Wednesday, January 29, 2014

B-R5RB Report from an Nulli Secunda Pilot

I was contacted by a Nulli Secunda supercarrier pilot named Grim Determination who offered to give a first hand report of the carnage in B-R5RB on Monday.

Grim Determination (GD): As a bit of a primer:

I had just awoken and turned on my computer at around 8:30 CST when my jabber pings started going off for supers/slowcats. I hesitated, as I was working from home and had a list of things I needed to get done, but the pings kept coming and I hurried to log my super in and prepare to jump in. At this point, the information passed to us was somewhat fragmentary. We knew that B-R’s sov had fallen, and that the Russians had taken up position on the station. In a bit of a bizarre twist, Pandemic Legion had started an expedition to the drone regions with the majority of the AUTZ super fleet. They had 6 jumps to take to return to B-R which they managed in less than 30 minutes. When they were one jump out of B-R, the remainder of the early EUTZ super fleet was told to prepare to jump, combat fit, into B-R. The time was approximately 10 AM CST.

Kirith Kodachi (KK): About how many pilots in fleet(s) did you have at this time? Was there any subcap fleets on your side as well?

GD:  We had approximately 200 in the slowcat/super fleet and another 150 or so dreads on standby. Subcap wise we had an interceptor/interdictor fleet or two.

The jump in was uneventful, with the super fleet sorting its capchains and getting ready for the wrecking ball. At this point, only the Supers and slowcats had jumped. The titans and Dreads were holding put. We warped in on the station, and found an enemy dread fleet, domi fleet, and other supporting ships. We deployed bubbles around our own fleet for protection, something that would later come to haunt us to a small degree.

Primaries were called for the slowcats, and early on, the supers were primarily there for rep support. Domi’s were dying under volley fire from the slowcat sentry drones, and reps were holding on rep targets. At the time there were approximately 800 in local, TIDI and module lag were reasonable.

KK: What's reasonable? I haven't fought in null sec under tidi so I was wondering if 50% was reasonable, or 75%, etc?

GD: TIDI was between 10 and 25%. It maxxed at 10% when 1300 players were in system. The highest I saw local was 2,600 or so. TIDI was bearable because the lag was minimal and we could follow the orders given.

Things began to escalate, and CFC titans jumped in, prompting the immediate call for all friendly titans to jump to a cyno lit in the middle of the slowcat/super fleet. Dreads were called for as well, and the tidi maxed out at 10%. The module lag was still bearable, and CFC primaried the first N3/PL Titan. Around the same time, the first primaries were called for the super fleet, and we chewed through 15-20 dreadnaughts. During that period, it was a bit of a shock to us that CFC had primaried a PL titan and were chewing through it. Reps on all non-titan targets were abandoned, and several archons died to the subcap fleets. All rep power was focused on the friendly titan, and its death was slowed. But even the approximate 400-500 friend Capital armor reps could not stop the titan dying. The first titan died, then another, and the supers stopped trying to kill dreads. Titan primaries were called, and friendly doomsdays were slamming into them. Bynoon, the module lag was close to unbearable. Every action triggered the “Soul Crushing Lag” popup box, and the average server call time was 9 minutes for me.

What does that mean in practical terms? Here’s an example. A friendly titan was called as a rep target. 3-5 minutes would pass before it showed in the broadcast window. 7-9 minutes would pass before I could successfully lock the target. It only took “4 seconds” (40 seconds with tidi) for the graphical circle to go around in the screen, but another 8 minutes would pass as it flash “locked” before it showed as a target in the target window. At this point the friendly titan was at 60% armor. I activated my capital armor repairers. ANOTHER 9 minutes before they activate on the target. His armor is now at 5%. This was repeated throughout the day, and it was almost impossible to save anything. The early ratio was 2 N3/PL titans dead for every CFC titan dead, a ratio that continued throughout the day and into the night.

KK: With so much time between command-action-reaction, how do you keep engaged over such a prolonged fight?

GD: We literally had no choice, by this time we were not only surrounded by our own anchorable bubbles, but we had hundreds of dictor and hictor bubbles around us. It was taking about an hour for CFC titans to die, and less than that for ours to. Another thing I forgot to mention, the CFC/RUS forces bubbled and blockaded our staging systems, which prevented much in the way of N3/PL reinforcement outside capital ships. This turned out to be a significant factor.

By 3PM CST, my local d-scan looked like this: (edit: see images below) a terrifying spectacle of the biggest capital/supercapital fight in EVE’s history. Dreads and carriers were irrelevant. Supers were ignored as unworthy of doomsdays, all that mattered was the soul crushing lag as titans died, one by one. Around this time, the CFC started to clear the bubbles around it, and their titans under fire would attempt to jump or warp. Several managed this, but the rapecage bubble around the N3/PL titans prevented the same tactic there.

One of the unmentioned elements from the fight, was the effectiveness of the CFC/RUS domi fleet. 300 domis would neut whichever titan the CFC primaried, drastically reducing the uptime for their active hardeners, and in my opinion, the biggest reason for the 2:1 titan death ratio. I don’t know who their FC was, but he did an amazing job.
KK: Was there a counter-part subcap fleet for N3/PL side?
GD: Other than the interceptor fleet, no.

Another unmentioned thing, was that drones were very finicky. Early on in the fight, drone assist triggers would use sentries to great effect, but by the time the 3rd or 4th titan died, drone assist no longer worked, and the majority of the sentries and fighter bombers would not fire. The fight was largely Titans and dreads vs. Titans and dreads. Even when fighter bombers worked, the TIDI, soul crushing lag, and distances they needed to travel rendered them next to useless.

At 4PM CST, the node appeared to stagger, and many of us thought it had crashed, but 5 minutes later, it sputtered back to life and the fight resumed. Also around this time, many people had connection issues. I DC’d and came back and the targets I had locked showed as still locked, but I could not activate modules on them. I DC’d again at 4:45 CST and was unable to log back on. Real life intervened and I couldn’t return to my computer until after 10PM. Reports from participants told me my nyx had never disappeared, so I managed to log back in, after 20 minutes of attempts and lag. By this time it was clear things were bleak for the N3/PL forces. We were bubbled beyond belief and the rate we could kill titans had slowed. Oaths were sworn that we would rebuild and overcome, and the orders were given to save what you could. I managed, with some help from a corp dread on the field, to kill the anchored bubbles near me and MWD slowly out of the HIC bubble I was in. I jumped, and my foray into B-R was over.

KK: Did a lot of pilots on your side report similar connection issues?

GD: Yes, a significant number would DC and take 15 minutes to come back. But never more than a small fraction were gone at any given time.

KK: In terms of impact, does the N3/PL feel the battle was a major or minor blow to their war efforts, or somewhere in between?

GD: It will have an effect on N3/PL’s ability to make war, without a doubt. Several of the titans we used as bridge titans were destroyed, so formups will be harder until they’re replaced. But the coalition command has been adamant we’ll keep fighting.

KK: If a similar fight was about to happen in the future, would you and others jump in again or is there some trepidation now?

GD: Honestly, around about 4 PM I stopped worrying about my Nyx, if it died, it died. I was glad and relieved to get it out when I was able to, but yes I would jump in again if I was ordered to. There was no screaming or scapegoating or blame for the B-R fight, we had no choice but to go “All-in” and in EVE, as in poker, going “All-in” is no guarantee of victory. I think that in some ways B-R demystified supercapitals in EVE, they’re no longer invulnerable giants when they travel in packs, held as a club over the other side. They’re just as killable as any other EVE ship.

KK: Awesome, thanks for the interview!


  1. Cool post. I was in the last Domi fleet to arrive, late in the battle, to neut titans. It was taking 10-20 minutes real time for a titan to go down after we applied neuts at that point. Given that we were running at 10% tidi, that would have meant 1-2 minutes of game time.