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Sleight of Hand

I’m finally catching up with events, as the previous post described events two nights ago as I’m writing this. It won’t post for a week, but it feels good to be catching up.

Last post, we reinforced the Azbel and revealed that we knew about their highsec base with an Orca kill. We expected them to pull another trick out of their hat and couldn’t wait to see who they brought to this party. We formed up in zealots again, and set out for their lowsec system. We stopped one short and docked in highsec, waiting on the timer to go live and watching the surrounding space. We watched as a fleet of TEST Armageddons and logis formed up and ducked into the highsec pocket behind the lowsec system. We watched as a new T1 kitchen sink fleet assembled. We undocked, warped to the Raravath gate, idled for a minute, then turned and started burning back the way we came.

The TEST fleet stood down, and hopefully grumbled at the lack of action. We made five jumps back toward home, and then turned toward their highsec Azbel. We engaged it, and watched as the Arcane fleet burned towards us and turned back. It was an uneventful evening all things considered, but the long-term cost of their credibility is a clear win.

Gone Hunting

With a new wardec live, I was off the leash. What’s more, I’d recently recruited a trio of outstanding hunters who I found with criminal tags in Milal. As soon as we were able to shoot things we headed toward Arcane Confederacy’s home system to pick a fight. One of the new guys somehow managed to kill a shiny pod on station with his Bhaalgorn. I found an Astero who discovered the futility of core stabs as soon as we poked them. The next day we bagged another Megathron, this one after jumping through two systems with alliance members in local before warping to him. A retriever died a few hours later.

At this point we decided to form up and reinforce their Azbel. They lost 15 ships in their failure to defend the structure, while we lost nothing. I can’t say enough how awesome it is to fly with competent FCs and proper fleet doctrines.

In the course of tracking targets for the war, I discovered a handful in a highsec system a dozen jumps from what we thought of as their home system. Upon investigating, I discovered they had an Azbel there and active members in space. I passed on the information to the corp with the warning to not give any indication we knew they were there until a target worth shooting presented itself.

An hour after the fight on the lowsec Azbel, an Orca and Hulk undocked and set about mining. We formed up a hunting fleet and went after them. The Hulk escaped our interceptor. The Orca didn’t. Half an hour after that, we were back over at their home systems, killing a Covetor.

All we had left to do was find out who they would batphone for this next timer.

Trademark Enforcement

When we crashed that gate camp and then followed the culprits home, one thing we noticed was that their alliance name was unacceptably similar to ours. Arcane Confederacy was issued a cease and desist order on the grounds that their name infringes on the Arcana Noctis trademark, and we began visiting them regularly.

After the first two engagements, we learned quickly that they had eyes on the pipeline to their system, as gate camps would break up whenever we came near. We broke out covert Legions and sent a bait cyno into a nine-man gate camp they’d staged. A Thorax was the only ship in point range of the cyno. It was grabbed, the cyno was lit, and they scattered like roaches. The thorax died and they proceeded to accuse us of blobbing from the safety of their station. We’ve decided they use a curious form of math where our numbers are always doubled.

We found that they’d deployed an Athanor and returned to put it into its first reinforcement cycle. We returned the next day to take down its armor. Their kitchen sink formed up and managed to lose a Corax and Tornado before lighting a cyno and pulling in a Spectre Fleet batphone arranged by one of their members. A pile of bombers appeared as well as several black ops, and we departed, losing a Bhaalgorn and Guardian on the way out. It was unfortunate, but at the same time it was a terrible hot drop getting so few kills in what should have been a massacre for us. We declared war on Arcane Confederacy shortly afterward.


In the middle of this, I noticed in Milal one day a Pontifex and Loki running Blood Raider Gauntlets together. A cloaky scout revealed they appeared to be trying to set traps, the Pontifex slowly working the site while the Loki cloaked off grid. I broadcast the news in Discord and some guys staged up, and I jumped into the site and engaged. Turns out I made better bait than they did, as they engaged with the expected results:

Pontifex

Loki

Lifeblood Goes Live, Lowsec Gets Good

I wish I’d been keeping up with live blogging when this happened. Our corp has done some outstanding things since Lifeblood landed. We scanned hundreds of moons in the first day, our industrialist allies immediately started building Athanors to be deployed, and we scored the first ever lowsec Athanor kill, and the third in all of Eve. It took six more kills before people finally got the message to not anchor on our moons.

  1. https://zkillboard.com/kill/65612589/
  2. https://zkillboard.com/kill/65632506/
  3. https://zkillboard.com/kill/65679150/
  4. https://zkillboard.com/kill/65679326/
  5. https://zkillboard.com/kill/65683054/
  6. https://zkillboard.com/kill/65699308/

Honorable mention: This gank by one of our members was the second hauler killed moving an Athanor.

#1 in that list turned into a battle when the local Russian capital fleet paid our guys a visit, killing a Falcon and pushing us off the grid so they could finish off the refinery.

#2 was us returning the favor with some new friends in Shadow Cartel, resulting in this battle. The Russians brought in five battleships to shoot the Athanor. We engaged them with a battlecruiser fleet with light logi support. They escalated by dropping a force auxiliary, which brought in our dreadnaughts. As expected, they further escalated with a full fleet of capitals and started killing our subcaps, including my Hurricane. Once we had them fully invested and some points spread around, a new cyno was lit and Shadow Cartel appeared. Things got chaotic, and ultimately the Russians lost four capitals before the rest could disengage. We gave up 2 bill in subcapitals to kill over 14 bill.

That was the biggest fleet action I’ve ever been a part of, and I learned a lot from it. Mostly that my overview was in dire need of an overhaul (I’ve fixed it now.) I missed half the kills just because I could barely keep up with what was going on. Also I was multiboxing logi, and I needed to learn a lot about being a good logi pilot. But we kept stuff in the fight so I was at least useful.

The rest were uneventful structure grinds, but the fact that our little corp killed seven of these in a very short time is significant. Everything dropped died during its onlining timer, no matter when the timer was set.

Lifeblood is perhaps the most interesting patch I’ve seen in Eve. It’s driving conflict, forcing people to undock and be active in order to produce materials, and making lowsec worth staking a claim on. Even the structure grinds are somewhat interesting.

Camping the Wrong Gate

Two days after the 4.6 bill Rattlesnake kill I mentioned earlier, we were looking to form up for a roam. As we were prepping, I looked at Milal and realized someone had come and set up a gate camp. We scrambled to form up, pushed a bait ship through the gate, and proceeded to dismantled their gate camp. A Falcon and a Tengu didn’t survive the engagement, and we learned that a Stratios that had been on grid was fitted with core stabs, which we found amusing and annoying at the same time.

We decided to look into these guys the next day. I ran some locates and tracked them down to another lowsec pocket. Neutral eyes found that their corp had a larger presence there. They ran a gate camp that we planned on crashing, but it packed up before we could arrive. I found a small mining operation, and we sent a bait Thorax in to tackle a miner and draw out a fight.

And did it ever draw out a fight. The bait thorax died as expected, but not before we arrived and killed two Megathrons, a Claymore, and an Orthrus. Then a Phoenix and Archon warped in from an NPC station and pushed us off the field, leaving behind a Harbinger.

We were excited. We had new playmates, Lifeblood was due to launch the next day, and we had plans for that expansion.

Occupy Arera

While all the action in my last post was going on, I also moved my NEAPS operations from Itamo to Arera. Lately I’ve been busy with in-corp action and haven’t done much ganking, but here’s the toll up through the end of October:

  • 15 Hulks
  • 7 Mackinaws
  • 6 Covetors
  • 5 Retrievers
  • 2 Procurers
  • 1 Iteron Mark V
  • 1 Nereus
  • 1 Bestower

Some high value and/or interesting kills among those:

Ace Onzo  was kind enough to fit Ore Strip Miners on one of my first ganks in the area. I only noticed later that I also caught his Gila in one of our lowsec systems.

More Ore miners donated to the cause. And more, along with storyline upgrades.

This capsule. And this one. And another. And this one, too. Seriously, lots of expensive capsules.

A few kills I didn’t include in that list up there:

This Noctis, belonging to a group of bots that operate in and around Shuria.

I was scanning for other stuff and found a Bestower idling in a safe spot. A cargo scan told me all I needed to know: it had to die.

After a few weeks of my reign of terror, the local population thinned quite a bit and the remaining began trying to put up resistance to my activities. I largely ignored their efforts, ganking ships under the watchful eye of Drakes and Hurricanes intended to stop me. One pilot decided he’d reship from his exhumer to a Succubus. This gave me probably the most absurd gank of the month.

Giving up on armed resistance, the remaining miners sought the final refuge of besieged miners: the belts had nothing but Skiffs left in them. Thinking themselves safe, they took to smack talking my corp in local. So, I ganked a Skiff. Turns out they’re not as gank-proof as the miners think. After that, there were plenty of times that the ice fields of Bashakru went hours untouched, my alts were the only characters loitering in local, and the local mercenary hired to deal with me was nowhere to be seen.

One last pair of ganks: while moving a scout around tracking targets, I stumbled across a pair of ships idling at the docking radius of a station. I burned a fleet of criminal catalysts 15 jumps through highsec to get these kills:

Deacon

Retribution

Feeling Like a Rookie

If you want a peek into the mind of a much-younger me, making my first foray into wardecs and everything else The Skunkworks did, you can still read my old blog. The jump to Arcana Noctis and the way we operate in lowsec has given me a lot of the same “new and exciting” impressions. I’ve found myself finding fresh applications for the skills I’ve honed hunting in highsec, learning new tactics and doctrines that would never work there, and just generally having a lot more freedom to engage people with involuntary content.

Arcana Noctis isn’t just a PVP corporation. It’s our driving motivation, but we are also building something.

My first fleet engagement with ARCNO was this battle. We showed up for the armor timer on an astrahus belonging to the same corp that I helped them run locates for when we met, and were met by a Mercenary Coalition hotdrop that resulted in us losing a ship after putting down several belonging to the wartargets. We disengaged and left them to recover. I knew I was in the right corp when no one raged about the fight. We were isk-negative, the targets had hired mercs to do their fighting, and the general vibe was that this was an expected outcome sometimes. Risk averse need not apply.

I asked a lot of questions, did a lot of listening, and fired out what works for me. I lost several scout ships leaving them idling on gates in lowsec while paying attention to other accounts. We had some good fights, one unpleasant one where I lost another Hyperion, and we ganked a pair of stupidly expensive Hulks: Hulk 1 Hulk 2. Following the gank, Master Thai returned to the ice belt in a Machariel and spent hours rage bumping every miner out of the belt. I returned four hours after the gank to find him sitting in the belt, surrounded by six Orcas that had all been bumped 200+ km out of the belt and were sitting idle. Apparently there was some history concerning his fleet and the other locals, and he assumed we’d been hired to hit him.

It took me a few weeks to really get my feet under me. I settled in using neutral scouts to patrol both lowsec pockets we control, hunting anything that lingered long enough to be caught. The best catch I made was a Rattlesnake found running what I assume was an escalation.

Seeing that he was in a rat-heavy pocket, and flying a Rattlesnake on top of that, I grabbed my Hyperion and took my best shot at it. I was able to get on grid and tackle him, clearly demonstrating a remarkable lack of situational awareness on his part. A corpmate scrambled to bring a pair of Oracles to the fight while I held him down and chewed on his considerable tank. The oracles arrived, opened up on him and when that failed to burn out his tank overheated guns to the point of failure. The oracles warped out with no guns and in structure from rats, but the damage was done: he’d spent his capacitor trying to hold up to their DPS and my lone neut was able to finally break him down and his ship experienced sudden rapid disassembly. I looted the wreck and got out with a single cap booster left from tanking the rats.

Clicked the link yet? Go back and click it. We rode high on that kill for a week. Two days later we made some new…friends. More about that later.