Round one of the sixth alliance tournament is a day behind us, and we've set ourselves up nicely for a run at the cup. We faced off against KIA Alliance, a group of competent pilots who were heavily favored to take the match, at 1620 in Jove space. KIA are well known and respected throughout the galaxy, having fought in previous tournaments with a high degree of success. However, their good name did little for them. It was a massacre.
1400 that morning I woke up, earlier than normal by a long shot. My corpmate and friend VB Sarge popped up on personal coms, a welcome rarity;
"Morning, Stu. You ready for this?"
He chuckles, "No. I'm on about two hours of sleep. The things we do for a game..."
"Amen brother. I got home from the bar only four hours ago myself... hell. I guess we better log in. See you on TQ."
The screen blinked off. Mustering my energy, I tossed aside the covers and rolled out into the chilly air. Arms folded to keep in the rapidly dissipating bed warmth, I walked over to the window of my personal quarters. Outside, the Scorpion, I AM GALLIGHER!, a massive, ugly battleship, a foul example of the lack of regard Caldari ship designers have for pleasing aesthetics, gently bobbed in my docking bay at Kaalkaiota Warehouse. Last night, we'd pulled the hideous thing from the corp hangar in order to make final preparations for the first round. The things we do for a game, indeed... If the boat wasn't such a damned tough ECM platform, God knows I'd never have anything to do with it. I watched the maintainence crews skuttle about, transporting missiles, massive cap booster 800s, and drones into their respective bays. One crew was repainting the alliance logo on the side of the ship, another busied itself priming the smartbombs, yet another meticulously calibrated the microwarp and warp drives. One of the orange clad crew chiefs berated a midshipman for what appeared to be carelessness with the drones.
I entered my pod, and docked up with the Scorpion. My optics linked into TQ, voice coms were synchronized, and I was promptly greeted by the rest of the Bastards who, at present, were also busy with tournament preparations. The final make up of the fleet had been decided only a day or two earlier, with Kulmid, Jedziah, and Pacifist Priest in Abaddons, myself in a Scorpion, and Ard Unjiigo in a Scimitar. General Coochie was flying a Celestis, and Comy 2 and Mr. Frog both were piloting Griffins. The chatter was anxious, excited, and anticipatory. Over the past few weeks we'd logged a lot of flight hours on the Singularity simulator, refining our fits and tactics. We'd made mistakes, we'd learned from our mistakes, and we were ready. Underdogs? Absolutely, but only for now. These pilots and the rest of the Bastards generally represent some of the finest tactical minds in the galaxy, the very cream of the crop, and I anticipate that by the end of the tourney, we will be widely known for what we already know we are: a corp of some of the most talented and fearsome combat pilots in all of Eve.
Our fleet chat window began to blink:
GM Faolchu > Hello guys
Pacifist Priest > \o
Kulmid > hello
General Coochie > hey gm
Jedziah > o/
GM Faolchu > So I have a few bit of rule spam to give you guys
Mr Frog > gtfo of our fleet
GM Faolchu > Bear with me a little bit and I will get it out the way
GM Faolchu > ;)
Pacifist Priest > sure
Mr Frog > =)
Pacifist Priest > ignore frog
GM Faolchu > Please do not dock, undock or jump, change ships, log out/in, leave/join gang, before you are moved as this may result in you being left behind due to a session change.
GM Faolchu > When you enter the system, pick a Team 2 (a,b,c or d) beacon to warp to and stay at it untill further notice.When the order comes to warp to to Arena 1, then do so at a range of 0-50km.
GM Faolchu > Once there, do not move at all. If you do, your team will be penalized with point deductions. After this, keep a close eye on local as all commands will be broadcasted there.
GM Faolchu > Once out of the fight, move immediately to the Team 2 exit for extraction, this means as soon as you are in a pod.
GM Faolchu > Once you have walked all over the other team, then please warp to Team 2 exit as soon as possible, you have only seconds to scoop drones before the arena is cleaned up of excess debris.
GM Faolchu > So to recap: * No session changes * Pick Team 2 a,b,c,d beacon* wait for order to warp to Arena 1 at 0-50km range * Once there DO NOT move * Watch local for further instructions
GM Faolchu > * When fight is over or you have died, warp to Team 2 exit.Any questions?
Jedziah > sounds good
Jedziah > we have 1 guy with a Flaky connection
Jedziah > prior to the fight
Jedziah > can a replacement be jumped in if this happens?
Pacifist Priest > he just dc'ed
GM Faolchu > Okay if he disconnects before the fight we will try to hold it for him to reconnect
Pacifist Priest > thank you
GM Faolchu > if he does during the fight he will be moved out
GM Faolchu > but once he is in the system he can't be replaced I'm afraid
Kulmid > taht's fine
GM Faolchu > But if you are ready I can move you in now
Jedziah > 1 moment, double checking seesion changes
Jedziah > ok we are ready
GM Faolchu > alright
Our optics went black, voice coms held, but none of us said much of anything. We were all well accustomed to the unfamiliar sensations varied competing gravitational forces could subject you to, having flown throughout the galaxy for years, but nothing could have prepared us for this. We simply popped out of existence for a moment, not unlike how a bubble pops when touched, and popped back into being someplace in Jovian space, everything at once, the entire fleet, in an instant, as though we'd been thought out of and back into being thousands of AUs away by some benign but all powerful God.
Our fleet chat blinked again with a message from Falchou:
GM Faolchu > Once here pick a team 2 beacon to gather at, let me know which one and I will meet you there
Voice coms lit up, and consensus was quickly reached. We aligned toward our destination and fired up our warp drives. Kulmid messaged Faolchu mid warp:
Kulmid > we are gonna gather at team 2a
Faolchu acknowledged, and as we dropped out of warp we saw him arrive in an Opux Dragoon. He set an orbit around the beacon and continued his transmission:
GM Faolchu > Also if you see a countdown in local it will only be for you if CCP Claw is in your arena to start your match
GM Faolchu > We have had a few cases of people mistaking a end countdown for another fight for the start of theirs
Kulmid > Arena 1 or 2?
GM Faolchu > 1
GM Faolchu > Ok guys you can align to arena 1 now, but do not warp yet
Priest gave the order to align and we carefully set our ships on a course toward the beacon. Initiating the movement of a fleet has always been captivating for me to watch. It's not unlike the sound of disparate notes falling into harmony with each other. The Griffins and the two cruisers, high notes, quickly whipped around and burned toward the beacon while the Abaddons and my Scorp, the deep bass, turned gradually toward the arena. The excitement was palpable, adrenaline enhanced our senses better than any synth booster could. We could already hear the music in our ears. Fleet blinked:
GM Faolchu > Please warp in now to Arena 1, and remember not to move once there, then keep an eye on local for CCP Claw to give a 60 second warning, then a 10 second countdown,follow by a ECM burst and after that start the fight, there will be no other countdown...
We warped in to the arena separately, EW at 50km, Abaddons at 0. As we dropped out of warp, we got our first glimpse of the enemy fleet. Ishtars. Lots of Ishtars. Seven Ishtars, in fact, with what appeared to be a Vigil thrown in for good measure. The consensus across the galaxy prior to the tournament had been that that Ishtars, under the current tournament rules, would be the ship to beat. KIA, apparently, had listened to the prattlings of the Eve punditry. Our testing, however, had indicated that ishtars tended not to be very survivable, and the rules favored DPS v EHP type engagements. While the Ishtars are capable of fielding high amounts of damage, they sorely lacked a tank capable of withstanding much direct damage. Regardless, sentry drones are tremendously powerful snipers, and experience has shown us never to underestimate an opponent (a piece of common sense which, apparently, KIA had failed to internalize).
Our FC immediately began assigning primary, secondary, and tertiary targets. EW was managed the same way.
CCP Claw > 1 minute until Gallente Militia vs IDLE EMPIRE begins
The clock ticked down for them and the fight kicked off. We continued our final tactical preparations.
Faolcu tossed a few reminders our way:
GM Faolchu > There is still a fight going on currently in Arena 2, so if a countdown is done to end that fight don't confuse it for the start of yours ;)
GM Faolchu > You will see me and the camera ships come in and cloak prior to yours
One of the Ishtar pilots dropped out of local on TQ and ship warped off. Grins began to spread across our faces. We smelled blood. Fleet blinked:
GM Faolchu > That guy had a bugged client and is relogging ;)
Kulmid > heh
Kulmid > we'll take it
The ishtar returned, the clock began to wind down. 16:17
"3 minutes" Jed observed over vent. Our nerves were on high alert, fingers were tapping. All eyes on local. The last match had ended some time ago. We waited.
GM Faolchu > Guys remember to warp out if you get destroyed
16:19, local blinks.
CCP Claw > 1 minute to go until fight begins in arena 1
This is it. The adrenaline began to pump back into our bloodstreams.
CCP Claw > When the match is about to start, I will count down from 10 in local chat. At 1, I will set off a large ECM burst. This can sometimes have a slight delay, so once it is set off, I will say GO. DO NOT BEGIN MOVING, FIRING, OR LOCKING UNTIL I SAY GO.
CCP Claw > 10 seconds to start
CCP Claw > 5
CCP Claw > 4
CCP Claw > 3
CCP Claw > 2
CCP Claw > 1
CCP Claw > go
The overloaded engines exploded into action. The Abaddons burned toward the ishtars full speed, guns hot, feverishly targeting their primary. The Scimitar burned straight back away from the Ishtars, slapping it's tracking enhancers on the three Abaddons. Drones flew out of the drone bays of nearly all the ships on the field. Warriors from the Bastards, Hammerheads from KIA.
A flash of white light. The first ishtar exploded, popped by the triple volley of the laser boats. The secondary and tertiary targets had already been queued, and they each began to take fire from different Abaddons. They were going down fast. No need to focus fire anymore. Cooch damped Ishtar after Ishtar. Comy, Frog, and myself continued to pour our ECM onto the targets assigned, effectively shutting down their hopes of using ewar against the rapidly approaching Abaddons.
KIA was in disarray, shocked by the violence of action we assaulted them with, shocked by how quickly the Abaddons chewed through their primary target. They turned tail and ran from the onslaught, desperately trying to maintain distance enough to where their remote sensor dampeners could have an effect, but to no avail. They dropped like dead birds killed mid flight.
The remaining ishtars split their drones between my Scorpion, Cooch's Celestis, and Comy's Griffin. The Griffin went down quickly, and the Celestis was not far behind it. They quickly sent the remainder of their drones after my Scorp, and I gave the command to activate the smartbombs. Hammerhead after Hammerhead exploded. Shockwave after shockwave flewfrom my ship in a terrible halo of EM and Kinetic damage, slicing through shields and cutting through the hulls of the thinly armored drones. Another Ishtar explosion lit up the sky.
EVETV Camera 04 > ouch
Two of them had set a command to maintain range from the Abaddons and were forced out past the boundary where they were promptly destroyed by Jove arena tech. One Ishtar remained. The Abaddons closed in like sharks and ripped through the shields and armor, thoroughly dismantling it. The final explosion lit up the sky. Pieces of Gallente ship floated into space. The final KIA pod warped off toward its team exit.
Pacifist Priest > YARR!
Kulmid > yarr
Mr Frog > YARR!!!
Jedziah > Yarr!
CCP Claw > gf
Mahn AlNouhm > YARR!!!
Ard UnjiiGo > YARR!!
Comy 2 > gf
General Coochie > gf
Ard UnjiiGo > gf
Comy 2 > YARRR
Mahn AlNouhm > gf
Pacifist Priest > gf
Mr Frog > gf lads
Ard UnjiiGo > can we loot?
Necronomicon > gf :P
Mascot Mike > gf
Mascot Mike > ship name was appropriate :D
Total time elapsed, 2:37 seconds.
Voice coms erupted in jubilation. Cheers, back slapping, hell yeahs. The Bastards took down the over hyped, heavily favored KIA! Utter decimation! Annihalation! Absolute carnage, in the words of the match commentators.
We popped back into local where the rest of the alliance had gathered, having, for all intents and purposes, barring the most unlikely sequence of events, secured ourselves a spot in the playoffs. We picked up voice coms, opened up DBastards and reveled in our victory with the other members of our corp and alliance. We had the sweet satisfaction of knowing the KIAEddz would be commentating on the next few fights in an utterly downtrodden and gutted state. I opened up and tipped back a well deserved beer. Bar none, one of the most thrilling moments I've had with the Bastards, and we've still got six rounds left before we bring the cup back home :).
On a less jubilant note, upon docking, I was informed that my Scorpion crew lost 5 warrior II scout drones during the fight. We knew going in that losses were inevitable, but it's still a bit of a shame. The circumstances of the loss were unclear, but the best guess from DCom is that they were wiped out when the Jovian's cleared the field of wrecks and unguided drones.
We certainly saw it coming. Only recently have my crews begun outfitting the fleet with tech 2 variants of the warrior drone, and it was widely understood that some losses were inevitable. It happens every time you field a new technology without extensive training. The tests we'd done on the Singularity sim were inadequate, really, acting as little more than a crash course in fleet drone combat. The fact is my ship crews currently have very limited experience with the complexities of drone operation, and the ECM support role we filled in the tourney demanded we spend the majority of the fight far outside their effective drone control range. I've passed word down, however, that my captains are to begin training the crews on drone navigation, interfacing, and electronic warfare interfacing as soon as is reasonably possible. Given the preparations we've been undergoing for the pending addition of a Pilgrim and a Curse to the fleet, the time is more than past due.
Of course, my losses pale in comparison to those of the venerable General Coochie and Comy 2. They lost a celestis and a griffin, respectively. Given that the tournament is such a tremendous opportunity to imbue the Bastards with a level of prestige our pirate activities have, to this point, been unable to, we made the decision to reimburse members of the fleet for any losses they might incur over the course of the battle.
Even so, losses notwithstanding, we fared much better than expected, and surprised a lot of people.
Our victims from the past year and a half of incorporation weren't surprised in the least.