years I’m not playing an MMORPG at all, let alone the MMO I’ve been playing since 2005.

But that’s not what I want to focus on. Where one door closes, another often opens. And in my case, the door that opened is Dungeons & Dragons (D&D)! I grew up playing D&D; played it heavily through High School when family and work responsibilities crowded it out. I didn’t play again until 2015, but then only for a few months. It’s hard to believe it now, but there were much fewer online play opportunities just those few years ago and since I was finding it quite difficult to enjoy playing in often crowded and extremely noisy gaming stores, I wasn’t sure I’d actually play again.

Thankfully, through the explosion of recent online play opportunities I’ve found my way back to D&D. I actually was involved with an in-person group in December, but after the DM contracted COVID-19 the group fell apart, as one would expect. The DM recovered and is well, by the way. But that experience reinforced for me the lesson that while I’ve been careful, I can’t necessarily count on everyone else. After some sleuthing about online looking at different groups, I now find myself waiting for my new campaign to start up. Curse of Strahd, no less. What a campaign to welcome me back into the fold!

For those unfamiliar, Curse of Strahd is the D&D 5th Edition reboot of the wildly famous Ravenloft module from 1st Edition D&D, which I played and greatly enjoyed when it was originally released.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Count Strahd von Zarovich again.

I’ve also discovered Critical Role. I’m hooked.  I’m enthralled.  Love the show.  I started watching at episode 116 of the second campaign, but found I was missing a lot of context and recently decided I needed to watch from the beginning of the current campaign.  I’m watching episode 33 right now, as I type this as a matter of fact, so I have a lot of catching up to do and will be doing so for quite a while to come I’m sure.

But where’s the gaming, right?  D&D is cool and all, but that’s not “real gaming”, right? Well, I’m playing remarkably little “real gaming”.  I’ve been playing World of Warships (WoWS) the past few months, though I’m currently taking a break.  And I’ve played a few others, on and off.  Baldurs Gate 3, being one of those.  But I’ve lost most of my faith in the gaming industry.  With few exceptions, it seems that every new game is an over-priced, bug ridden mess that I’m happy I didn’t play. 

And lastly, seemingly like everyone else in the world, I completed the initial phase of a months long home remodel last fall.  By last November I was more than ready for a remodel break.  We had planned more projects for this summer, but I don’t honestly think I have it in me.  I don’t mind painting the shed, house shutters, building another set of shelves in the garage, and putting in a bit more yard drainage.  But I don’t think I’m ready to build an enclosed back deck, let alone deal with contractors to extend the back of the house.  I want 2021 to be a bit more chill, with a lot more gaming.  Real, or otherwise.

Ciao for now!  Lets see if I keep up with the blog better than I have, up to now.

A tale of two pictures

First this happened (x2) in Oijanen

2 destroyed TEST Raitarus in Oijanen today

A STRATOP was scheduled for today, but I didn’t find out what it was until we jumped into Oijanen. TEST was moving as much as they could out of Oijanen, and our job was to make it as difficult for them as possible. But first we had to destroy two TEST Raitarus that were coming out of reinforcement. TEST didn’t contest either of the stations, so those were quick work.

Then this happened. After the stations we waited on the Airaken gate for the first of what I assume would be several sub-capital fleets leaving Oijenen today. We didn’t have to wait long. We didn’t agress in Oijanen but jumped in Airaken the same time TEST’s fleet did. Fun ensued on the other side of the gate.

Waiting for TEST’s sub-cap fleet on the Airaken gate

I think more pods made it back to Perimeter, than ships, in this fleet. We followed all the way there, picking off as many stragglers as we could. Including this poor sap. We docked up as soon as we arrived in Perimeter, then self destructed pods for the free trip back home. The additional ships we left in Perimeter will be useful in the near future.

Tranquility Trading Tower saved as Pandemic Horde decline battle

After Saturday night’s festivities in Perimeter, I, and many other of my line member comrades in Pandemic Horde, were looking forward to the prospect of returning to battle over the Armor timer Monday night.  But, alas, it wasn’t to be.  PH and friends did not return and the Tranquility Trading Tower Keepstar was fully repaired by Test.  In any event, I had the timer incorrect.  It occurred during Monday afternoon when I was at work, so wouldn’t have been able to join in the battle either way.  But it turns out Test pulled a PH, and decided to provoke a response after their Keepstar was repped.  Apparently there was instead, some fun, in Oijanen Monday afternoon, which resulted in many fireworks, and ended with Supers being dropped.

So there I was Monday afternoon, stuck at work, hearing about all the goings on and feeling a strong sense of disappointment.  I get it.  From the PH and PANFAM perspective, we didn’t need to fight over the TTT armor timer.  Saturday night’s TTT battle wasn’t the primary objective, no matter how fun it ended up being.  Strategically, PH achieved its objective.  So while we apparently had no intention of escalating in perimeter Monday, I know I’m not alone in wishing we had.  I was still hyped up and wasn’t sated yet.  Turns out I didn’t have to wait long after getting home to find something else to do.  A ping went out about two stations needing defense, with the first station coming out of reinforcement about 2 hours ahead of the other.  I was able to fleet for the first defense, but not the second.

But this time I didn’t fleet up to pew pew, but rather to apply some soothing logi to those in need.  I’d been wanting to get into logi for quite a while, actually training most of the skills needed back in 2010-2012.  All I had to finish was Logi 5, though I have a few nagging rep drone skills to finish up soon and still in need of Amaar Cruiser 5 and Minmatar Cruiser 5.  For now, I can fly Basilisk/Osprey, Augoror, and Scythe.  I may not fleet as logi all the time from here on, but I expect I’ll be doing it for most large battles.  I wasn’t sure what to expect Monday night, and figured it was as good a time as any to begin my logi career.

As things happened, the battle was relatively minor.  We lost only 3 mainline doctrine ships, though the TEST/GOON fleet lost significantly more and bugged out within 15 minutes of hostilities commencing.  I assumed going into the battle that I wouldn’t have any problems getting a few killmails, having my trusty set of drones standing by.  Unfortunately, it became apparent that simply wasn’t going to be the case.  With 100km or more dividing the fleets at all times, it was outside drone range.  History won’t record the fact I was there Monday night, though I’d like to think those I helped to save appreciate me.  Even if they don’t know my name.

More interestingly, however was the aftermath of the battles.  Apparently it’s not possible to have a battle; for there to be winners, and losers, and the loser rogers up “GF” and carries on.  Apparently, if a defending force, protecting its own space, acts according to its best interest, ruffles sensitive feathers.  Yesterday we we’re treated to another litany of despair regarding capital ships and certain tactics, making it impossible for attackers looking for “gud fights”.

Unlike many, I harbor no illusions regarding space bushido.  There is none.  Its human nature, after all, that a person, or group, will use whatever force is at their disposal to defend themselves.  Even if it’s overwhelming force.  PH owes nothing more to TEST that to act in its own interest.  And in fact, this is exactly what TEST did when PL/NC were attacking it in the south.  PL/NC deployed south without supers and it went no better for them than the recent TEST deployment in the north.  An attacking force has responsibility to bring whatever force it deems necessary to achieve its goal.  And upon finding that to have failed, decisions have to be made.

If anything, the new drama simply illustrates that certain people want their cake, and to eat it too.  Even while advocating for the removal of super capital class ships all together, they maintain their own very large super capital fleet.  And don’t hesitate to use them when it best suits.  Which is to say, often. 

But there are also those wanting defenders to “fight fair”.  In other words, fight in a manner which they dictate, because reasons.   The situation in question occurred during the fights between PANFAM and TEST/GOONS Monday night at the two PH Fortizars.  We arrived first, ahead of the ref timer and tethered up on the station to see what would happen.  Not long after a combined TEST/GOON fleet arrived about 100km off and didn’t approach.  Our FC soon sent tackle down to tackle whatever they could, and simultaneously had carriers send Sirens (also tackle).  Anything the FC called out was soon alpha’d off the field.  TEST/GOONS warped off and back a couple times, and in between we’d tether up again.  This specific tactic apparently runs afoul of someone’s idea of fairness.

But there’s an inconvenient fact here that is being ignored.  Ships on tether can’t target, or fight, without losing tether.  Making them targetable, and attackable, in return.  It also belays the point that TEST used tether on their TTT Keepstar Saturday night.  Which in no way stopped us from attacking the station, ultimately prompted TEST to untether in order to attack, in turn.  The fact we were tethering didn’t stop TEST/GOONS from attacking either of our Fortizars, and we could not have remained tethered and simultaneously defended the stations.  The drama over the tactic is simply a red herring.

Most often I’ve found drama, such as this, to be a thin veneer thrown over failure.  It’s easier to cast blame elsewhere rather than face up to personal mistakes.  Whether those be in tactics, inability to execute, or something else.  But doing so is a tremendous obstacle to long term success.  You can’t learn from mistakes if you never accept that mistakes were made.  Some learn that in time, others won’t.

Perimeter battle with TEST was a fun meat grinder

Test’s TTT Keepstar was shield reinforced in a massive battle against PANFAM last night

Anyone who’s been playing EVE for a while knows that Perimeter has become a true battleground in recent months. TEST pushed out IChooseYou and Pandemic Horde from the alliance owned market space last Fall and thus far has been able to operate Tranquility Trading Tower with virtual impunity ever since. PH reinforced shields over the Christmas period but didn’t go back for the Armor timer and hasn’t made much of an effort to remove TTT from grid since then. What has been happening, however, is a constant influx of new trading structure have been dropped in order to undercut TEST’s market profits and grind their will to continue down.

Many of those structures are blotted from existence within a couple days. And most are not defended. But occasionally they are, and last night was one of those instances where a large fleet was formed to defend a friendly armor timer. When TEST didn’t show up to contest leadership decided to reinforce TTT instead. We were all dressed up and didn’t want to go home feeling blue. 5 hours later TTT’s shield was reinforced and 60B ISK in ships had been lost.

When the pings first started going out that an important Strat Op was forming I was busy with my wife and couldn’t join up. In fact, I wouldn’t be able to join up for the Op, which grew into something much bigger than originally planned, for another 3 hours. But when I was finally free to log into EVE my wife broke out into laughter. Apparently I looked like an excited kid on Christmas morning. I literally ran to the Den and logged into EVE as fast as I could. But it took me about 30 minutes before I could haul in some ships with my hisec hauler, because there was no way I was going to warp in a Ferox from our O-V all the way to Perimeter through a string of hostile space. I had been lax in pre-positioning ships in Perimeter prior to last night, but that has been rectified by this morning. I’m ready for whatever comes next time.

But last night I had some initial hauling to do with my alt while I frantically burned to Perimeter in my Interceptor. Once shipped up I joined the overflow fleet (there was no room in the main fleet…) and spent the next hour guarding the Jita gate and racking up a number of kills. Streams of capsules were heading through the gate into Jita in order to re-ship, and occasionally TEST pilots would come back through the gate hoping to warp off before they could be tackled. For those trying to re-ship, I had already found Jita practically bare of Ferox’s an hour earlier. I paid a 20M premium for the two hulls I purchased, and it only went higher from there. I saw hulls going up on the market for 100M, which were selling. It was an industrialists wet dream last night, if they had hulls to sells.

Earlier in the battle Test brought a Battleship heavy fleet up against our Ferox doctrine but were unable to break our back or push us off TTT. Wave, after wave, of the TEST fleet threw itself at PH, finally shipping down into a Ferox doctrine fleet as well. From that point I’ve heard the battle described as a “knife fight in a bathtub” — RonUSMC [TEST], which is as apt a description as I could come up with myself. So we’ll go with that.

As the StratOp crossed the four hour point the overflow FC had to head off and TEST finally pushed us off the Jita gate. It was at that point I was able to join the main fleet and move up to the Keepstar. Test was still sending small waves at the PH fleet, but in truth the fight was largely over. The shield inexorably ticked down, and when it crossed below 5% you could hear the excitement rising on comms. Nearly 5 hours in to the Op and all you could hear were pilots ready for more. The fight isn’t one of the biggest of battles to ever happen in EVE’s history, but its very rare to see hisec battles approaching anything of this magnitude. It was a meat grinder to say the least, and I’m happy to note that it was PH turning the handle this time around.

So what comes next? I have no idea, but speaking only for myself I hope we go back for the armor timer. Reports are that Goons will be joining TEST for the armor timer. And make no mistake, TEST must show for their timer, regardless of whether we do. The position TEST finds itself in is not enviable. They control the alliance market space in the Forge, but its far from their home base in the south, whereas its immediately next door for PH. Strictly speaking, TEST can’t control the battlefield. And that was precisely what TEST’s recent campaign into Geminate was all about. They sought to keep PH busy in Geminate, and out of Perimeter. But they’d lost when they decided not deploy their Super Cap fleet. No one knew how badly the “war” would go for them at the time, however. It went badly.

So even if PH ultimately decides to eschew the armor timer this time around, we can go back any time we choose. We can reinforce the shields over, and over, and over again. Imagine how demoralizing that might feel to constantly be on the receiving end of attacks on your key strategic asset and never being able to fully secure it? Always having to respond, only to see the enemy not show up for the next battle. Always having to be on the ball, when the enemy only has to be on the ball once. Can this go on all Winter? Spring? Summer? We’ll see.

TEST isn’t alone, however. For all of the posturing that TEST and GOONS aren’t allies, the evidence says otherwise. Frenemies, or whatever, I expect GOONS to get more involved. They did when TEST launched their campaign into Germinate, largely responsible for the shenanigans in Kalevala. But are GOONS willing to make a major deployment to the NE in order to support TEST? This is the real question I’m waiting to see answered. Events may have started last night in a Perimeter meat grinder of a battle, but it’s likely last night won’t be the end of it when all is said and done.