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.

First month in Pandemic Horde

Action late in the TTT Perimeter fight last night

It’s been a month since I joined Pandemic Horde, and what an exciting month it’s been.  Immediately after joining PH at the end of December we line members started hearing about an upcoming TEST Alliance campaign against our space.  Which, incidentally, started shortly afterward.  Talk about immediately getting thrown into the deep end of the pool.  I basically went from not playing EVE for 3-4 years, to deciding to play again, to playing for a month and coming to the old realization that playing in hisec with a small corp wasn’t enough for me, to joining a very large nullsec corporation, to WAR WITH ANOTHER VERY LARGE NULLSEC CORPORATION.  And not a war in some far-off region, but one literally on our doorstep that was having continuous impact throughout our space.

Although Test’s official campaign didn’t go well for them, ending after only a week of its official start, the prior low-level hostilities continue to some degree.  Smallish Test fleets still do periodic roams through our gate system and surrounding space, but there aren’t the great fleets and extended camping any longer.  We’ve settled into skirmish raids that usually get handled quickly by our standing fleet.  Though the test roams have subsided considerably within the last 7-10 days.  There’s still activity going on in Kalevala, however.

To some, this might have felt overwhelming, but it’s exactly what I’ve wanted from EVE Online from day one.  I wish I’d gotten involved in Null space when I started playing in 2009, otherwise I’d likely never have quit (repeatedly).  My brief foray into Null in 2010 notwithstanding.  

There’s always something to do; always fleets, whether for response actions, mining, roams, or battles like we had in Perimeter last night.  And if you don’t have time for fleet activity, there’s plenty exploration, PI, industry, or ratting to your hearts content, to keep you busy.  I suspect mileage may vary from the very large alliances, to the smaller ones.  But from the perspective of a player who wants to experience everything EVE has to offer, fleeing hisec was the wisest choice I ever made. 

Joining PH has to be the second.  Not that I have a huge range of experience on the matter, but I can assure any new player interested, you won’t go wrong joining PH.  The on boarding process couldn’t be easier, and there’s a host of caretakers who are there to take care of you while you grow.  The culture in PH is great and is very inviting to new players.  For that matter, even to older players who haven’t experienced Nullsec before.

So what have I been doing for the last month, exactly? My ability to join fleets is somewhat constrained by various responsibilities, so I’ve generally only been able to fleet up 2-3 times a week on average (not counting random response fleets). But even then I’ve already experienced more kills than I have in the previous 9 years combined. Even counting my FW alt I created back in 2012. But what I have had a lot of time to do is ratting. I say “a lot”, but I generally only spend 1-2 hours of ratting a day. Unfortunately my ratting this past month has gone entirely to building up my personal fleet of ships. Although I still need to buy a few more ships, I expect a majority of my ratting proceeds from here on will instead build my wallet.

I also activated my remaining accounts. I’m having too much fun playing EVE again not to. Outside of my main, I have my hisec hauler/market/industry character, a second hauler/market/industry character, a Cap pilot skilling up, and a FAX pilot skilling up. I plan on bringing everybody except my hisec hauler into PH within the coming weeks. All part of a plan to achieve goals I’ve had from early in my EVE playing experience, but wasn’t able to achieve previously. I want to grow within PH and PanFam, but I also want to build an industrial base to help me grow space rich! Cap pilot and Fax pilot to experience the truly big fleet battles I’ve marveled at for years, but which were always so far out of my reach.

It’ll be some weeks, to months yet before I have everything I plan on doing set in place. But I suspect by the time Summer rolls around, my industrial aspirations will be in full swing. My Cap pilot will also be fully trained and my Fax pilot will be significantly along in his training plan as well. When I started playing EVE again in early December I never thought for a moment that I’d think this. But EVE may supplant WoW as my main gaming pastime. In all the previous instances where I’ve played EVE, I’ve played for a few months before going back to WoW. But in every instance, I never thought EVE wasn’t a “momentary” thing. WoW had been my main game since early 2005, and while I’ve taken small breaks to play other games over the years, those breaks had always been short. But I feel completely different this time around. At least from the point when I joined PH. It’s not entirely that my disappointment with BFA is high, but more that I’m finally experiencing the true EVE Online. WoW will be the game I play infrequently moving forward, if I play at all. While EVE is the game I’m now spending virtually all of my gaming time playing. Anything can happen, but as I sit here today, I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Aquaman Nudges the Redemption Meter

** NO SPOILERS **

I’ll be honest about this. I nearly didn’t see Aquaman because when I walked out of Justice League I all but told myself I was done with DC movies. Although I loved Wonder Women, Man of Steel, Batman vs Superman, and the Nolan Batman trilogy, DC movies for the most part have been a crap show. I’ve given DC pass, after pass because I love their characters as much as I love Marvel’s. But Justice League was such a stinker that I told myself they just didn’t get “it”; that DC Entertainment was all but irredeemable.

I realize I just said I loved several of their most recent movies, but Marvel laid out a road map for DC. And did everything but tie in up neatly in gift wrapping for them. What did DC Entertainment do instead? Skipped the foundational movies and went straight for the “Avengers” arc. Did I mention just what a steaming pile Justice League was?

About that irredeemability… Well I was wrong. While Aquaman’s story has holes, some campy to corny dialogue, and the wrong leading actor, it went a long way to redeeming hope in me that DC can still rescue their sinking ship. If you were to judge the film by its visual effects alone, you’d probably give it a solid 10. in short, they were stunning. Hell, *I* want to live in Atlantis now. But overall I give the film a 7.5/10 with marks down for Momoa’s acting, those pesky plot holes I mentioned, and a few rather obvious hanging questions that will leave many viewers scratching their heads as they walk out.

Also curious was the divided sympathies the movie engenders. You’re not usually supposed to feel sympathetic for the antagonist in a story, but damned if you don’t end up having some feels for the guy by the end. He may be a bit slimy around the edges, but all-in-all, his motivations are arguable. Which is interesting because naturally you’re supposed to be sympathetic to the protagonist — in this case, Arthur Curry (AKA Aquaman). It’s weird where you have a movie of this type where both sides are somewhat sympathetic, though perhaps the rationale for it is paid out in the finale scene. Could there be foreshadowing there, perhaps? There was certainly foreshadowing in the mid-credit scene regarding the other antagonist in the movie (cough Black Manta cough). Stick around for that!

If I were pressed on the matter, I’d choose the fight choreography as a second truly high point in the movie. Sans the first fight scene in the opening minutes, which portrayed Aquaman as a lumbering brawler. And not a very good one, at that. From then on, however, the fight choreography is both visually appealing and action packed. I most especially liked the scenes between Orm and Arthur, though perhaps the most important fights were with Black Manta. Again, the mid credit scene foreshadows much that could come to pass. And if the fight scenes between Manta and Aquaman here are the bar by which to judge, I can’t wait to see what may come next.

If you’re going into Aquaman expecting more than an entertaining action movie, with stunning visuals I’m afraid you may come away disappointed. But see this movie. Go and see it. If you love superhero films, don’t wait for the DVD. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it. While Momoa’s acting is a bit flat — he lacks emotion and has but one shtick — Amber Heard carries him through many of the scenes that are must wins. I would have preferred a leading actor more capable of a dynamic range of emotion, but I suppose there’s the eye candy perspective to consider.

New EVE Home

I have a new EVE home

I’ve relayed the difficulties I’ve had in the previous instances of playing EVE Online. I was never able to find a solid fit anywhere in my previous stints in EVE. It can be difficult to find an active corp, that remains active for a long period. But I’d had a lot of fun in Nullsec when I was last there in 2010, and coming back to EVE this time, it was one of my top goals to head back out. I had planned to start my search for a corporation after the holidays, with Spring as my deadline for finding one to call home. But I’d actually been looking around for at least a couple of weeks already. And after a pretty significant amount of hours looking at various options, it came down to BRAVE and PANDEMIC HORDE.

Both Alliances/Corporations are “new player” friendly, and essentially take anyone without the muss or fuss of ESI to deal with initially. Over the Christmas weekend I compared and contrasted the two, and Wednesday I’d decided I like Pandemic Horde better. Finally, last night I joined up and moved out to my new home system in O-VWPB. Its in Germinate, which looks and feels much the same as Vale of the Silent that I called home with my Alliance (Northern Coalition) back in 2010. I like Gurista space, and since its right next door to the Forge (Jita!) it served as the final enticement. I’d been operating out of the Forge for years, and I’m happy that my base of ops — in Nullsec and Hisec are still fairly centralized on the map. It’ll make it much less messy to jump things in and out when I need to down the road. 1 jump, both ways. Or 2 jumps out from Jita.

Those that follow me on Twitter probably saw my comments over the weekend about relocating all my stuff back to Caldari space from Gallente space. More than a month ago I was doing the reverse, spending some days hauling a fair bit of ships and equipment 30 jumps from my old system to my new. And over the course of 3-4 days this last weekend I made that long trek back. The silver lining to the effort is that I’ve never had a cleaner, or better organized set of personal property in Eve since I started playing 10 years ago. Even when I made the move to Gallente space in November, I still had a bunch of stuff strewn across several diverse systems. But no longer. Going into Null I wanted to ensure I cleaned up and turned the lights off. Now my stuff out in Hisec is contained in 3 stations. Jita being one of them.

With jump clones installed in the systems I wanted to ensure I could clone back to as needed, I made the final preparation to remotely set my home station to O-VWPB, then left station to self destruct my pod. 2 minutes later I was out in Null to start another chapter in my character’s life. Have to say, this first 24 hours has been almost overwhelming. The pure amount of information Horde provides you takes some getting through. They’ve thought of virtually everything and have a a bulletin, article, or forum post ready to answer whatever question you may have. And additionally, have a cadre of helpful corp mates standing by to provide free tier 1 ships, skill books, skill plans, as well as answer any other questions you might have. I’m told most large alliances have similar programs, but this is a different experience than I had back in 2010 with NC. I entered Null completely unprepared, and unknowing. But my eyes were opened very quickly, then.

This time around I’m more prepared, and Horde NBI members will make sure they ease me into whatever else for I’m not.

Quick Update

Staying active during the holidays

I haven’t posted in a while, so it must seem like nothing really is going on with me recently. But nothing could be further from the truth. It’s the holidays and I’ve been extremely busy all month, and most especially these last two weeks. I haven’t gamed as much as I normally do, but what gaming I have been doing has almost entirely been centered around EVE Online (more on this in my next blog post). I’ve only logged into WoW on Christmas morning for the gifts, and a couple other times in the last week or so for random stuff. Sad to say, my motivation level for WoW is about a 1 or 2 on a 10 point scale, right now. I was hoping patch 8.1 was going to improve that for me, but it unfortunately didn’t. Enough about that, though. This post isn’t to bash WoW, and frankly there’s enough of that going around without me adding to it.

As I said, I’ve been busy. In addition to the normal holiday stuff, I’ve done a lot of walking. Averaging about 6-7 miles per day (9-11 km), I hope to increase that to at least 10 miles (16 km) per day by Spring. But for now the 6-7 miles I am walking amounts to about an hour walk, with the remainder coming from normal daily activity. The daily temperature where I live has remained around mid/high 40’s into the low 50’s most days, which is fine for walking. If it gets colder than that I find I have trouble with overheating because I bundle up too much to remain warm at the start. Its a layers issue that I’ll eventually figure out. But for now I’m going to ride the “pleasant” weather while it lasts. I know as we move into January it has a tendency to get a lot colder, so there may be a period where I have to go back to using my treadmill.

That’s not such a bad situation, you may be saying to yourself right now. But I’ve also recently started playing Pokemon Go. And I normally hit several gyms and stops along my walking routes. None of which are accessible to me from my treadmill. So no, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if the weather turns much colder. But I’m not ashamed of wishing it to remain tepid so I can stay active and walk out doors. I never thought I’d find myself playing Pokemon, but I rather enjoy it. Its something to do while I walk. Gives me a little more motivation to keep going than I otherwise already had.

But playing Pokemon Go while walking isn’t the only thing that keeps my occupied while ticking off the miles. I also normally listen to podcasts, or if I’m caught up on those, my favorite play lists on Spotify. I have a core set of podcasts I love to listen to, but I’ve discovered a few others recently that have me rapt. Plug in the earphones, turn on the podcast or music, and away down the road I go. Its been an extremely enjoyable way of unwinding from the business.

Speaking of business, tonight is the first night since early in the month that my wife and I are going out on a date night. We’re heading out to see Aquaman this evening. I’d been on the fence about seeing it but a few friends have all told me it was good. One going on to tell me that it was almost as good as Wonder Woman. Frankly that was the comment that tipped me over. DC hasn’t had the best reputation for developing movies, and after the debacle that was Justice League I was just shy of deciding never to see another DC movie in the theater. So, tonight will be a bit of a second chance for DC. I doubt they’ll get a third from me.

Hope you all have had a wonderful holiday. Whether you believe, or not; whether you’re Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim, or whatever; I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!