Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Fanfest 2013

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Blogged by Jay Joringer

The following is taken from Heathrow Airport’s security FAQs:

How do you decide who has to pass through the security scanner?
Our security officers select passengers at random, or when there is a particular security concern (such as the activation of a metal detector).
If I'm asked to pass through the security scanner, can I choose to be screened by an alternative method?
No. If selected, you will not be offered an alternative method of screening. Refusal to be screened will result in you not being allowed to travel.
Do I need to remove my shoes at security?
Only if you’re asked. Some passengers will be asked to remove shoes in order for them to be x-rayed. We can’t comment on the selection criteria.

So, for those who haven’t travelled through Heathrow recently, the security arrangements they have in place are incredibly significant compared to how they used to be a number of years ago. There is the passport check before you pass your luggage/electrical items through the X-ray machines while you pass through the metal detectors. Behind the metal detectors, there are trained security personnel on the lookout for a certain ‘profile’ of person. Then there is a bag search station and body scanner. They say all this is random, but apparently wearing a thick jacket, baseball cap and backpack will particular aforementioned ‘selection criteria’ or ‘security concerns’.

This may all just be speculation on my behalf, but it’s the only way I can explain why Sen was stopped at each of these security points –bag check/body scanner/metal detector- as well as being asked to remove his boots. I wasn’t laughing. Well, much.

On the plane, we were sat next to what you might describe as a portly gentleman with the vague beginnings of a neckbeard. Yeah, it was pretty obvious why he was headed to Iceland, which we confirmed shortly afterwards, and just before Sen uttered the immortal words “you’re not a goon, are you?” His hesitance gave us an answer before he officially confessed it. And while we were at confessions of heinous crimes, he also admitted to being behind the invention and supply of Diamond White cider.

So, as far as making friends and influencing people went, we were off to a good start. A trend that continued when we got off the bus at the hotel. There was a fairly normal looking guy who had gotten off the bus the same time as us. Well, as normal-ish aside from being notably twitchy. He confirmed he was also attending fanfest. Sen responded with; "Cool. Who'd you fly with?"
"Icelandair." Was the witty reply.

So, we left him to it while we went off to explore Reykjavik. Spotting the Harpa centre wasn't difficult. Generally the buildings around the city were drab, pastel coloured and rather plain. Harpa was positively ostentatious by comparison. We bought a couple of tickets for the Eve Symphony and killed the time in between by finding a pub. We unadventurously chose "The English Pub", which unfortunately was a lot like English pubs in that it was showing a football game and it was on so loud that holding a conversation was difficult. It was the Dortmund/Madrid game and the fella next to us got quite excited when Dortmund scored. He was then quick to show us a picture of himself in a Dortmund kit. Apparently, he was a former Icelandic international and used to play for them.

The Eve Symphony turned out to be worthwhile attending, despite the extra cost. The arrangement was quite an achievement and undeniably innovative in places. From a nostalgic point of view, hearing some of the pieces was spine tingling. My only criticism was -and this is a very minor one- that the Eve soundtrack is, in the main, an ambient background soundtrack and I think the concert reflected that, lacking any moments with any real gravitas. That's not to detract from a superb overall performance that I would recommend people watch on youtube if you didn't catch it on the live stream.

Second day was cold. Really damn cold, so I was less than thrilled about standing in a big line outside the Harpa centre waiting for the passes to be handed out. Found out the guys in the queue next to us were a bunch of highsec carebears, two of which were from my town. I couldn't decide whether that was awesome or not. When the group was joined by the Twitchy guy, I confess I was leaning towards 'not'.

The WH round table was pretty awesome, but only in that the Dev's realised just how much interest there was in unknown space. From what they were saying, it sounded like they were so happy with it they weren't planning on doing much except for balancing escalation payments and making it more dangerous and random. Hopefully the numbers that turned up will provoke a little more attention for us WH pilots and give the environment a little love (and new content *fingers crossed*), but I can't see it happening too soon. Other than that, we learned that the original name for the Venture Frigate was in fact the Dasher. Glad they changed that one.

On my wanderings around Harpa, I spotted the sign up table for various events. Despite Sen expressing his dislike for what was available, I thought the poker tournament would be a laugh and signed up for that and the combined Eve/Dust 514 tournament since there was a sign up sheet for individual players who hadn't pre-organised a team, which was aptly named "People With No Friends."

I think the less said about the poker tournament, the better. I didn't check what was happening on the other table but I may have been the first one out. The next day was the start of the PvP tournament though and a Canadian we had a cup of tea with the night before promised to teabag me in Dust as he was on one of the teams. Given my performance in the poker, I was determined not to let that happen. Team No Friends was in the last match up of the first round against "Littlefinger kills Joffrey/Catlyn becomes a Zombie" which was basically Pandemic Legion trying to ruin Game of Thrones for anyone that hadn't read/watched that far yet.

Their teamleader hijacked the mic and called all his guys over. Once huddled, they were talking tactics - arranging squads composed of heavies and assault suits and another squad with logistics backing them up. And I know this because they gathered in an area that was convenient for me to eavesdrop on their preparations.

This information was all relayed to Team No Friends when it assembled. At the very least, there were 5 guys there who had never played Dust before. As luck would have it, the CEO of Dust Uni was on our side and was happy to give them a crash course. None of us seriously expected to get out of the first round, but with some good organisation and probably quite a lot of ignorance, we proceeded to punish PL for including plot spoilers in their team name. There were raucous cheers after the first and then the second wins, and rightly so. Team Littlefinger didn't even run us close and No Friends had exceeded all expectations, including our own.

Between out rounds, I watched team Chronos dispatch Designed to Hurt. DTH's eve pilots were apparently carried through their first round by their Dust mercs, but this time both sides of their team were getting bent over and ridden like ponies. I went over to the Eve screens to see what was going on and saw their guys undocking individually and trying to solo the enemy fleet. Not only that, one guy was fitting a Dragoon with lasers and missile launchers before he warped in by himself. Instead of trying to give himself a chance, he just sat still while he locked up targets and died. The pilot was none other than the Twitchy guy. I spread my hands in disbelief of such piloting ineptitude and the guy next to me even told me he'd been doing that all match. One of the Devs even noticed our discussion and stepped over and said "You know what's the best thing? The other team thing they're pretty good. They don't realise that these guys just don't know what they're doing."

Up next for us were Haggis Reloaded. I'm not certain of who they were, but there was a reasonable amount of goons watching them. One of the Dust rookies took it upon himself to do the team pep talk.
"More of the same, guys, more of the same."
"Er, what did we do the first time?"
"I don't know! But more of whatever it was!"
I'd watched Team Haggis in the previous round and they also won quite convincingly. They were certainly going to be a much more difficult prospect that Team Littlefinger. At least, so I thought. The No Friends steamroller charged right over the stunned Team Haggis in the first bout, at which point I had a realisation. One that I relayed to the rest of the team and their new found self-belief: "Guys, you know what this means? One more win and free beer."

Suddenly there was a glint in everyone's eye and a reason to win. Haggis put up much more of a fight this time, taking an initial lead on damage to our MCC. We had no intention of letting this fight go to a decider round though and reorganised our squads before counterattacking the null cannons and eventually securing an advantage. In the end, it was a lot closer than the previous rounds, but no friends were victorious. This time the cheer was replaced by a new battlecry "Free Beer!"

The next day, No Friends faced Team Chronos who we later discovered contain 3 members of the Council of Planetary Management, which were chosen not by a vote, but by CCP as outstanding players. It showed. The self belief that No Friends had accumulated began to melt away as Chronos showed their dominance, but we didn't go down without a fight. It was always going to be too much to ask of a pick up group to fend off such well organised competition, but we'd already secured second place and more importantly, free beer.

Sadly, during the prize collection, we were can flipped in real life. Beer can flipped. Some of the guys made off with the crates instead of allowing me to distribute the beers among everyone.

No free beer.

Not for me at least.

But, on the last night of fanfest, the unlikeliest of saviours crossed my path - The Twitchy Guy. After regaling them with my glories in the tournament and then my subsequent predicament. he and his equally useless cohorts told us about the pubcrawl on the previous night. Apparently, some particularly unscrupulous pilot had stolen one of the Dev's jackets, which happened to contain all his free beer tokens. They were sure to mention that it wasn't them... just before offering me a handful of beer tokens. All in all, a very satisfactory end to a good weekend.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Operation: Lazarus (Part 2)

The following is taken straight from Anselm Cenobite's After Action Report.

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I went to bed when the Saturday night fleet disanded, so I missed the final action when Jay and the British lads logged on, so he'll have to fill in those details in a part II eve-mail. However, this part I message will summarize the first half of the night/morning's events.

A few of the US lads stayed on in the wormhole during the day (Saturday) to keep an eye on things. We had originallly discussed with Ludis and Jay the possibility of using the Orca to roll wormhole entrances, but decided not to do it. (There were only 3 of us active in the Wormhole, and a 4th mostly AFK, so we didn't feel we had the muscle-power to protect the Orca while rolling holes).

Ludis eventually had to go to bed, and about this time, the hostiles starting getting friskky. There were three we knew of, one in a cov ops, another switching back and forth between Talos and arbitrator, and the third in a Talos. The Talos started nosing out of their POS while the, shooting at the bubbles we had put up the night before with a Talos. I maneuvered out in a pilgrim tried managed to get close enough to decloak and bump him a bit away from the POS shields, but the forcefield broke my cloak, and he ran back inside with no significant damage. I cloaked up and retreated, as his buddy showed up in an Arazu and the two of them together, cautiously, took out the last bubble.

We did by luck find a nice K162 leading directly to high-sec, 4 jumps from Jita about two hours before it would come out of reinforced, and when the enemy starting showing signs of activity, I was worried they would find this new entrance. So, I hollered in alliance until JeanPaul and a few others showed up, and eventually we gathered a fleet large enough to do some damage, and collapsed the high-sec exit in the process. The last two or three pilots would have to use the low-sec exit, and we moved the main fleet to sit on the U210 lowsec static.

About 25 minutes before the POS would come out of reinforced, we had sent one pilot through the low-sec as a warp-to person for stragglers, when he discovered there were a big bunch of ships sitting on our wormhole waiting to come in. He hollered in coms, and I called for everyone to warp away. (We actually slightly outnumbered the attackers, we discovered later, but we had no logistics ships and they had four logis). Our fleet tried to move back to the friendly POS, but at least two pilots got stuck and scrambled by the newcomers. We lost a hyperion and at least one other ship in that encounter.

The hostile fleet turned out to be a mixed bag of mercs. About a dozen sat on the wormhole exit while others helped escort the locals in moving out ships from their POS into known space. It looked like the locals were giving up and tearing everything down, including offlining their tower. We decided not to engage and let them move out, since our ultimate goal was to take the system after all. We did, however, scan down an alternative exit so our pilots in pods could reship. (We ultimately found a route to high-sec through several intermediary wormholes).

It turned out a bit more complicated. We were soon contacted by one of the mercs, who informed us that the locals had decided to leave the system, and they had hired the mercs to negotiate a sale of the wormhole. If we were not willing to buy the wormhole from them, the locals were willing to pay us [the mercs] to "uninhabit" us from the wormhole ultimately. I made general diplomatic noises, and told them they would have to talk to Jay. 

Then, we saw the locals had not just offlined their tower--they had immediately rebooted it and started onlining it again during these discussions. There was much groaning, because we thought they had restronted it and we were going to have to do the big POS bash all over again. About this time, it looked like the night was over. The other Brits had not yet come back online, and it was 1:30 a.m. here on the East Coast, so we started to break up the fleet, with several members feeling blue-balled and a little frustrated. I left Anselm logged in, parked cloaked in system, but went to sleep for about four hours.

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Blanks filled by Jay Joringer

I logged back in  ready for the reinforcement timer and couldn't believe what people were telling me. Re-anchored then re-filled the strontium bay? And threatening to kick us out if we don't buy. It didn't wash with me.

Firstly, I didn't believe those friends of theirs were mercs. I knew Max and his guys rolled with AAA and a various assortment of lowsec nobodies, and that's what the killmail looked like. The only part that might ring true was the lone member of Aquilla Inc in among their gang.  But given that they tried to bluff the guys with the tower being re-anchored and re-stronted, I liked the odds that merc thing was also a bluff. It seemed like Max just called in a few favours from individual pilots who sent a few alts to help him out. Whether what I thought was right or wrong was soon to be a moot point anyway.

More of the fleet logged on, and I called their bluff. Maxemus Payne and his scanner alt, Ennrion were sat in the forcefield. Seeing the fleet re-engaging his tower, Max burned out of the forcefield to take potshots at one of our own Talos', but warped away when Ludis Drakava and Keeley Ellis broke off the main fleet to pursue. The Anathema in the forcefield warped off towards the U210 and the scout confirmed both ships jumped out to lowsec.

I wasn't going to take the chance of him getting a warp in for any friends who might be able to help him out so we got the Orca to mass it straight away. I posted sentry on the lowsec side in the Loki. The Anathema probably had eyes on the whole time and I wasn't disappointed to see Max warp in to engage  He wasn't doing alot from 50km out, but I wasn't going to change that by burning straight at him. I took a wide arc, then cut back on his orbit with MWD and Point overheated. When he realised what had just happened, he went offline, but too late - Kill: Maxemus Payne (yeah, for some reason he engaged a Phoenix moments before).

He logged back in a minute or so later, cursing his ISP. I'm reliably told by Riley that Ennrion is one of Max's alts and he was online the whole time. Now, I'm not saying it wasn't a legitimate d/c - I'll let people make their own minds up on that one.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the fleet had the tower back down at 26% and had started reciting Blackstar's adopted mantra: always bet on stupid. On the face of it, the threats and posturing seemed like a good idea, but then again, a bluff is still a good option if it's the only play you've got. We collapsed the U210 before the scanner or any support could arrive and it wasn't too long before the [BOOKS] tower made a pretty explosion. They'd managed to clear out anything of any value while the US guys were on their watch, so we didn't have a piƱata party, but that didn't matter so much - The system was ours.

Operation: Lazarus (Part 1)

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Blogged by Jay Joringer

Blackstar's Jericho Wing had been complaining about the amount of traffic that was moving through their highsec static, as well as the amount of K162's that were prone to appearing in their system. This was making difficult for them to do their production. As much as this sounds like it's coming from a true bunch of carebears, it's part of the game. Those guys have stuck with Blackstar through thick and thin, so I wasn't about to ignore them. Besides, a quieter system might see Jarett on the wrong side of the killboard a little less. With that in mind, a C3 with a lowsec static was probably the best place to move all the guys from the C2 into. 

As it happens, we had spotted a decent one. Respectable PI, all Interbus customs offices. There was someone living in it, however; The Board of Education. It took me a while, and a small amount of digging to remember where I'd heard of them before. It was on their killboard that I spotted the familiar name of Riley Augustin, CEO of The Inheritors, who we've roamed with a few times. I chatted with Riley and asked if he was up for a little payback. Pirates never seem to say 'no' to those kind of opportunities. He did mention Max from [BOOKS] was a cool guy, but they were "sworn enemies".

Fleet up for the op was delayed a little while we waited for the U210 to despawn. [BOOKS] had a medium Amarr tower with no shield hardeners anchored, so we'd opted for a shield fleet. In the main, Ravens with Mjolnir Torpedoes, but a fair few Oracles, Tornadoes and Talos' backed up with a couple of Basi's. The EU corporations provided the bulk of the fleet along with a couple from [RINGS], but Universal Novatech Inc. conspicuous by their absence once again.

We'd set up the staging POS which we named Lazarus as we were once again starting C3 operations earlier in the day. As luck would have it, the C3 spawned a connection to another C3 that had a highsec static and to top things off, it was owned by The Flying Dutchmen, who we'd flown with while part of B274. Thankfully, they were cool about us moving an Orca an a couple of T3's through (although while they happily agreed to it in convo, who wouldn't expect a trap, right?). True to their word, they let us pass without incident.

The fleet had moved to Skarkon the connecting lowsec system when Lord WhoDAT decided to show up. Only 45 minutes late, so for his standards, that was pretty good. We'd even met up with Riley and his contribution to the op (1 other pilot) by then. The combined fleet was already engaging the tower when Whodat finally got his shit together. I called for a scout to guide him into the system, but he'd somehow managed to get himself camped in a station by a Brutix and a Typhoon and was screaming over TS for the fleet to stop shooting the tower and go help him. We could only spare one scout to go help him out, but he was AFK, so I asked WhoDAT to undock to see what was outside the station and where. He announced that a Machariel had joined the party, which changed things dramatically. Ravens would be pretty useless and it would eat the attack Battlecruisers for breakfast. Of course, with the numbers we had, we could work something out, but we'd need the scout. For the time being the order was "sit tight." Apparently, that order was too complicated and someone was about to learn the hard way just how good a Machariel is at bumping ships off an undock. Shortly afterwards, the alliance recieved this:


From: Lord WhoDAT
To: Enigma Project [EXIII]



And for completion, here's the lossmail. Feel free to leave a comment.

Funnily enough, the alliance CEO's were discussing whether The Cleansing should be booted from the alliance. It's amazing how one guy being a complete tool on an a lowsec undock can save you a lot of delicate diplomacy.

Unencumbered by [CLNZ.], Enigma Project  finished the first phase of the op smoothly.  At least this POS was set up correctly and shot back, but then again, with as few guns and  ECM as there was on the tower, it may has well have been unarmed. The fleet moved seamlessly from one module to the next and it wasn't long before the guns were trained on the tower itself. It was too much to hope for that they had neglected to fill the strontium bay, although it wasn't completely full.

Once again, it was awesome to see the numbers committed to it. Even though POS bashing isn't the most exciting thing to be doing, it was good to get the guys together and talk shit over TS while ruining someone's day - that's the part that makes the ops worthwhile. With Lazarus firmly in place and the [BOOKS] POS into reinforced until 7am the next morning and all the defence modules incapacitated, we called it a night early so we could be ready to hit it again once it came out of RF. The US guys didn't need to do anything, but we left Anselm to keep watch until we logged back in...

(to be continued)