30 Months in Eve Online | Journey of a Thousand Systems, Stumbles, and Successes

Ketriaava 2018-08-31

Art by Empanada

Hello again everyone!

This article is part of a series on my time in Eve Online, having made much of the journey through the game solo or otherwise with limited assistance. I am functionally independent, though in recent times this has changed slightly. However, while I write for INN, I am not with the Imperium.

I previously made posts every 3 months or so that were Imgur galleries and linked to on Reddit, though many things have happened since the last article due to a stint in Sov. Living there generally necessitates increased opsec and thus reduced detail. As the time there is sensitive, faded in memory, or otherwise shrouded in operational security, much of my time in Sov will receive very little mention. I spent about 8 months of the last year in that state,

Before I start, I want to leave a disclaimer. I’ve said this in all my previous posts, and I understand that not everyone is interested in reading this part, but it needs to be said. It really isn’t all that hard to figure out who I am from all of this, but I ask that you do not search. These posts are generally reliant on an honor system, which is a risky proposition in Eve Online. So far it has gone well, but it really wouldn’t take much to ruin it. If that happened, this series would end, and that’s a net negative for everyone. Please be nice!

Sov: Living, Loathing, Leaving

After spending considerable time building up a small group of people and forming our own alliance, we made a trek to sov and acquired several systems from a friendly entity who was willing to give up the otherwise unused space. For a time, this was an enjoyable experience. We were largely independent, working on growing our identity and our group. There were even a few valuable moons discovered when the Lifeblood expansion hit. We set about making some isk and sparking small-gang fights, with a decent amount of content coming to our front door.

During much of this time I had been the alliance executor. The differences in personality and goals as an alliance led to friction and concern, and eventually the stress of the position combined with my feeling of being an ineffectual leader resulted in me handing over control to another of the higher-ups. This change in of itself was not bad, but the friends who had helped me previously in the NPC null I had come to after the past eviction stabbed my group and I in the back, turning on our sov and evicting us.

This was my first time being betrayed by allies, much less friends. I had thought highly of them despite their shortcomings and despite friction we had had in the past. They had even offered, after we had parted ways, to defend our structures should we come under attack. To make such a turn with no previous warning was jarring. I have had a long time to think back on this, and I have yet to find a good reason for their actions besides outright boredom. It is unfortunate, but I am glad that I did not lose more to the situation, and I am very glad that I was able to learn their true nature. In the long run, the experience is a good one in that I am no longer affiliated with such people.

But at the time, this was a difficult experience. I took a break from the game, and came back to find us in another entity, which quickly revealed itself to be a very poor position in a place doomed to failure. We struggled against an inevitable for quite some time before it all ultimately collapsed. Several of the corporations and members went our separate ways. This would have later consequences as many significant personal incidents do, but ultimately I had had one foot out the door for a while during the twilight hours before the failure cascade.

I found myself choked by expectations, frustrated by hostile entities, infuriated with incompetent line members and absent leaders, and ultimately made the decision to abandon my presence in the world of Sov. I sold many possessions, raised about 30 billion isk, and began the process of returning to NPC Null, my true home.

Back in NPC Null

Finally free of the expectations and constraints of Sov alliances, I quickly got back to work. I set up in a quiet system after a minor squabble with locals in a nearby constellation. Rather than escalate it to a prolonged war so soon after leaving one, I felt it worth simply relocating to another system in the region. So with haste, I set up an Astrahus and a Raitaru to live out of.

As the establishment process began, I set about seeking means of income. Mining and ratting in what anomalies were available was a decent start, but I began to supplement it heavily by hunting npc miner Strong Boxes across the region, which were of reasonable value should they drop from the hauler target. Though finding one usually took some time, and killing one took even longer, in being so rarely pursued, it found itself an appealing pastime. With some income and ice mining, I compiled enough materials to start a preliminary construction run which yielded about 15000 fuel blocks. Presumably this would keep me running for long enough to build more.

With numerous abandoned citadels in the region, I set to attacking several, even killing one with a few Oracles by myself. Unfortunately, one of the citadels I struck belonged to an entity that styled itself unwilling to be truly dead. A Raitaru kill timer was missed by only 15 minutes as I overslept. After reinforcing it a second time, I struck down several POCOs – though mostly InterBus, and replaced them with my own, setting up the beginnings of a basic fuel production line.

While this was going on, my Jump Freighter midpoint came under attack by a major entity. Though there was nothing I could do to stop them, I took the time to reroute, establishing a new jump chain exclusively through NPC stations, and relocated my cyno alts. It would add some considerable distance to the trip, and put my cynos in higher traffic systems, but there was no alternative. The midpoint would be destroyed later, some days after the events of the next section.

Batphone Victim

The day came for the second try at the Raitaru’s kill timer, and a pair of friends were willing to jumpclone up and fly a ‘doctrine’ I had prepared to strike the Citadel. I was multiboxing five ships for this fight – three doctrine ships, a cyno, and a dread alt. The opponents were here this time, though. After a short skirmish, the hostiles lit a cyno and brought in in a carrier. I brought my dread in, ready to escalate, but was met with the dull thud of a second cyno and a fleet of 40 hurricanes. My dread lived just long enough for all but one of the other ships to escape, but the dread itself succumbed quickly to the onslaught of artillery rounds.

Defeated, I pulled back and sat under the radar for several days. But it was during this time that I had found out that one of my supposed friends had taken poorly to my exodus from the alliance in Sov. They had used the fight to spy on me and relay intel to the dropping party – and had even attempted to get additional parties involved. I made my accusation, and after they dodged a response and I reiterated my demand for the truth, they blocked me. At least now I knew. Such a small victory – the destruction of a single dread – at such a high price, made me wonder whether their decision was worth it. Comprehending such pettiness on such a personal level is hard for me, and despite being betrayed once already, if I were to seek revenge, I would attempt something much more substantial. But truthfully, I just don’t think I’m that kind of person on either level.

Despite going back and forth for several more annoyance reinforcements against the other party, I was never able to follow up on another attack. The stifling from their batphone potential combined with several poor subcap engagements afterwards led to mounting frustration, and despite destroying two of their Rattlesnakes at 2 billion isk apiece that were attempting to reinforce my Astrahus, I found myself no longer enjoying the residency. I made preparations to relocate yet again. Several of my friends had recommended another location which I began to give consideration to. After surveying a few systems, I set up a new cyno chain for my Jump Freighter and began the move.

New Home, Attempt Number… Most Recent of Many.

I snuck a Viator into system, and anchored an Astrahus under cover of time zone. Despite several entities logging in over the next day, the anchoring was either unnoticed or deemed insignificant, and came online safely with no problems. There were locals to engage here as well, but after doing extensive research I believed them to be a group I could harass into exiting the region without a prolonged conflict.

I immediately imported several important assets into the region. Two dreadnoughts were purchased and staged in a nearby NPC station. One was a Revelation that had come pre-fitted, the other was an empty Naglfar hull. A jump freighter full of ship hulls and fittings was delivered, including several Stealth Bombers with cynos I would use to cloaky camp the system and prevent mining and ratting by the locals. Having recently moved to a new time zone, I was able to stay up late enough to relog after downtime and maintain the camp. Though I do not know entirely how effective it was, there was but a single instance of a salty local who was frustrated by it. I doubt he was aware just how committed I was about to be.

While researching the entities I would be opposing, I came across some enticing information. One of the members had a Rorqual they had used to kill a POCO some time ago, and as there was a Tatara in system, it was most likely stored on site. A day later it undocked and started mining a moon that had fractured. Unfortunately, I was not ready to drop on it, and attempts to contact allies failed due to the time of day the mining occured. I gave up on the immediate and worked to concoct a plan for something more intricate.

The Campaign, Part 1: The Hunt, Strikes Begin

Knowing there was a potential Rorqual kill to be had and with two dread alts available, I figured I could have enough dps to down it with only a small amount of extra assistance should I be able to snag it on a moon rock. This presented the challenge of being able to survive the citadel’s anti-capital guns for at least two siege cycles – one for the main damaging battle, and one for when it entered PANIC. If I had it tackled, presumably I could hold it long enough for an ally from somewhere to come in and bring in the remaining damage needed to take it down. Such a victory would go a long way towards winning a campaign.

I had long ago once pyfa warriored a curious fit for a pair of HAW dreads – one for a Naglfar and a Phoenix. They were cap-stable without using 3200 cap boosters, and could run certain Capital-sized shield boosters. The fits were hilarious and likely very ineffective. But this presented an opportunity to use them in battle. I put the isk in, changed the guns to anti-capital, and got the Naglfar ready to go. The Revelation was not cap stable and could not be refitted to a version of this idea, but it would likely be able to maintain enough capacitor for at least fifteen minutes with its dual 3200 injectors. However, the moon asteroids despawned and the Rorqual stayed docked. I found myself seeking a new means to begin the conflict.

I reached out to contacts – some I had made through INN, some I had met all the way back in my first trip to NPC null, and some I had met through my life in Sov. I received promising responses of potential assistance with destroying citadels in the system. With new confidence, I began strikes against several weak-fitted Raitarus at off-hours. The next day, I intentionally failed to follow up for the armor timer to gauge responses. The response seemed small, and more importantly there seemed to be no presence of a batphone to a major party. Optimistic, I brought in two dreads and two oracles and reinforced the largest structure in the system – a largely Tech II fit, but unrigged, Tatara. Thinking that if I could I could crush their morale, I could win the campaign quickly and decisively. Going after their most powerful installation seemed the most effective way to do so.

The Campaign, Part 2: Endurance Brawl

I brought in both dreads under cover of time zone, and along with two Oracles, I reinforced the Tatara in short order. But that was the easy part. I could do that whenever local was empty, the real challenge would be the timers where they could show.

As the timer ticked down over the next few days, I reached out to several entities, and received fairly placeholder responses. There was no promise to show, which manifested quickly as a major timer nearby would take precedence for all the entities that were not going to be outright asleep during the repair cycle. The day of the armor timer came, and at the last moment, there was no response from anyone who could attend. My pleas for help were rebuffed, though not without understandable cause. I do not fault the parties involved for what happened.

Almost certain that I could not handle it alone, I was getting quite nervous. Should the timer complete and the structure repair, they could leave a character on the guns permanently and make it near impossible to reinforce again – which in turn would drastically reduce the chances of assistance simply out of interest. I lit a cyno on my Astrahus and brought in my Naglfar to let it cap up and prepare to engage.

This was a critical moment. I ran the numbers on the potential damage of the Tatara, and ran the numbers on my Naglfar’s effective dps tank. I could at least tank it for quite a while – hopefully long enough for backup to come and keep it paused and allow me to extract. I was even prepared to sacrifice the dread to put enough time on the countdown to let people come in after I died. Thus began one of the craziest things I’ve ever done.

I chugged a blue pill, didn’t roll the capacitor penalty, and made the call. I warped my Naglfar in at 10km and sieged. The fight was on.

At first things went well enough. I opened with a strategy I had learned from past bashing with Oracles – splitting my guns was key. Staggering shots would prevent it from unpausing for a few seconds while the shots were on cycle. I also waited until I’d fired about 20 rounds to start the third gun, as it would allow me to keep the timer held while the other two were reloading. The Tatara was now paused.

It wasn’t long before I was locked up and its full damage potential put against me. Standup fighters, anti-cap missiles, and even its anti-subcap missiles and guided bombs smashed against my shields. I simply left my shield booster on and running. I intended to open the fight with the strongest statement I had: You will not kill me alone.

It didn’t take long for the opposing party to bring in support. Two Thanatos carriers logged in on top of the Tatara, about 40km away. This would put them too far out of range of a single gun to put realistic damage on them, but it also meant their capital neuts would not affect me heavily. This proved very important as the battle dragged on. The carriers released full fighter squadrons and laid into the attack, putting my shields under greater stress. But my reps held strong. I swapped one of my staggered guns to fire on one of the Thanatoses to see if I could pressure it to warp off. It refused to do so, and I realized my damage was not enough to be relevant against its armor buffer. I set my damage back onto the Tatara after the Thanatos hit 85% armor after about a minute of sustained fire.

With capital neuts incoming but the carriers staying out of range, I was holding strong. I began to notice that my capacitor would recharge exceptionally quickly when the reps were not running. As the only time it was mandatory to run them immediately was when struck by the anti-cap volley, which itself had a lengthy cycle time, I could pulse the booster to raise my capacitor to levels that protected me against neuts. This would also allow me to stay over jump cap, which would let me extract in a pinch if I could leave siege.

I also began to use my subcap alts to pressure the fighters. I had two oracles sitting at a tactical which I would warp at varying ranges from my dread, run a tactic for a few seconds, and then warp back up to the tactical. At times I would warp to 0 and use their burst jammers to stall the fighters and force new inputs from the fighter controllers. If he was multiboxing, this would put considerable strain on his character management. Other times I would warp in close to use Multifrequency crystals, and still others I would warp at range with Radio. The variance gave me some protection against being immediately pointed by Sirens should he recall and load them into the tubes. The carriers and the Tatara itself would frequently recall fighters as they were being shot – though I believe this was more due to needing to reload volleys to maximize his alpha in an attempt to break my reps. I found myself doing very little damage to the fighters as my tracking was subpar even with scripted mods to boost it, despite being able to kill a few fighters inside the squadrons over the course of the fighting.

As the fight dragged on and the Tatara’s armor dipped further and further downwards, the carriers suddenly jumped out. I immediately expected a reship to dreads. I went siege red and let my capacitor go as high as I could to begin resisting at least two. A scorpion undocked shortly after and lit a cyno. Knowing at 0 velocity I had a chance of tracking it even with capital guns, I laid full force into it and let the Tatara repair for a few seconds. Ten seconds later, the Scorpion was reduced to a floating wreck and its cyno no longer active, but not before a Moros had jumped in. Despite being in a new high-pressure situation, I had one major advantage. The Moros had landed and entered siege nearly 35km away. Its application would be very low, and with the cyno down, additional dreads could not immediately enter the fight. As my siege exited, I made the call to go back in immediately and continue the fight, as well as to leave my second dread on standby at the staging point. The Tatara was at 15% armor. I could do this.

The combined damage of the Moros and Tatara was significantly higher than what I had faced before. I found myself cycling the shield booster much more often, despite the Tatara leaving its fighters docked. With no fighters to attack, the Oracles sat helplessly at range. Bringing them in to supplement damage would ensure their destruction by the Tatara’s Multirole missiles. It was down to the Naglfar now.

Time and health ticked by ever so slowly. With the fight approaching an hour’s length, the blue pill was reaching its expiry. I was facing the difficult choice of whether or not to consume another. If I didn’t, I would be facing dangerous levels of damage I might not be able to tank. But if I rolled the capacitor penalty, that was it. There was no way I could sustain the shields if that happened and my death would be guaranteed. With the Tatara reaching critical armor levels, I opted for the ‘safer’ route and chose not to consume. As the percentage ticked lower and lower, reaching a harrowing 2%, the Moros exited siege and tethered. The Tatara ceased aggression, moving from redbox to yellowbox. They had given up. A minute later and against the odds, the Tatara entered its reinforcement timer! With 3:30 on my siege, I exploded in hype to anyone I could speak to. I had done it. I had won!

The Tatara and Moros sat idle as I ran out my siege, capped up, thanked my opponents for the phenomenal battle, and jumped out as I exited siege. The little Naglfar that could was safely docked, and after tanking at least 6 million damage (post-resistance) over more than an hour, I had quite the story to share.

It was not even an hour later that even more good fortune came in. I had previously scouted a pair of unanchoring Athanors in system as I had moved in, but as I was unaware of the exit time, I thought nothing of it. As I kept watch over the Tatara in my cloaky bomber, I saw a signature change in-system. My curiosity piqued – it was a blue signature, a citadel. I hovered over it to find the citadel without a name – the way it appears when it is unanchored. My heart skipped a beat, I had just seen it unanchor in front of me. I rage-shipped an alt into a Viator and went to undock. At this point I remembered a powerful trick – the signature in space itself was not able to be warped to, but you could bookmark it and warp to that. With another Viator on dscan, I gunned the warp drive and shot towards the bookmark, undocking a second character in a Confessor to provide cover. To my amazement, I landed first. I immediately scooped the Athanor and made haste back to my Astrahus, where I promptly lost my mind and gleefully shouted through text to my friends. A couple of screenshot proofs later and several were right there with me in excitement. I warped back and picked up the remaining mods as I saw the opposing Viator fleeing the scene in shame, unable to scoop the citadel in time or now its remaining mods with my Confessor present.

The Campaign, Part 3: The Implacable Naglfar

Realizing I had a potent psychological weapon, I began to use it in new circumstances. A Raitaru with poor weapons outfitting was my next target later the next day. I brought in the Naglfar and laid into its shields with two Oracles on support. Feeling the full effects of the psychological warfare, the Raitaru never once even locked my Naglfar. The Raitaru was not fit with a missile launcher, instead merely its bomb launcher was used against my Oracles. Quick reaction timing on a redbox allowed me to use their Micro Jump Drives, newly added to their kit, to get to safe distance long enough to stall the Raitaru’s focused warp disruptor. Once free, I would warp off and return to re-engage. As I had calculated my effective dps against the Raitaru with my Naglfar, I believed that I could save a siege cycle by using the Oracles if I could keep them shooting for enough time during the fight. Unfortunately this was not the case. Though I took no losses, the Raitaru entered reinforcement with 2 minutes left on the siege. The silence of waiting out the siege before extracting was nerve-wracking, but I warped off to the safety of my Astrahus’ tether without incident.

I like to believe that my opponents found the Naglfar simply impossible to kill, that there was no weapon in all their arsenal that could drive through its shields even once.

With another citadel battle won, I logged in the next day to find the system empty. No trace of the locals for hours on end. I was unsure of the situation, but I knew there was a Raitaru fitted with an XL Neutralizer I wanted to reinforce. With no locals, I could do so with the Naglfar as I was nervous it would be able to cap me out during an extended battle. I warped my Naglfar in, and found an unexpected situation – aside from the one reinforced, the other two citadels were now unanchoring. I moved a scout around and checked the rest of the system – every citadel except one was unanchoring or reinforced.

I immediately reinforced the remaining structures, unanchored or not, with the hopes that resetting the unanchoring timer would have it exit at a point where I could steal it myself, but the exit timers were very poor so I chose not to pursue it. Despite this, I intended to drive the message home – if some of them were giving up, I intended to push the rest into doing so as well. No citadel would be allowed to exist in a state other than unanchoring or reinforced.

As the day came for the Tatara kill timer, I weighed my options. Backup couldn’t make it, and it seemed the locals had a pair of seemingly unaffiliated members cloaked in system. Later research would show they were attempting to drop a Hel on various targets. Ultimately, without backup and without knowing my opposition, I made the call not to go in. The Tatara repaired, and I went off to bed. All was not lost, though – I came back to find the Tatara not only in an unanchoring state, but completely stripped of weaponry and services sans its clone bay to keep it out of low power. I reinforced it shortly after, but sadly the other citadels entering their kill timers combined with the late timezone of said timers led to repeated postponing of the Tatara’s armor.

The Campaign, Part 4: Not With a Bang, But…

After the Tatara repaired itself for its first kill timer, the state of the campaign changed considerably. The locals, once defiant of cloaky camps and aggression, were nowhere to be found. The system sat eerily quiet for a few days before I returned to work. Several structures were now entering armor and kill timers, and what was once considered to be a nervous strike against hostiles was now done without a care in the world. Every POCO was reinforced.

Down they went, along with Raitaru after Raitaru, and an Athanor soon followed.

With every other structure destroyed, all that was left was to strike the Tatara once more. Shield timers were created and abandoned to scheduling concerns, and finally an armor timer was completed with a kill soon to follow. I was due to head out for vacation for three weeks just two days after this kill timer – so if I was to kill it, this was the time to do so.

Alas, backup once again could not come. With local starting to climb up to nearly 20 before the exit, I made the decision to stand down. But this time, an astounding twist came to pass. As the timer exited, numerous bombers decloaked… and started firing. The supposed defenders were destroying the structure themselves! I made no attempt to interfere, sitting idly by while they chipped away its health. An hour later, the Tatara was no more, and the wreck was destroyed – supposedly to prevent me from salvaging it. An act of such symbolic defiance, stealing my killing stroke – what would have been the proudest moment of my campaign, ended in a low whimper as the enemy padded their killboard and walked away.

But even a low moment had its true greatness, for with the Tatara destroyed, naught but I stood in the system now. While I had once cowered in fear of any locals even passing by in systems past, I had now reached a point where I could finally strike a campaign to take space for myself. It may not have been against particularly significant odds, but I took on a group larger than myself and came away victorious. This space is more earned than any I have ever resided in, and I’m exuberant with optimism. I have so many ideas of what to do with this newfound home – but first, I am to go on a lovely vacation with my family. So off I go, and with that, we reach the present!

This article and series has been a labor of love, inspired by my friends, my passion, the journey itself, and even the opponents I’ve faced along it. While clearly not all of it is positive, I am glad that it has overall been a joyous experience. Past reactions to these posts have generally been receptive, and this one has been a long time coming. I don’t like talking about life in Sov very much, as it’s not conducive to these posts, but if it happens again, I will be sure to mark the highlights in the next post.

Before I sign off, I want to give a special thanks to my friends and allies who have assisted me in my most recent quest. You have been a great help to me, and I am glad to have worked with you. I owe the survival of my home to you (an incident that shall remain private), and I intend to repay the favor. I hope to continue to do so on forward operating campaigns in the future – no spoilers for anyone else!

I also want to thank a few of my friends who, while they have not been here physically, have been constant supporters of my odd Eve lifestyle choices and especially of me personally while I struggled through some heavy real life stress. I was in a dark place for a while, but you kept me going and helped me through, and I am deeply grateful.

Thank you so much for reading!

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Comments

  • Daito Endashi

    Wow, this was an amazing story to read!
    Though I found it depressing in the beginning (I really don’t think I could handle friends betraying me very well) it really made me want to play again
    I’m looking forward to the next part!

    August 31, 2018 at 8:21 AM
  • Johnny Crowe

    The only person you can trust in New Eden is yourself. Anyway, good read friend.

    August 31, 2018 at 1:02 PM
  • Drusus Nero

    Great story! Keep doing what you love in New Eden.

    August 31, 2018 at 6:11 PM
  • General Thade

    Good story. It shows that not all fights have to end in an explosion.

    August 31, 2018 at 8:04 PM
  • Risin Tide

    I dont even trust my alt

    September 1, 2018 at 7:23 AM