New Player Training Session: Exploration Fleet!

CCP Gargant offered a newb course today in exploration with the promise to die gloriously in a wormhole.  The event was designed for newbs and I gingerly log my RvB toon in that has a total of 1.5mil SP, can fly a Gallente Frigate well and hit a barn door if it is really close and doesn’t move.  Only just.

Look, the time is about to be perfect for the fleet to form up and I gulp down a lunch sandwich like a snake swallows a rabbit, fill the glass, empty the bladder (TMI?  this stuff is important, newbs need to know all about the Battle Bottle) and tell the wife that I am working on something really important and that she should stay out of my way for a bit.  She kinda believes it since I am doing this on my laptop.  A misnomer.  If I actually had this thing on my lap while playing EVE, I’d been in hospital with 3rd degree burns to my private parts.  It pays to wear fire-proof Depends for more reasons than raiding.

Anyway.  My toon is in RvB and I expect to be blapped away by the evil enemy in the forming fleet but Purple > Red and weirdly people actually follow that rule.  CCP Gargant and CCP Phantom are already herding the cats, very capably supported by ISD Tipene, FlowinSpice and later ISD CraftyPoint.  Fleet chatter is fun also, clearly, we are dealing with 70+ newbs, they are sweet, innocent and full of enthusiasm for the game and upcoming mission.  Soon they will be corrupted by nullsec and think that porn is cool but for now the CCP crew spares no minute to explain that we are all going to end up in a WH without an exit and will have to self destruct our pods.

There was no ambiguity about the outcome of this event.  Some capable folks translated CCP Gargant’s instructions into Russian which to me – it shows my age – always sounds like orders to nuke the Eastern Seaboard.  But slowly order is established and an eager blob of frigates, destroyers and quite a few logistics boats huddles the undock before the adventure.

Forming up

I am a little hesitant, CCP has a track record of royally screwing up community events and while I don’t care about my boat or my Pod, it would pain me to see the newbs disappointed.  But so far, all is well, CCP Gargant finds a WH a few jumps down the chain and orders the team to jump in.  Man, fleet chat was so sweet.  A Wormhole!

Jumping in

Its a C3 and I wonder what will happen next.  No way we will run a C3 site, will we? Well, we warp to a planet and burn away a little, our ball of Frigates not sure what to do next. The decision is taken from us when a straggler reports a fleet of >20 T3s and logistic ships on the hole we just came through.  Evidently, we have a tail of people who wish us dead.  CCP Gargant does the one correct thing, orders everyone to warp to some other planet when the first hostiles land on grid.  I was – of course – already aligned but chose to jump back to the high sec hole – I feel very naked in my Atron without a probe launcher and didn’t relish the thought of getting lost in this place.  Of course, I land in a bubble but manage to burn to the hole itself and jump into High Sec.

Ok, now what.  We seem to have lost a few frigates and I stick my head into the hole periodically to get an idea who is where.  The field around the HS hole has a few wrecks but only one fight – CCP Gargant must have warped directly into the bubble and is being tackled by  at least 1o ships.  He reports that he now must sing a song to allow free us passage – thus are the rules in EVE.  He jumps on the comms of the opposing team and belts out the Barbie Song on top of his large lungs.  Our fleet is in stitches laughing and most are still alive since they are warping around safe spots in this C3.  The song is recorded on twitch and the link is shared across New Eden.

The song is over, free passage is granted and words are kept (props to those guys.  They forwent a CCP killmail by keeping their word.  Not everyone would have done that), I jump back in, this time for good.  CCP Gargant decides this is as good a moment as any and warps our ball of frigates into an anomaly.

Ok, so C3 anomalies are not that hard but doing this with a single T3 (Gargant), a couple of cruisers and 50+ frigates sounds, err.., suicidal.  So of course, I take the warp and find myself on a familiar grid, just normally, I have a Tengu strapped to my POD, not an Atron….

Well, only one way to live through this – get under the guns, get there fast, keep transversal up and have the mouse over the “Need armor – right the frack now or I will die” button.  Which I never have to press, with so many targets, the sleepers likely suffered a nervous breakdown.  We blow through this site in record time with only one lost frigate.

More sites?  Nah.  There is a nullsec hole.  Lets go!

We end up in Thukker space and of course, nobody is home, its nullsec of course.  Moons are mined, planets are farmed and grand stories about nullsec are told.  But nothing actually happens.  I elect myself scout (I am no good at this but better than most of my fleet mates who have never seen a bubble…) and chase forward.  The team behind me scans for WHs but I am keen to drop this fleet of total newbs onto some oh-so-serious nullsec ratter.  Would that not be sweet?

Well, 5 jumps later, not one single pilot anywhere and CCP Gargant has scanned down a WH.  Its red, its throbbing and no, its not x-rated.  We jump in.  Its a C5.  This could be interesting.  C5s sort of work like nullsec, its all about CTAs and pressing F1.  You need a big team to do anything and consequently, they have timers, are serious about it but most of the time, they are not actually in their hole.  So, this is actually pretty safe.  And yes, no active POS either.  What to do?

CCP Gargant has to go soon – the singing / ransom threw his schedule (although it made it into my favorite Dev right there on the spot) and I imagine it got dark in Iceland a few hours (months) ago.  He gives options to the fleet and one of them is to attempt to run a site here in this hole and die gloriously in the attempt.  Of course we take it.  I have never run a C5 site before – but I know that they hit like dump trucks.

Fleet warp is taken.  We land on grid and apparently someone already cleared the first wave – we have discarded drones on the field.  The sleepers likely can’t believe their eyes that they are about to be attacked by a swarm of T1 frigates but thats exactly what we do and they melt like wax.  Well, the Battleships, not so much.  My interface is getting choppy, a lot of stuff has to rendered and my laptop smells like burned plastic (really, not making this up).  I pick a Battleship, MWD on and under its guns and try my blasters which have exactly no effect whatsover.  I just hang here, I think – expecting to be primaried and volleyed off the field by the sleepers any time.  But the volley never comes.  Eventually, we bring down the entire C5 site with nothing but a couple of cruisers, a single T3, some Logi and, yes, a gaggle of T1 random-fitted frigates!

Unbelievable but true.  I would have -never- believed that my first C5 run would be in a 3 mill (if that) Atron.

C5 in frigates

High-fives are exchanged, and the CCP crew signs off – the hot way of course.  We joyously primary them and while it takes forever, whats the point of bringing ammunition back home?

The rest of the fleet splits up, some backtrack via the C3, I take the shorter route via Nullsec and are accompanied by a few fellow capsuleers, Korraz being one of them.  We somehow make it 23 jumps to safety – 3 camps never saw us coming, I suppose.

Overall, it was a fantastic event – I had a blast. While it was designed as an education for newbs on WH space, it turned into a great classroom for fleet warps, got folks to “touch” a CCP employee, witness ransoming, experience PvE, PvP, see nullsec, WH space, high sec and generally have a ball in New Eden.  I wish there had been runs like this when I was a podpole.

So, gargantuan (couldn’t resist) props to CCP Gargant, Phantom and the ISD crew.  You pulled off a great event with no tricks, no special CCP skills but just sheer fun and competence.  And thanks also to my fellow fleetmates – I wish all those bitter-vet, forum trolls could have experienced your enthusiasm, energy and raw fun for the game.

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