Operation Enho: The Valhalla Ride in YZ9

2020-10-15

Header Art by AnuranonthecoucH

Editor’s note: Asher Elias originally posted this article on the goonfleet forums. We think it deserves a reprint and a wider audience. We have edited it for readability.

This fight was a month’s long plan come to fruition. Many many hours of preparation and practice. You probably already know how it ended, but I’ll tell you how it started.

We’d seen the way the PAPI coalition cynos in and we thought it was really unusual; they seemed to cyno all right on top of each other. Our [coalition’s] cynos are more spread out to avoid AOE titan DD. We started seriously looking at the idea of how they bring them in, but we wanted to see if they would do that [cluster] in a combat situation. So, we decided to fight over a 49-U fort as a test run. We would observe how they cyno’d and if they bubbled their fleet. To our utter delight at 49-U they used a small group of cynos and brought all their supers into a tight ball. We lost a lot of supers because of the PDS not working, but we considered it a price we were happy to pay for the information [we gained] and we continued to plan.

We did test runs with BFGs at ranges starting at 10km off the cyno and going out to 50km to find the perfect range; we worked on different ways to get the titans warped to the perfect range. Once we [had] settled on the method of delivering the titans, we started testing how many [we] needed to wipe a super fleet. We found that 10 titans could get some supers, but don’t get [those with] hardeners on or get neuted out. Fifteen titans got most all Nyxes/Hels. Twenty caught almost all Aeons. 25 killed everything, but heated phenom’d Aeons.

In the end we did about 50 different test runs with various ranges and configs and we had it down to a science. As we zeroed in on the ideal way to deliver titans to their exact spot (even if they were hictor or dictor bubbled) there was a sense of giddyness.

  • “If this works it will be the biggest thing to ever happen in Eve,” people said.
  • “If this works it will be AMAZING.”
  • “If this works we can clean up everything with a dread bomb.”

If this works. We all had it in the back of our mind.

On the test server it worked. On TQ it worked. But would it work in deep tidi? No one knew; it had never been attempted before.

We started using the code-name “Enho,” named after our favorite sumo wrestler, a very small guy who routinely beats much larger opponents. It seemed appropriate. The actual warping in of the titans we started calling the “Valhalla Ride.” We knew if it worked, or if it didn’t, the titans were heading to the same destination.

There was a lot more planning that went into it but I’ll spare you all the gory details. There were many hundreds of man hours that were put into this [effort] and I want to thank everyone who put their time and effort into this. We then had to start looking for the right time to put our planning into action. The Keepstar drop fights looked attractive but we didn’t know what system they would be in so it was hard to pre-seed titans. The anchor timers wouldn’t work because of tether. So we waited for PAPI to go on the offensive again. When they started reffing out forts we knew we had a good chance, so we choose YZ9 because it seemed like they thought we’d focus more on FWST.

Over the 24 hours before the timer we we tried to get as many titans secreted into YZ9 as possible. Whenever the system would empty out we would jump one titan in and warp him to his pre-assigned spot, then safe log him. A couple times one titan was spotted but I wasn’t too worried: titans move around all the time. We wanted 25, but a few just had no time [during which] they could come in because YZ9 is a pipe system. I wasn’t worried though; 20 was plenty.

The night before the battle we had most of our titans assigned and the perches were burnt for our interceptors. I checked the spreadsheet and went to sleep. Not very nervous; we had prepared as best we could. We were ready. If only the stars would align and the server would work.

The day came and the prep work continued. Much discussion was had about their escalation theory and what we would need to do to get the PAPI supers dropped. I was hoping to do so without aggro’ing our supers, but I was willing to do so if needed. The questions were: Would they drop the same way again. Would they aggressively bubble themselves? Would they use the same small cyno grouping or spread out more? Would they change strategies entirely and use their supers in a different way?

The battle started and they had, as expected, larger numbers than us. But we were playing with house money at this point; as with 49-U, the only thing that mattered was having them walk up the escalation chain. This time they used B-52 Phoenixes and long range BS to assault the fort – a different strategy, and I was gravely worried they would light the super cyno inside a bubble wall they erected around the Rokhs. I had Laz use our supertrains and primary all the hictors to try and lower the amount of bubbles that would potentially pull our titans. The battle evolved slowly and we played it patiently. We were on the losing end, but it was all part of the wager we had to pay to push our chips in.

We kept running them up the escalation chain to see what it would take to bring their supers in. We wanted to see if we could get them to jump in without aggro’ing our supers, but we weren’t able to do so. They had a carrier blob that had a bubble that just clipped one of our titan warp ins and would possibly catch five or so. We were very worried that they’d bring the supers in next to those carriers and our plan would be shot and we’d have spent a lot of money for nothing. On top of that, we didn’t want to look like morons to our line members, but we couldn’t say “Don’t worry guys; this is part of a big plan.” We couldn’t after 49-U and if we whiffed here we wouldn’t be able to do so.

Luckily, I think our guys have a ton of confidence in us, so we made the call to have the supers aggro. I said something nerdy like “the die is cast.” We watched the Test cyno warp far away from our area of concern to a naked area of space. Then all the other cynos went in the same place. INTENSE RELIEF. This is it; they are doing it in a tight grouping with no protective bubbles. Most people in command comms were not clued into the plan, so we were tip-toeing around it, but they were starting to pick up on it at that point. Something was up. We got on global: myself, Elo, Laz, and a few others debating about whether or not the placement was good and if [PAPI] were actually jumping to those cynos.

The wait was excruciating. We wanted to see the jump out animation of the PAPI supers in 8QT, but it took so long. Our titans were uncloaked and aligned, ready to warp, but also quite obvious. Eventually, we saw the first of the jump animations in 8QT, enough to assure us that this wasn’t a fake. Then I called “ENHO, ENHO, ENHO” over global comms and the plan was set in motion. Our interceptors warped in. Our titans waited and then warped to their assigned interceptor. Right after we called for that, PAPI got one sabre bubble up, but from our testing I was certain that even if it was up before the warp it would have no negative effect.

Then we waited, again. The load-in for their supers took forever. Our titans were creeping closer, in warp. Eventually they started hitting grid and no supers had loaded, but the warp ins were perfect. I thought again “if it works.” We had executed the warp in perfectly, a beautiful spread, a fleet killer. I keyed up to all my fleet members and said “If you believe in a deity we could use a few prayers now.” We waited a long time for supers to load: we knew they would hold invulnerability after they came in.

Now it was just waiting and hoping – “if it works.” Our warp in was exactly how we had practiced it and perfected it. We had to wait an obscene amount of real time. I don’t know how long it was. It felt like 15 minutes; it was probably five.

After the majority of their supers had jumped in and lost invulnerability we called for BFG. Seeing those spool up was incredible, watching the massive amount of work that we put into it come to fruition. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I was trying to be quiet and just wait, but I was dying to know if the damage would apply. Eventually we got a report of good hits on many targets. I was daring to believe it would work.

And then, the damage stopped. A review of our logs later would show that most of the titans only got 1 to 3 damage cycles on the boson, not the 20 that you normally get. We watched Nyxes lose shield and then drop one or two percent of their armor. But we didn’t know at the time that the server hadn’t worked. We thought maybe it would catch up. Sadly, it never happened. For thirty minutes or so I hoped the server would rubber band and catch up, but eventually I lost hope.

So “if it works” turned out to be “it didn’t work.” We only did 5-10% of the damage we expected. We kept the fight up, killing dreads with our supers while they focused on our now trapped titans and sent them on their Valhalla Ride. Then, we called it a night, dropped aggro, and re-tethered.

I want to say thanks to every single one of my guys who put a titan in for the ride to Valhalla. Thanks to everyone in Enho Squad who spent so much time planning it and helping test it. I love you guys more than you know and I appreciate your confidence in me more than you suspect. In the end, in this type of war, we have to think outside the box and come up with unusual strategies. Sitting in front of each other and trading volleys will never work for us. The amount of people who have personally reached out to me with kind messages saying they support me and they are happy to fly with me is incredibly touching. We tried something the server had never seen before and it didn’t cooperate with us. There is very little we can be upset about when we had a plan and we executed it to perfection.

Along with the thank you to everyone who helped with this, I want to say thank you to our enemies in PAPI. There are a few personalities I dislike (particularly the FC who keeps DMing me with borderline rape-y language) but overall you guys are alright and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to come up with these kind of schemes without you. Necessity is the mother of invention and you have forced us to invent quite a bit. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t, but without an opponent like this we wouldn’t have had a chance to try.

  • Some quick notes: The supercarrier size change was terrifying. When the Aeon size was changed to make it much larger, it would have made the supers bump much more and ruined this plan. We were all extremely nervous this would end our plan before we even had a chance to try it.
  • When the titans decel’d, my Discord just EXPLODED with DMs. So many FCs from every alliance and other people sent me a message saying something along the line of “HOLY SHIT.’ Lots of people grasped what was going on almost immediately. Even a bunch of PAPI FCs messaged me.
  • Cryo Huren made this amazing piece of art
  • For the people saying “Shouldn’t you have known it wouldn’t work because of x-47?” Bosons worked in x-47; Jay did about five that worked and the titans that warped onto the Imperium worked; one just missed totally and the other applied regular damage as far as we saw.

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Comments

  • Rammel Kas

    Subsequent comment caught: “CCP_Convict: I believe the cause for that has been identified and we’ll be tackling a fix. That felt super bad.”

    So the titans NOT working was a real thing, and hopefully something CCP will attend to soon.

    I believe Asher’s original text reads a little easier. 2c worth.

    October 16, 2020 at 10:42 AM
    • Tarh Rammel Kas

      I wonder if this is a quote that should not have been communicated to TAPI

      October 16, 2020 at 1:28 PM
      • Rammel Kas Tarh

        TAPI did not dare make such a play. Ever. They probably won’t even risk an ordinary fight on an Imprium keepstar in Delve after this.

        October 17, 2020 at 9:54 PM
    • zeenkz Rammel Kas

      If it was truly a bug that impacted the outcome…should not CCP return those Titans to their owners? it won’t change the outcome of the battle. But somewhere deep down I think those Imperium pilots didn’t want those titans anyway.

      October 17, 2020 at 9:27 PM
      • Rammel Kas zeenkz

        Those pilots wanted to pull off the impossible trap that nobody dared to do before. They were essentially just willing to put their chips on the table come what may to make it work. All in. In addition to that the way the Ship Replacement Program works is they get the hulls back from the alliance stocks. So it’s not about the ships. It’s about the game’s code not holding up and the lost opportunity to get something truly a world first done.

        October 17, 2020 at 9:53 PM
      • Arrendis zeenkz

        No, CCP should not return them, any more than CCP should kill the supercarriers. It didn’t work. Life goes on. We adapt and move forward.

        October 18, 2020 at 1:07 AM
        • Total Newbie Arrendis

          speak for yourself… I want them reimbursed 😛

          October 19, 2020 at 7:08 AM
  • Simon Chui

    Hey, if the problem was you only got 1/20th of the damage, then I guess the solution is you use 20 times more titans? 😀

    October 16, 2020 at 11:47 AM
  • Moomin Amatin

    This is goons at their finest. If that bug had not been there then this would have been a very different story. It would have been about the most amazing victory in gaming history. Oh well, perhaps next time.

    The big takeaway for me has to be how confident the PAPI cap team are in future engagements.

    October 17, 2020 at 1:33 PM
    • zeenkz Moomin Amatin

      I was watching the vid of the event not long after it was posted. When those titans went in I thought someone had screwed up. When someone said “Bosun Trap” I got chills. Even though no supers exploded the visual was stunning. I’ve been on both sides of wildly successful bomb runs. I was with INIT in Rage. This attempt rivaled all those. The audacity and planning that Eve pilots demonstrate impresses me regularly. And I would offer that the unanimous accolades for the attempt shows the true nature of Eve and it’s inhabitants.

      October 17, 2020 at 9:23 PM