As the PFR struggles to get it’s feet wet in post-Phoebe SOV, and at the same time struggles with the vast amount of problems that EVEs mechanics create for new groups, those in search of an easy target and some content have herded into the system to stymie PFR’s efforts.
In the AAR (After Action Report) below, founder of the PFR coelomate details the goings-on in PFR’s neck of the woods.
The stage is set:
Just after downtime Tuesday, Phoebe Freeport Republic claimed sovereignty in WPV-JN. Like a dog chasing a car and actually catching it, we found ourselves unexpectedly holding sov (albeit objectively horrible sov). We scrambled to sort out logistics and defensive measures. The rest of Tuesday and early Wednesday were spent in scuffles with the Etherium Reach Welcoming Committee, featuring Stoseph Stuarts and his gang of 23/7 active alts.
Our TCU fell to enemy forces at 20:43 Wednesday, and our outnumbered fleet sought refuge while the enemy circled our POS triumphantly.
Curiously, when our TCU was destroyed and our sovereignty dropped, the next TCU that began to online in the system belonged to us. The enemy had taken our sov, but hadn’t moved (or hadn’t moved fast enough) to take it for themselves – we were back in the fight.
It was clear that TCUs and SBUs wouldn’t be enough to hold our space, and so a quiet plan was launched: we needed to hold on while our 2nd TCU onlined (8 hour timer) and then anchor (1 hour timer) and online (1 hour timer) an infrastructure hub. Once online, the infrastructure hub would provide significant defense to our system: not only would it be one more difficult structure for an attacker to grind, but it would allow us to set reinforcement timers and coordinate defenses.
Aren’t infrastructure hubs 750,000 m3?
Yeah. There’s a reason we didn’t plunk one down Tuesday morning – ihubs are GIGANTIC. They can only be moved in a freighter – you know, the boring, jump-drive-less, slow, expensive, fragile kind. After onlining our 2nd TCU, a few trusted pilots began sketching out the details of an operation to bring the ihub (**codename: 800m3 of atrons, or just “The Atron”) through lowsec, then nullsec, and into WPV-JN. Meanwhile, we did our best to secure WPV-JN as our TCU onlined – keeping watchful eyes in important places, and maintaining diplomatic contact with several entities with a significant presence in the region.
A few hours before the TCU came online, our system was looking calm, and so we got to work. Out of corp alts moved the infrastructure hub to a nearby hisec system, and a gang was quietly formed to scout every system along our route. Newer or less skilled pilots (~like me~) took up perches along the route while vets formed anti-tackle, ECM and a webber to help deliver The Atron.
The move was tense, but mostly free of combat (I think we popped a redfrog alt or something, our bad, sorry bros, and somebody lost a (lowercase) atron perched on a gate). A few whiskeys and some eerily quiet battlecoms later, The Atron was resting quietly in WPV-JN, and our sovereignty claim was about to be complete as the TCU neared the end of its 8 hour online timer.
Meanwhile, the illustrious Stoseph Stuarts, an NPC placed by CCP to permanently camp WPV-JN, private convo’d me “Nice Charon.” In hindsight, this was probably a bad sign, but we were faced with a difficult decision: online the ihub as soon as possible after caliming sov, wait until just before downtime, or regroup the next day and sit out the 2 hours of onlining with better numbers.
Intel was mixed, nerves were frayed, and the whiskey was taking hold. In what may have been a strategic error, the decision was made: FUCK IT, WE’LL DO IT LIVE. Just after our sov clicked online, The Atron was warped to the destination planet and launched for the Dutch East Querious Company (…we’ve got some map reading problems, hush).
Lossboards are green (subtitle: Dominion sov is great~~~)
At this point, everything went to shit. The ihub launched, but wouldn’t anchor. And while we tried to sort out those issues, local spiked – hostiles landed on grid and claimed a shiny kill: https://zkillboard.com/kill/42237736/
…and the ihub still wouldn’t anchor. Coms turned to panic. Our humble ECM and anti-frig fleet was quickly overwhelmed by the Serenity Initiative moas, logi, and morale dominix (I dunno maybe it had a purpose I was busy reading wikipedias on sov mechanics).
At this point we were greeted with three different error messages each time we tried to anchor the ihub (paraphrased):
- Can’t anchor because ships are in the way (the hostile gang and drones meant we couldn’t plunk it down easily)
- Can’t anchor more than 100km away (away from your ship? Away from the ihub? Couldn’t tell – with hostiles swarming the clicking was frenzied and the anchoring interface left a lot to be desired, but suffice to say the clicking and dragging and scrolling presented huge issues)
- Can’t anchor because there are indications the system is being contested.
Wait, contested? WPV-JN has three gates. At that moment, PFR had one online defensive SBU and two more ready to be placed. Our understanding was that it took more than one online SBU to make the system contested, though more thorough research now has revealed a few sources mention ihubs can’t be anchored if any SBUs at all are anchored or online in the system.
And so commenced in earnest the second battle of WPV-JN, which once again was waged primarily with cloaky ships and panicked sov maneuvers rather than clashes between fleets. A fearless blockade runner offlined the SBU and scooped it, leaving the gates clear. In this time the hostile fleet appeared to be shooting the unanchored ihub, but reports on whether that was mechanically possible are mixed. Somehow shields were down to 85% by the first time we could check. Once the gates were cleared of SBUs, characters with roles began suiciding into the ihub and moa mosh pit trying to find a sweet spot where we could anchor the damn thing without hitting the “can’t drop on ships” or “must be within 100km” error message – all the while praying the attacking fleet wouldn’t realize their opportunity and deploy SBUs of their own.
At last, the ihub found its footing, and the 1 hour anchor timer began, and the hostiles continued to fire at the nascent structure. I commanded the remnants of our fleet to rendezvous at the pos, alt-tab out of EVE, and start reading everything we could find about ihub mechanics.
What could the enemy do to stop our onlining? When precisely would it go invulnerable? Did it have full shield/armor/hull HP before coming online? Ships were dispatched to lock the ihub and check its shields and time how long it would last against the enemy fire.
As the planning continued, pings went out to form a moa and scythe fleet of our own. In addition, a turbo-bro not even in our corp volunteered to fly from Jita in a slippery pete, sniping the attackers and buy some time with harassment techniques. Research into sov mechanics yielded a few troubling results, and we decided to step up from a small gang getting a job done to a drudge-siren-red-alert flash form fleet. It was bad timing, but we cobbled together a moa fleet of our own to keep a watchful eye and engage as necessary to ensure the ihub’s survival.
After a tense hour of standoff, scouting, and diplomacy, the ihub anchored. A final suicide pod-warp succeeded in starting the 1-hour online timer, and the hostiles broke off – ostensibly realizing they didn’t have the DPS needed to interfere any further.
Castles in the sky:
Exhausted and down to a handful of pilots, we watched the timer click over, and the ihub’s subtitle flip to invulnerable. We’re still fragile, we’re still new, and the crusade is far from over – but the night was won. Our first stake is secured… for now.
You might get the impression that “Coelomte and PFR are terrible” more than “Dominion sov is terrible” as you read this report. IMO both statements have truth to them. The sov system is very poorly documented, and the mechanics can be clunky and unresponsive at the worst times. We should have known the mechanics better, but we’re also overwhelmed and responding to fast changing circumstances – onlining an ihub the day after Phoebe launched is significantly faster than we had ever hoped for.
Anyway, we’re learning and exploring and gaining experience through trial and error. There have been and will be mistakes along the way, but the system isn’t doing us any favors either. It seems to be riddled with bugs and features that operate materially differently in what one would expect to be similar circumstances. But we’re here to learn, improve, and continue taking the fight to them – and it’s been a hell of a ride so far.
Want to know more? Check out our subreddit, http://www.reddit.com/r/PhoebeCrusadeWarRoom.
Ready to join the crusade? Our sub’s sidebar has info on joining up. Join our public channel, talk to a recruiter, apply to the corporation or alliance.
Want to help fund that freighter loss? Send isk to the corporation Dutch East Querious Company. We, uh, don’t exactly have an income to support our level of whelping or sov bills at the moment. No pressure, but, uh, we are kinda broke, and I promise any spare isk will go straight towards more misadventures and AARs from those misadventures.
With love and gratitude,