Fiend Dies to The Initiative in Querious

Quendan 2018-12-31

Art by Smultar.

The kill last week of an Alliance Tournament ship produced volumes of interest around the Eve Universe, and a bit of controversy as the pilot and his corpmates suggested game mechanics might have failed at a critical time.

At 15:14 Eve time on December 27, a Fiend piloted by Velsharoon was volleyed off the N-M1A3 gate in the system of 49-U6U. Velsharoon had been roaming in the dead end pocket of XLL-Z7 where The Initiative holds some systems with heavy ratting activity.

The Fiend is an Alliance Tournament XIII prize ship, one of only 50 can ever be in the game, and is a heavy interdiction cruiser based on the Phantasm’s hull. This is the fourth Fiend to ever be destroyed, and the first to meet its fate in null security space. While zKillboard estimates the total price of the hull to be around 150 billion ISK, this is probably off the mark.

A recent auction of a Fiend blueprint copy attracted offers of 360 billion ISK, with some claiming the worth to be 500 billion ISK. Killmails also fail to calculate the value of Abyssal items, which according to Velsharoon were about 50 billion for this particular fit. It’s likely that the value of this particular kill veers more toward half a trillion ISK.

Dropped Abyssal Modules

INN has contacted Tsuil, long-term member of The Initiative corporation STK Scientific for his view of events. This is his slightly edited response:

Simply put, the dude was [flying] around in the pocket, [I] assumed he would try to get out before anything was prepared. [So I] decided to just go ahead and plug the hole, told my sister to jump their Hel to 49, took the ancil gate [Editor’s note: The NU4-2G >> 49-U6U Ansiblex Jump Gate], she dropped fighters and warped to a [safe] and I stood guard on the gate. [A] Bifrost came first, tried to burn to him but he pulled off rather quickly. Assuming he’s just baiting me off the gate for the other dude to get out, [I] burned back to the gate only to find mid-way the Fiend uncloaking about 10k off of me (bad luck for him). [I] burned a [little] towards [him to] apply scram, and before he instapops my Sabre I told her to hit him with everything. – Annnnnd blap, dead.”

And blap, dead it was, indeed; zKillboard reports the ship took around 7,000 damage before it was destroyed.  If Velsharoon’s ship had not been damaged in a previous engagement, this raises the question “what happened?”, since the base hitpoints of the ship that he was flying exceeded the damage that volleyed him off the field.

The Fiend was piloted by Velsharoon of CODE.’s ‘New Order Outreach Division’, the newest iteration of a group of experienced small-gang PVP pilots. It belonged to Casper24, who has until recently flew under the flag of Alliance Tournament contender Hydra Reloaded. Velsharoon is probably best known to the EVE community by achieving 1337 kills in an Imp (among them a carrier), and subsequently losing it on another character and is considered one of the best solo and small gang pilots currently in the game. In one Reddit post, they claimed that they were hesitant to start flying AT ships because they would not know if they were able to stop, and it seems their prediction held true when they switched over to the Fiend after losing the Imp.

When asked about the ship and the events that led up to the kill, Velsharoon said he flew the ship almost daily for two months hoping to reach 1337 kills on it, too:

It’s an incredibly strong solo ship with a huge engagement profile, and it survives well against fighters due to huge resists and damage mitigation from its AB speed bonus. So I took it into the INIT pocket looking for a few more killmarks yesterday, caught myself a VNI in a populated system with like 30 dudes in the Keepstar. As I was killing said VNI I noticed a few supers undock, as well as a Devoter and Naglfar. So once I popped the VNI, I warped my forward scouting Bifrost alt to the gate to see what was up. [I] saw the Devoter on gate and jumped through to check the other side. The Devoter jumped with me and bubbled up. I warped the Fiend to the gate and jumped through, because a Devoter is very unspooky, decloaked and burned away then bounced safes to go to next gate, as I was bouncing safes the Devoter bubbled down and warped to next outgate in the pipe. I knew he still had aggro from the bubble so when he landed on the outgate I MJD’d him off with my Bifrost and continued moving.”

“Once I got to the last system I saw a Sabre and Hel on gate. The Hel had three Ametats and two Templars. Extremely survivable and not really any risk to a Fiend. So I jump the Bifrost in first, burn him off in an attempt to pull the Sabre and the fighters in the wrong direction. The Sabre starts following my Bifrost and I jump the Fiend in. I get a really unlucky spawn and decloak like 15km from the Sabre, but no big deal. I’m still extremely confident about the situation as Sabres can’t do much unless dual web-fit. So I heat the AB and align towards a moon and start burning. The Sabre gets close but not close enough and I start to pull range, I get out of bubbles and initiate warp fully aligned. Within the same tick the sabre drops his last bubble and it cancels my warp. My speed drops to around 2k/s with 100m signature radius, and I get instantly volleyed by 3 Ametats from 100% HP.”

Fiend getting volleyed

Velsharoon’s corpmate, posting on Reddit as FluorescentFlux, thoroughly dissected the kill in a post suggesting Eve’s game mechanics could not have allowed the Fiend to die so quickly under those circumstances.

“Out of all the available data I can conclude that either Velsh is extremely bad pilot who spaced out for 7+ seconds after sabre stopped his attempt to warp […], or that there’s some bug in play,” FluorescentFlux wrote.

Ametats are long-range fighters with sub-par tracking, best used against battlecruiser or larger targets. For Ametats to inflict the amount of damage seen here to a cruiser-sized hull, the Fiend would have needed to be stationary, or flying with its MWD activated. It seems unlikely that this was the case here. So whether it was an unlucky hit allowed for by some combination of circumstances, or an actual bug in the code, it does not detract from the experience of killing one of the most expensive ships in the game, but it is a rather abrupt end to a successful killstreak of 503 kills.

Scottish writer Iain M. Banks told us, “the bomb lives only as it is falling.” This holds true for Eve Online players as well. For so many players, the appeal of Eve is not in the game mechanics, but in the opportunity to push their gameplay to the limit. For some, this might be collecting supercarriers, titans, or even faction variants. However, some continue chasing “the shakes” – the adrenaline-fueled feeling of PVP in a high-stakes environment – by flying ships that cost as much as a titan collection. Casper24’s story, with his Imp, and now his Fiend, proves that there are still pilots attempting to ‘Bring Solo Back’, and we are looking forward to which ships these pilots might fly next.

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