Difference between revisions of "The History of AGONY"
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Early history (Origins - Pure Blind II) by Rells. Later history (Curse I ) by Azual.</small>
==Origins of Agony==
==Origins of Agony==
Revision as of 19:41, 20 April 2012
Early history (Origins - Pure Blind II) by Rells. Later history (Curse I - Syndicate III) by Azual.</small>
Origins of Agony
Rells founded AGONY with a desire to break from big alliance warfare and teach the basics of frigate combat. The first ever PvP-Basic class was run soon after, with 12 students and an ad-hoc curriculum. It was an inauspicious start, but the message was there. New players can be effective in PvP, and that there's a world outside massive sov. warfare.
The First Wolfpacks
Date: April 30th, 2006
PVP-BASIC had been running quite regularly by spring of 2006. It was starting to become more well known, advertised by word of mouth and a bit of discreet system spamming. The classes were running 30 or so pilots per class. However many of our graduates wanted more and so did I.
So several months later I am sitting in MHC-R3 with the first group of about 12 students for the pvp Wolfpacks class. We had intel that an enemy fleet was coming up the pipe from the far end near solitude and they were blasting everything in their path. Slightly ahead of the main fleet was a single Megathron and his tackling buddy. He was presumedly the bait for the main fleet. Once he got you engaged then he would call in his friends and they would finish you off. He certainly did not expect what happened.
The Megathron jumped into MHC-R3 from 6E-578 and warped after the ship he saw there. He came out of warp 100km off the gate inside a small mobile warp disruptor. Immediately the destroyers on the bubble jumped him, tagging him with EWAR. "Point!!!" yelled an excited Sever Aldaria (nearly blowing my eardrums.) "Damp, Track, Web," the calls came in over Ventrilo. The intrepid mega pilot had been reduced to a paperweight in effectiveness and his valuable tank melted like butter on a hot sunny day. At the same time Rells noticed half the players in he gang were orbiting the mega and in the bubble. Local had already spiked and the relief fleet was in warp. I said over and over again, "get out of the bubble, get out of the damn bubble." As soon as the last destroyer was clear I engaged warp to a safespot, the parting shot from students popping both the pod and wreck. Right as the crew were warping out, the reinforcements were arriving. The landing fleet had to see us flying off grid as they arrived.
What followed was smack talk like you had rarely seen in your life. Of course they blew up the bubble and told us how stupid we were that we couldn't fly a battleship like "real men." However, I was busily trying to calm down my crew who were suffering from the after effects of adrenaline rush. This was 2006 in Eve online. People just didn't PvP in destroyers. Destroyers were a piece of garbage that had no use whatsoever. However, this Megathron pilot learned what happens when people think out of the box and to the students involved, it served as a lesson that you don't have to have the biggest ship to win at pvp.
After the fight we collected ourselves and roamed a bit. We caught a couple more ships and toasted them but then time ran out as the class evaporated to the pressure of duties outside Eve Online. After we broke up Choran posted his video of the incident (which used to be on our server) and I posted about the video to the main Eve forums in order to advertise our classes.
You have to understand that our classes weren't well known and were almost universally condemned as being a scam to rip off newbies or at best devoid of value. Our videos of fights were claimed to have been staged with a throwaway ship in order to bilk players out of isk. You can see on the video post thread what the reaction of the players at the time was. When presented with video evidence they had to believe. However most thought that the Megathron was stupid. "I could kill 14 destroyers in my Ishtar no problem, especially 14 pilotted by relatively new players," claimed one pilot. The thread devolved into a flame war that kept it pinned to the top for a week and filled subsequent classes to the point that we had to upgrade our vent account.
The next few basic classes were packed, Wolfpacks class was even more packed. We were up to 30 destroyers with two covops pilots flying recon. The hurt was put on syndicate. They started avoiding wolfpacks when Carenthor loon dropped us on two different eagles and they blew so fast not even all the cycled guns on the destroyers went off. Wolfpacks was now a bastion of the AGONY curriculum and strangely the laughter at the destroyers in local subsided.
Base of operations : UM-Q7F
It was in 2006 that AGONY made its first real foray into 0.0 space for the purpose of living. Since Jump Freighters had not been introduced yet and capitals were restricted to massive alliances, the move resembled an old Battlestar Galactica episode with a train of haulers protected by several smaller ships via recon. The system UM-Q7F was the destination of the fleet. It took a bunch of haulers and runs back and forth with ships but the agony pilots finally got all of their gear a scant two jumps into what was known at the time as the most violent area in Eve.
At this time PF-346 was a bright sun of a system on the "ships destroyed in last 24 hours" map. Anyone who wanted to prove their virtual manhood in Eve would go and try to hit PF and most of them ended up dead. The attraction of the system was more historical than anything else. PF-346 was the system where people in Beta would go to fight when there were few in the immense universe of Eve and after the start of the game PF-346 remained PVP central. Even to this day on the test server, PF-346 is the central location where people go to fight. In 2006 PF-346 was a nasty place and Syndicate was an extension of PF-346. No one could claim Syndicate for very long before they were crushed by the tide of resident and tourist PvPers. Into this violent soup I had thrown AGONY.
It wasnt easy living in 0.0 for the first time for many of our pilots. You had to constantly watch your back and you were never able to relax. Some of our members couldn't handle the pressure and left. Other members thought that we should join up with larger alliances. The character Ezra from Brooklyn was one of those and despite being one of the first co-directors, he didnt get what I was trying to accomplish. The first crisis in the survival of AGONY occurred when Ezra took nearly half the corp and left to go join another alliance. I was determined to stick it out and to not have any blues unless there was something damn good in it for AGONY and there rarely was in those days.
When Ezra left I was pissed to be sure. I felt betrayed by a friend and livid. Fortunately I still had another co-founder named Rasql with me and I adopted a bright young pilot who joined with a good percentage of his entire corp after their ex-ceo stole everything from the corp and left. Sever Aldaria became another director of AGONY as did Stein Vorhees. Despite the "MHC Incident" with a class, another pilot named Carenthor Loon promised to be a future expert in covert ops. AGONY continued to run its classes and build up but out main focus was getting together the class gangs and trying to figure out how to not get crushed like a grape by the feet of the enormous alliances around us.
Necessity was the mother of invention and Knez Rex was sick of waiting for classes to go out and kick some butt. He fashioned together a Rifter, one of few ships he could fly at the time, and put on the biggest guns he could, then a small buffer tank with a plate. Then he put on two webs and a warp disruptor. At that time that is what you needed to stop an interceptor. The two webs would drop the inty by 90% each, stacking on each other and the point would keep him around -- the scrambler at the time only gave 2 points at 10km with no microwarp turnoff. Knez went out on the first fishing trip ever; he sat on the Harroule gate in MHC-R3 and just waited. His first customer was a Malediction interceptor and he destroyed it to the dismay of the inty pilot.
By this time other inventions in AGONY were well under way. The safe spot was as old as beta but very few people had bookmarks spaced around a gate at 300km. Some sniper ships which were common at the time would have a couple but the majority of bookmarks in the game were to allow a pilot to warp to 0 on a gate. At that time you could only warp to 15km and so pilots would mark 15km behind a gate and warp to the bookmark -- they were called instas. Although instas went the way of the dodo when warp to 0 came about, through thick controversy, other types of tactical bookmarks came into being. When we discovered we could warp if the target was 150km or more away we knew we could use that to our advantage. Since we didnt have huge fleets to back us up, necessity forced us to innovate and tactical bookmarks started getting marked around gates. We had straight up, behind, all manner of bookmarks. We had bookmarks to drop us 5000km off a gate to scan and other bookmarks to warp up to those sniping battleships who liked to mark directly above the gate. Our covops pilot learned to anchor the fleet in tactical warps and many a sniper died to the fledgling upstarts in AGONY. The alliance 3FA amongst others declared all out war on AGONY in 0.0.
The problem 3FA had with us was not that they couldn't out gun us; on the contrary they could crush us with firepower. Their problem was that we moved so quickly and with such agility that they couldn't catch us. We would pick off their tacklers, their lead ships and their stragglers and then vanish before they could get a hold of us. On one incident in particular a fleet of nearly 30 3FA ships were chasing the 15 man AGONY fleet through Syndicate. The race was on to get out and their tacklers and fast warping cruisers were trying to catch up to us. One rupture set up to do 4km/s was almost on top of us, being only 1/2 a jump back and 2 jumps ahead of the main 3FA fleet. AGONY went through the next gate and just stopped. As soon as the rupture came through he saw the waiting fleet and held cloak as long as he could. It wasn't long enough. The rupture was popped and podded, the wreck was destroyed and the AGONY pilots were warping off grid just as the gate was firing for the main 3FA fleet. Between the experience AGONY pilots were gaining with tacticals and the fast moving tactics, 3FA and other residents of Syndicate were stymied on how to deal with this pest of a corp.
The one thing 3FA and other had to fend us off was their vastly superior firepower and 10 to 1 superiority in pilot count. They stopped sitting at 100km and sniping because they lost a lot of ships to AGONY doing that. They stopped running ahead of thier main force because too many got picked off. They stopped attacking AGONY frigs with interceptors because fishing had become commonplace and they lost a lot of valuable interceptors to AGONY. Fleet warfare had devolved into 3FA and others sitting in a tightly bunched ball, huddled under the protection of the main fleet. The laughter at the frig packs roaming once every week through syndicate had subsided and they tried their best to avoid the classes. They had learned that smartbombing BS didn't kill the pack of pesky noobs and they had lost a lot of equipment trying. The frig packs were so quick that the fleets they deployed to take them out couldn't catch the pack and when the pack did engage those fleets the pack would lose a few cheap frigs and typically pop the most expensive thing in the other fleet. Of course the smacktalk never ceased.
AGONY wasn't content with that situation. Even though the puny corp of less than 20 active players had forced major changes in the behavior of large alliances, AGONY pilots were bloodthirsty and inventive. One day when Rells was sitting over the gate to Harroule watching the 3FA come and go, an interceptor decided to power out to his cormorant at high speed. This was not a good situation for fishing which required catching the inty at short range and pinning it to neutralize the speed tank. Rells was in an annoyed mood and had an up to date clone so he fired his tech 2 rails at the incoming interceptor. All of the shield and half the armor of the ceptor vanished in the first volley. The ceptor pressed on and ended up in orbit after closing the distance at 8km per second. But the tracking of the destroyer and the tech 2 125s was too much and the third voley finished the armor. The interceptor turned to run out of point range but the fourth volley turned the ceptor into plasma.
It occurred to Rells how to annoy his opponent at that time and he asked people to train up tech 2 small weapons and destroyers. It only required six or seven to execute the plan but ten would be better. Once trained up bookmarks were set and the next 3FA huddled fleet was to get a nasty surprise. A couple days later 3FA was firmly entrenched on the Harroule gate with fast lock tacklers. They saw 12 AGONY come in local adding to what they assumed (correctly) was the covops pilot already there. They scanned and saw the group of destroyers on scan and their snipers salivated at the comming kills. The AGONY pilots appeared on overview and the fleet commander called the primary AGONY target. They didn't get the chance to lock. It took less than six seconds and one volley from all 10 agony destroyers and a malediction was rubble on the gate and the fleet was gone. The second pass blew up a Crow and the FC sent out tacklers to grab the fleet next time they appeared. The tacklers were ready to snare the nasty ships, but the destroyer pack appeared next another 100km further away and a tackler lost their ship to a single volley. Placing more tacklers strung out, they were detearmined to take the force out. The AGONY destroyers, however, didn't oblige and appeared on the other side of the gate and launched a volley at a tech 1 cruiser. Wounded but not dead, the cruiser powered up his repair mechanisms but the second pass blew it up. After 10 min and 10 kills all the light ships had enough of the AGONY guys. They jumped out as soon as they saw the AGONY guys on overview. Chasing at them was suicide, trying to warp was too slow. Now 3FA was to be denied tacklers as was the rest of their allies in the area.
It didn't take much longer before 3FA had left the area and subsequently broke up. Over time more and more corps gained grudging respect for those pesky AGONY guys. The laughter had subsided and anyone that had locked horns with the tiny group in Syndicate came away with a healthy respect and the conclusion that they had to take a new look at tactics within Eve. Pilots had begun to fear AGONY and that made it harder to get targets for the bloodthirsty maniacs. Eventually they had to move to find more.
Great Wildlands I
Base of operations : Egbinger
The second great crisis in AGONY happened when the targets began to run thin in the Syndicate area. The big alliances had begun to leave syndicate alone and soon you could run an Iteron 5 through PF-246 without a scout. To AGONY this was practically the kiss of death. Although the classes were still running, it became harder and harder to get new targets to give the students practical experience. On top fo that, the bored AGONY pilots were drifting off to low sec at their mission alts to make money. The weekends were times of possible fight but otherwise the fertile ground of combat that had been Syndicate was dry. The directors met and decided that it was time to move.
Since Rells' old stomping ground with BSA was the Great Wildlands, and he knew the area well, that region was targeted for the move. Advance pilots were dispatched to map the area, prep instas and create tacticals for dissemination. A huge bookmark campaign was underway. Some weeks later the corp was more or less packed up and began to move -- at least partially. Some in AGONY did not want to go to Great Wildlands and for the first solid month in GW, the corp was split in half. People were reluctant to change where they fought and some were just plain lazy. Bickering had started to develop in AGONY on the forums and elsewhere. Once in Great Wildlands, the pilots there had a tough time. The NPC stations in GW were locked up tight by numerous massive and co-NAPed alliances and they were willing to camp for years if necessary. At that time AGONY lacked the moxy to take space or construct outposts so the situation developed where AGONY was now based out of lowsec and had to traverse gate camps to enter 0.0.
There were some really spectacular fights on that entry gate, one in particular had agony pilots going back time and again for new ships to try to finish off the ships tackled and immobilized. Although the carnage was spectacular, agony continued to learn about intel, teamwork and tactics. The fledgling corp learned how to traverse hostile space and the value of good intel. The fleets became good at using a new concept called Skirmishers. A skirmisher was a tackler pilot racing sometimes several jumps ahead of the fleet to find targets. The skirmisher could move much faster than the fleet and skipped through empty systems in the route quickly, giving him time to look for targets in occupied systems while the main fleet caught up. The fleet movements became more fluid and deadly. Agony fleets could cover huge expanses of space quickly with very little stopping and waiting on gate. With several skirmishers the fleet could probe alternate branches and even pull rear guard to allow them to double back on hostile forces.
However, times were tough in AGONY and antipathy was high. People hated living in lowsec and they hated even more dealing with opponents that seemed to only show up in fleets of 400 and were all NAPed together. People drifted off to mission agents to recover from combat losses and AGONY was spread out all over the universe. At this time AGONY was in mortal threat of becoming one of many corps that just didn't make it in the hostile world of Eve. Although Rells was trying to keep the corp together with the other leadership, the whole PvP situation simply sucked. Squadrons came into being in order to manage the issue and try to put people closer to their commanders and that had some good effects but it didn't recover things. Furthermore, the more problems the GW people had, the harder it was to get people still in Syndicate to move. AGONY was, quite simply, dieing slowly. People were peeling off AGONY to go elsewhere and Rells was pained at every departure. It was becoming clear that moving to GW was, well, dumb. It was time for another change.
Pure Blind I
Base of operations : X-7OMU
The second move was agreed to by leadership and was met with a howl of protest. After all the first one wasnt so fun so it was little wonder the membership was reluctant to embrace another. Many wanted to go back to syndicate and pick up the AGONY stragglers (some of which never left there to this day). Many were just not happy. So the question was, where do we move to. All sorts of 0.0 regions were out there but had problems. Curse was rich in rat loot but occupied by rats that were a pain to kill. The regions of Catch, Outer Ring and Venal were considered but discarded because of their relatively tight pipes which favored huge fleets because they allowed few alternate routes. Pure Blind turned out to have potential. It had NPC stations, it had many alternate routes to limit the amount of trapping that can be done by large fleets. Pure blind also had the ability to access other regions as well as a high-sec to 0.0 gate which was active.
Torrinos was owned by ISS at the time. ISS was, at one time, the largest supplier of Tech 2 in the game at a time when tech 2 was made only by those with BPOs won out of a random chance lottery. ISS had collected dozens of BPOs but they were, in the end, carebears. Living in 0.0 was something they had to do, not something they wanted to do. At the same time x-70mu, the target system for the move, was owned by a shaky alliance. To facilitate the move, Rells negotiated the first blue alliance in AGONY's history. At the time Rells was training empire control 5 to establish his own alliance but Rells really needed the inhabitants of x-70mu to mostly stay off his back while he got his corp back into 0.0. The move commenced, advanced pilots plotted instas and tacticals. Agony scraped together a run of two freighters which contained 90% of the corp and player assets. The freighters docked back in x-70mu and AGONY was once again back in 0.0.
Once in 0.0, AGONY based out of the only kick-out station in the system and warned pilots to spread their gear to other stations. That was a safe warning because the inhabitants of the north took on an instant air of hostility. AGONY's overtures of peace were rebuffed possibly because they set only one blue alliance and believed peace was best established by wiping out everyone else. Alliances and corps offered NAPs one after another but Rells had boiled down diplomacy to a single word, "No". The hostiles swarmed in and AGONY learned how to use a kick-out station to their advantage. Docking in Sisters of Eve Academy was pure suicide. AGONY pilots would log in to hit a kill in the system if necessary and they were quick. Some tried bubbles but met with Flyby snipers for their trouble. AGONY was starting to come back, like a vampire, fueled by blood lust.
All things must come to an end and so did AGONY's first NAP. One corp in the NAPed alliance was especially hostile and some of their members were downright rubes. One day they took it in their head to fire on and destroy an agony pilot while he was still blue to them. The resulting political controversy ended up ripping apart the fragile alliance and the aggressive corp remained, set AGONY red and devoted their existence to wiping out AGONY. AGONY rather enjoyed the fights, taunting the opponent, executing flybys on the bubble camps and otherwise making their life miserable. At one point AGONY managed to catch a freighter in space and pilots appeared out of the woodwork for AGONY to take it down. It didn't take long before the aggressive corp in question was spewing obscenities daily in local. However, there were a few bright spots in the opponent. A pilot named Roccinante was very good at what he did and was pretty respectful. AGONY began to solicit him to drop his corp and come over to the dark side. Another pilot named Beef Hardslab was well regarded as a worthy opponent as well. When the other corp broke up, AGONY acquired Beef and Roc and several other pilots.
In Pure Blind, AGONY acquired skills in using POSes, researching tons of tech 1 BPOs and created a logistical nightmare that was perpetuated by the desire to keep basic equipment on hand for pilots in the corp. The logistics consumed the playtime of many AGONY pilots including Rells and was massively boring as well. However, there were bright spots in the skills department. Flybys had been perfected and AGONY was more often the hunter than the hunted. Beef Hardslab, borrowing on ideas from Heikki (a well known player at the time) invented the modern durka trap and incinerated tons of unwary ships. The hunting was good and so was the fishing. After a while enemy interceptors refused to engage single agony pilots. Also Pure Blind was the heyday of PVP university classes with BASIC, WOLFPACKS and COVOPS beign refined and ADVANCED being invented. AGONY upgraded the Vent server and fielded massive packs of destroyers and frigs. The classes once scorned were filling literally within minutes of announcement. AGONY also began to get into heavier ships and complimented those with extremely well trained skirmishers.
AGONY was well on the way to recovery.
Pure blind was something of an idyllic time for AGONY in the middle of the corp's development. There were targets aplenty as anyone who wanted to traverse into the north needed to either go through pure blind or solidly held and camped alliance space. The alliances really didn't want Pure Blind that much because there was little there for the big crews to exploit. There were few moons of real value and the rats were of mediocre quality. Furthermore the NPC stations meant that it was impractical to dislodge any small corp that wished to take up residence. Sure the alliances had the manpower to infinitely camp the stations but that gets old fast for alliance pilots and since they couldn't take the stations, the area was left pretty much alone to act as a huge combat arena. That suited AGONY just fine.
AGONY became the roaming pack of PVPers that could literally be anywhere in the North at a moment's notice. Ratters learned to straight dock or warp and cloak when a single AGONY came in system. It got to the point that AGONY was occasionally able to fly haulers right through empire chokes without escort because those camping the gates would be fearful, for good reason, of a trap. When they did come after AGONY, the opponents usually preferred to outnumber us 3 or 4 to 1 and then they felt better about it but mostly we managed to avoid serious wipe outs in combat. Our ships were relatively cheap and AGONY pilots had a nose for smelling the 250million isk caracal in the enemy formation. In fact AGONY had to be the king of roamers because people had begun to desert pure blind to escape the raving bunch of maniacs that could not be NAPed and would shoot anything. Even BOB, after a quick foray into pure blind, left to pursue more productive activities after loosing multiple interceptors to fishing and flybys and several battleships to basic classes.
When it came to AGONY's combat development, we finally had the moxy to make a serious attempt at small POS warfare. The operations required a massive amount of battleship firepower at the time. There were no dread pilots in AGONY and dreads themselves were enormously expensive. AGONY under the FC and event leadership of Bamar took out several small POSes after putting them in reinforced. Now the farmers were evacuating Pure Blind as well. About this time NXT Level (Roc and Beef's old corp) got a carrier in trouble off the Sisters of Eve station in x-7omu. Unfortunately we simply didn't have the firepower to break the tank but the carrier pilot was scared out of his mind and Rells poked that fire a bit asking him where his backup from NXT was. It was only a week or two later that the carrier pilot in question dropped NXT and left the area. Rells had counted another psyops coup.
Other developments in AGONY were seriously underway with the implementation of the PVP-ADVANCED class and the refinement of several other classes. The problem with the classes is that they had gotten so long and complicated that it took 12 hours to run them. Clearly this was not sustainable with 2 or 3 people running all of the classes week in and week out. Rells had formed AGONY to get paid for teaching PVP and now he had a bit more than he bargained for. Every week the class would fill in minutes and Rells would end up spending entire weekends at the mic. Some weekends Rells was insane enough to run two classes back to back. However, the classes were the core of the recruitment efforts. Although AGONY didn't recruit actively from the classes unless the pilot was in an NPC corp, many pilots decided on their own that they would like to join. The skills and discipline they were gaining through the classes was paying off in combat and many AGONY players, known today as a feircely lethal pilots, had their humble beginnings learning about tracking and orbiting in PVP-BASIC.
Some class fights were particularly memorable. In one incident a wolfpacks class was jumped by a bait battleship while off gate in x-70mu. The class opened up on the bait but then quickly changed targets when the main fleet came in. EWAR was executed flawlessly and the smaller attacking ships blew like popcorn. When an interdictor warped in to pin us in a bubble, the students seamlessly switched to the interdictor and blew him up less than a second after he hit his bubble launcher. The opposition lost several ships in that fight, some really expesnive HACs and recons worth half a billion isk, and the losses to the class were only a couple of destroyers.
Another fight that was particularly memorable occurred at the end of the first PVP advanced class when the class was headed back to Nonni to break up. A famous pirate named Lord Vodka decided he would attack the fleet with his command ship and a couple of friends while the fleet was in a safe spot. His command ship ended up blasted to pieces and the blinking pirate zipped his pod out to a station to regroup with his friends. The Advanced class warped to a planet to remote rep damage. Shortly after a group of well tanked battleships, all blinking red, jumped the AGONY formation. The pirates knew that usually when they warp into a group in lowsec, the group scatters and they can pick off targets as they wish. Unfortunately for the pirates they hadn't fought the combat psychotic known as Rells and they had no idea that the gang in question was actually a group of students looking for blood. No one scattered and Rells called primary targets. One ship went down and another was being worked on when two falcons showed up on the scene. Rells immediately burned out to the falcons in the company of two rapier pilots. Points were put on one of the falcons and the other ran scared, warping off. Rells was shortly jammed but the damage had been done, rells 5 drones were now eating away at the fragile recon and the two rapiers now had webs and disruptors on the falcon. The falcon fought valiantly but couldn't keep us all jammed and eventually caved to the mass of drones. His friend in the other falcon warped in to try to help him jam off the rest of us but the friend was caught by the rapier and stopped long enough to be the next victim. In the meantime the class had taken out 3 more ships with minimum losses, the blackbirds jamming the snot out of the opponent and the damps and tracks taking their toll. There was one battleship left, it was lord Vodka again in a heavily tanked BS trying to hold off destruction and loose. He was in 20% armor, 10%, 5% and in warps a Nidhoggur carrier to a planet in lowsec. The Nidhoggur caught the battleship with remote reps at half structure and we couldn't defeat the remote reps so we warped off. Of course the Nidhoggur was crazy and would subsequently lose that ship to another crew that had a waiting BS fleet. As we did not, we withdrew.
It was at this time that Sever Aldaria, the default corporate videographer, completed his ground breaking video, the "Agony Phenomenon" and that video showed the magnificent corp that AGONY had become. Any ideas that we were a joke of a corp had been relegated to those in the Eve community that thought "Reason" was a dried fruit you get out of a Sun Maid box. The classes were well regarded and many corps began to require them for membership. It became increasingly harder to get into a class. Although many had threatened to compete with AGONY, anyone who tried realized just how much work it was and abandoned the idea. At this time it started to be known that if you wanted to learn about general aspects of eve and carebearing you went to Eve University but when you wanted to learn combat, you would come to AGONY. We were now the sharp point of the spear in pvp education and tactics thought Eve had begun to change. People abandoned monolithic fleets with huge firepower and started to work on ways of countering those wackos in AGONY. Through a combination of game balance changes and the spread of tactics from the thousands of pilots educated by agony, the sniping battleship was deprecated in favor of much more inventive strategies. Although a great portion of Eve still remains entrenched in firepower, much of eve actually thinks about tactics, traps, deceit and strategy.
The only serious problem in pure blind was that AGONY pilots were outgrowing tech 1 ships of all kinds and even tech 2 frigs. They were reaching a wall whereby they would need much more financial backing to proceed into the next level of ship combat. Furthermore, as invention hadn't been ... well ... invented yet, tech 2 was still enormously expensive. Clearly AGONY pilots needed to spend more time gathering isk than ever before. Some went off to their mission agents and some went off to work on a POS farm in another area of space with alts that couldn't be associated with AGONY. The pilots couldn't do these things while being known as AGONY pilots because that would get their investments wrecked by any number of the organizations we had pissed off up to now. Sure, some organizations respected AGONY's teeth but few actually liked us.
However the money issue couldn't be denied and AGONY started getting spread out in search of isk. Through the stupidity of CCP, making money in empire was significantly more productive than doing so in 0.0 at the time. In fact most of 0.0 was a barren wasteland that was there seemingly to be merely an impediment to travel. Agony pilots kept on their alts in far flung areas of empire to hoard some cash before the next big fight. This was becoming an ever more heavy draw on the combat resources of AGONY and an impediment to growth.
Another problem was that AGONY was becoming too complacent and comfortable for Rells' taste. They had bordered on arrogance in their handling of opponents and that indicated that they needed much more of a challenge. Something to keep what Rells called "the crucible" going. A crucible is a container used for melting metal at thousands of degrees and Rells had always seen the corp as a crucible where the strong, adaptive, intelligent team players were the most likely to survive. With money pressing and the need for more challenge, Rells began to look North to Venal.
Base of operations : 6NJ8-V
As the corp members began to need more and more funding, it was clear that they would have to disperse to their mission agents because the Pure Blind region simply couldn't support the needs of AGONY. As a result people were spread out all over the universe and often logging in just for scheduled gangs and for a quick gank in x-70mu. On top of that many in the corp had become complacent. Pure Blind had mostly cleared out of any serious threat and camping gates that didnt fire for 9 hours straight was not in the nature of AGONY pilots. However another mini-crisis was brewing as well.
In the lead up to Venal, AGONY had recruited heavily and as a result had a large number of potential pilots in the corp that needed a bit of mentoring. All sorts of mistakes were being made that were, in the minds of leadership, stupid at the best. Haulers were jumped into 0.0 without waiting for recon reports, pilots were flying into obvious traps and being popped like pinyatas and the general quality of PvP had been watered down. Although it wasn't exactly the fault of the newer pilots, they needed training is all, but it was also a fault of leadership. Gone were the days when AGONY could simply assimilate new players and hope they picked up living in 0.0 by osmosis. AGONYs policy of recruiting newbie players (which in the long run turn out to be some of the best) contributed to the problem.
There was a third and ultimately more devastating problem pending. At this time AGONY was trying to keep corp hangers full of tech 1 gear, frigs and destroyers and some cruisers for members to use. One problem that was that some people were appropriating ships from the hangars and then tossing them away in stupid maneuvers because they didn't have any vested interest in the ships themselves. This is a natural byproduct of being given things, people tend to value those things less. Combined with the increase in pilots, logistics had become a daily 6 hour job for about 10 people in the corp including Rells. Life was consisting of logging in and replacing things in hangars, starting jobs getting the over 200 blueprints researched and then logging out tired and unhappy from having done no killing. AGONY for many in logistics had become a job, not a game. Many logistics people drifted off to other corps and the load was increased to the point of ridiculous. At one point Rells tracked that he had been spending 52 hours in one week doing logistics and hadn't run a gang in weeks.
Clearly this was an unsustainable situation and so Rells began to look for ways to make corp members more independent and fatten their wallets. he reasoned that if they had more money they would be more likely to buy thier own ship or module rather than wait for someone to fill the gap in inventory. Rells also hoped that making the pilots richer would give more desire to stay in 0.0 space and not be transient 0.0 arena folks. A move was in the planning with leadership and Venal was the target. It was rich, it was far into 0.0 space which discouraged transient pilots, it was hostile giving players more challenge and it had NPC stations, essential for a corp without the moxy to hold space.
The move to Venal was received with lukewarm reception at best which really surprised Rells. Rells attributed this to apathy and the obvious challenge that pure blind meant and pushed forward eager to create a crucible once more. He didn't want the pilots happy and comfortable but rather fat with isk and raving maniacs with bloodlust. After some convincing carrier flights began to hop gear up to the Sisters of Eve station in 6NJ8-V, Venal. Pilots began to filter up to the new home base and get the lay of the land. It was a tense time in AGONY. Many felt that Rells had made an awful mistake and some thought he was being outright pretentious and arrogant but most of AGONY persevered. The locals, however, were not amused.
Phalanx alliance had held that space with tacit approval from their friends for as long as they could remember. They were not happy with their new co-habitant and less with the flippant attitude the new corp seemed to have towards diplomacy. Dimplomatic efforts were rebuffed with "no, we don't want a NAP." Furthermore, threats to crush AGONY just seemed to make the CEO chuckle and say, "Bring it on." Rells was far to concerned with internal strife to care one whiff about Phalanx Alliance and their posturing. Phalanx did try to make good on their threat to destroy agony and tied to enlist their allies in the process. Now began the Phalanx Alliance campaign which had something of a bittersweet ending.
Phalanx was aggressive but not too bright. Many agony tactics worked beautifully on them. In one event Beef Hardslab managed to kill several interceptors returning from a fight with only the help of Rells' interdictor. The smartbombs did the trick. AGONY was anywhere and everywhere. Station camps were treated with flybys and other demoralizing tactics. On top of that psyops was in full force. Rells had become a bit bummed about the reception to the Venal move and had resolved to take out his anger on Phalanx alliance. Rells left a number of clues to Phalanx which indicated that their closest ally had actually hired AGONY to get rid of Phalanx so that the ally could have the system. Rells refused to confirm the allegations saying that he could not discuss the business of AGONY with their clients. The resonances had been set up and now just needed to be nurtured and they would rupture Phalanx. Rells then ordered pilots to not attack their supposed client if Phalanx was present or to allow the other alliance to escape from fights. Intel from Phalanx began to report these things and an earthquake built up in phalanx. Under the combined pressure of killing Phalanx peaceful ratters and interrupting their lucrative one jump trade missions, Phalanx began to crack. Obscenities began to be common in space and AGONY delighted in getting them muted by devs for obscenities not necessarily because they cared about the obscenity (agony were all adults after all) but because it pestered Phalanx and Phalanx earned it with their mouth. Phalanx were bad sports, horrible at pvp in numbers less than 30 and couldn't take the pressure. Corps began to peel off phalanx, they cancelled their NAP with other alliances and the breakup had begun.
However, at the same time AGONY had its own problems to deal with. For one thing, the European players were under far more pressure than the American ones and it was far too late before Rells realized the enormity of the problem and many euros unfortunately took that as a sign of indifference. Rells actually didn't understand until he took a day off work to see what the problem was. Phalanx had the euros camped in a lot and it was much tougher to implement the guerrilla war that was the hallmark of AGONY during that time frame. Rells, finally realizing the problem started to advise ways of countering it and stepped up his psyops that he was hopeful was about to crack phalanx in half, relieving the pressure on the euros. Unfortunately it wasn't enough and Rells felt he had let down his euro players. But his next mistake would be one that would almost kill AGONY.
The AGONY directors had met and decided that PVP-BASIC and WOLFPACKS wasn't enough, that there needed to be more formalizzed training beyond that. Venal had exposed the weakness in training in some pilots and the leadership wanted to plug these holes. As a group they decided to introduce certifications and military rank (which had up to then been honorary) and to require certifications for rank. Furthermore they reasoned the seasoned experts in AGONY would quickly run their certs back to the requirements of their rank. It seemed fair at the time to require everyone have the same qualifications to reach a rank and all of the leadership agreed to set an example by knocking out the certs they needed themselves. Rells brought the new ranking system to the membership and the reaction was entirely unexpected.
Long time players, friends of Rells, were extremely angry at the rank reset and the certification requirements. They didn't feel they needed to justify their ranks and were pissed at being asked to do so. Many apparently felt it a betrayal of trust which was certainly not the intention of Rells or anyone else in the corp leadership. Several people immediately announced they were leaving and Rells was the lightning rod of their ire. Rells hadn't anticipated this reaction but rather thought people would be happy to have a formal rank structure. The anger completely caught him off guard and depressed him. Between the combination of the move to Venal and the cert system, long time friends had decided they didnt want to be part of AGONY anymore and Rells hated every leaving thread. Leaving threads snowballed and gained momentum and soon a large contingent was leaving and a large contingent was just as intent on staying. A civil war had erupted in AGONY.
One hazard of being a CEO is that people sometimes forget you are a real person. Rells was crushed at what was happening to the corp and didn't know how to fix it. Furthermore, long time friends of Rells that he had flown with for 2 or more years had started to issue epithets, and accusations that were incredibly hurtful. Rells passed it off as anger and frustration but in reality few knew that Rells was a basket case, depressed and upset on a daily basis. Twice Rells offered his resignation to be rejected and talked down by leadership. It got to the point where many of the ex agony pilots were not only being extremely nasty to their former CEO, but they were doing it very publicly. Rells didn't give a damn what strangers though of him, only people he cared for could hurt him and some of them did. He knew that they had some valid points and some legit complaints but when the insults and nastiness came out, Rells just disconnected and went into something of a zombie mode.
The exodus had started to subside and AGONY was in a bit of a state of shock. Like a boxer stunned by a right hook, AGONY was on the floor and struggling to get up. Rells was in much worse condition having canceled and reactivated his account seven times in a month. However, things began to stabilize because of the resilience of the pilots and the fact that the rest of the AGONY leadership handled it far better than Rells. Phalanx, for their part coincidentally decided they wanted to evict AGONY for good and set up bubbles on the station and kept them there for days, manned 24 hours a day. The USA agony players were able to harass them and even get them to blow up their own bubbles on a number of occasions when no one in their corp could unanchor. However, the euros had a much harder time of it with fleets of 50 often in the system. Rells had made the mistake of not requiring enough diversification of where equipment should be put in several stations and even systems to allow options in the case of camping. Ultimately Phalanx ended up ending their own siege and giving up on driving AGONY out but at the same time AGONY was in a horrible state of affairs with a lot of animosity on both sides, the decision was made to withdraw agony first to h-pa and then back to pure blind. Coming back felt bad, as if AGONY had been defeated for the first time. The corp was in a bad state and Rells had just about had enough of Eve.
Pure Blind II
Date: April 08 to Nov 08
Base of operations : X-7OMU
Back in Pure Blind, AGONY began to recover some of its strength and added some new memberships. Dozens of posts that had exchanged nasty comments from both sides, Rells included among the transgressors, were moved to archive to facilitate the rebuilding and prevent recruits from seeing the carnage. Agony began to prosper again after a while but Rells had faded from the game for the most part, often not logging in for weeks at a time. It was time for new leadership of AGONY and it wasn't long after that when Rells finalized his resignation nominating Bamar as his successor, started to look at other games and having bad luck in them, quit MMOs for over a year. The corp that Rells had founded so that he could PvP without ever having to rat or mine again, was now honestly better off in other leadership and Rells was officially burned out on eve.
However, AGONY began to take new directions. Bamar, began to put his own imprint upon the corp and the corp began to recover a lot of its former glory. Not too long after, Bamar would reverse out the horrible mistake of the certs and move the corp in his own direction and it has prospered under Bamar possibly more than it ever did or could have under Rells.
So ends my personal recorded history of AGONY. Naturally it is recorded from my own point of view and others had different impressions of certain incidents. However, perhaps for the first time, some may know my view of things. Writing this has been an emotional experience.
Today the pilots of AGONY are known Eve-wide as being lethal and innovative and under fantastic leadership with fantastic people staffing the fleets. Bigger organizations than AGONY have a healthy respect for the pilots of AGONY and you can see it in how they try and fight you. I hope that I had some part in starting the ride but it is for all of you, every one of you, to take that history, that fight for survival, that wonderful coalescence of tactics and keep the name high and honored among the corps of eve. In AGONY's beginning no one knew who AGONY was -- and many that were known before, are lost to be forgotten by history but AGONY remains. Now few dont know AGONY.
Date: Nov 08 to Feb 09
Base of operations : Hemin
As the Great War reached its peak, the whole north began to NAP against Band of Brothers (the core of this would remain NAPed long after the war ended as the Northern Coalition), and the majority of PvP pilots flocked to the front lines in the south. This left the north, including Agony’s long time home of Pure Blind, a very quiet place. It was time for a ‘vacation’.
Our destination was Curse, in the south. Like Syndicate, Curse is a heavily stationed region, and thus a popular area for smaller non-sov holding factions who are typically hostile to each other. It was also close enough to the main fighting that it was still well populated.
Agony made its home in Hemin, a pipe system close to empire, making it excellent for bubble camping and bringing the targets to us, which indeed became a common and very successful tactic for Agony gangs during this deployment. The initial period in particular, before Agony had tamed the system, saw great deal of action right on our doorstep. At the time of this writing (roughly a year later) Hemin remains one of Agony’s most destructive systems in history.
This deployment also saw an incident which is forever ingrained in Agony history as ‘Speedy’s balls’, during which a drunken Executive Outcomes carrier pilot hotdropped a small Agony sub-capital camp (back in the days when a carrier kill was kind of a big deal!) and was gradually torn apart, accompanied by vent recordings and all.
Agony's Curse deployment culminated in our entry in the 6th Alliance Tournament, in which Agony succesfully made the final 8 teams.
Date: Feb 09 to June 09
Base of operations : 6NJ8-V
Tactial Developments: Partial move from localised camping and ad-hoc to more structured, longer range roaming gangs. Larger ship classes (especially Cruisers & BCs) are now the norm in Agony roams.
Following the Alliance Tournament, Agony’s Curse deployment came to an end. With wallets running low, many members found their PvP time reduced by the need to earn isk. To counteract this, a plan was made to spend a short time, perhaps a month or so, on some hardcore isk making ready for a more challenging deployment afterwards.
Venal seemed the perfect choice for such a venture. While still NPC space, Venal is deep into 0.0 and is considered quite a profitable region, with excellent ratting territory. It was also an old haunt of Agony, with Venal I often being considered one of Agony’s best deployments. Intel reported that the region was very quiet at the time, and the decision was made.
What made Venal an interesting deployment was primarily the distance from high sec space, and the bearing of this upon logistics operations. Unlike most of our deployments, Venal as a region does not border empire space. Conventional travel requires around 25 jumps through Pure Blind and Tribute, and even carriers cannot reach Venal in a single cyno jump.
Thankfully, Agony’s Pure Blind base in X-70MU was still maintained and relatively quiet, so the move was split into two phases; firstly a move to Pure Blind, followed by the final move to Venal. Due to the difficulty of the move, as well as the intended length of stay, ship transport was minimal, and mainly geared towards ratting.
They say that no plan survives contact with the enemy, and this is exactly how things went. Upon arriving in 6NJ8-V, the same HQ Agony had used during our previous stay in the region, things were not so quiet after all. Our PvP habit rapidly replaced any intention to carebear, and Agony did what Agony does best - pewpew!
Notable opponents during this stay were Circle of Two (a relatively minor alliance in the Northern Coalition who would later come to unexpected fame as runners up in the 7th Alliance Tournament), Tau Ceti Federation (also NC, these guys moved right into 6NJ with us near the end of the deployment) and Morsus Mihi (that’s right, more NC) in Tribute to the south.
In the end, Venal II lasted far longer than originally intended, and while it didn’t succeed in its original purpose as an isk raising venture, it did provide an interesting logistical challenge, and a limited amount of action with good a good environment for medium to long roams. Inevitably though, greener pastures soon began to beckon, and as rumours began to spread of a potentially interesting situation in Great Wildlands, it was time to pack up and move back to Pure Blind ready for our next deployment.
Great Wildlands II
Date: June 09 to October 09
Base of operations : N-DQ0D
Tactial Developments: Early GW - Experimenting with the use of POS, and living in a highly hostile environment. Late GW - More focus on solo and smaller gang, due to low activity; smaller ships such as AF become increasingly popular again.
During the end of Agony’s stay in Venal, Great Wildlands had become a highly contested region due to the collapse of Foundation Alliance, who had previously controlled the area. After the relative quiet of Venal, it was hoped that a warzone like this would provide the kind of interesting tactical challenges that we were looking for.
As it happened, we faced an entirely different set of challenges. By the time Agony finally deployed to Great Wildlands (via a short stay in Pure Blind), fighting in the region had ceased and the area was firmly in the grip of Cult of War, who had NAPed most other factions in the region (the most notable groups being Gentlemen’s Club and YARR & Co). Rote Kapelle remained neutral and occasionally roamed in from nearby lowsec, but the region was otherwise completely NAPed.
Our choice of system was N-D, the least populous of the three station systems in Gread Wildlands (the majority of CoW based out of the nearby systems of E02-IK and M-MD3B, which acted as a chokepoint to all of southern GW). This left us with relatively free reign of the northernmost pipes such as the one to Etherium Reach, but effectively cut off from most of the southern Wildlands.
Due to the station being kickout, we initially staged from a POS. This served the dual purpose of facilitating logistics and provoking a response from CoW.
Initial operations began as expected. A number of CoW regulars kept the N-D station camped pretty much around the clock, usually with capital support. Roaming gangs encountered some success, but targets in Wildlands were sparse, and CoW & friends were quick to use their numbers advantage in most fights, with most trips into southern Wildlands being swiftly camped into the pipe once they passed the CoW home systems. Thus Etherium Reach to the north became the preferred destination.
Before long, CoW began to take an interest in the POS. Initial attacks were mainly casual, and were repelled with a combination of POS gunners and bombing runs. Eventually CoW committed to a more organised assault as expected and put the POS into reinforced. Word was spread discreetly to a few of CoW’s enemies, and when the CoW cap fleet entered siege the following day, they were annihilated by a hotdrop from Pandemic Legion. CoW ultimately returned to remove the POS with a cautious sub-capital fleet, but by this point the damage was done.
Shortly afterwards, corp focus switched to the 7th Alliance Tournament. Despite an excellent showing behind the scenes and an excellent first round, we suffered a significant loss in the second round and were unable to qualify for the finals.
Due to a combination of factors, most notably the tournament, Agony activity in Wildlands had gradually died. Most of the corp had moved to lowsec, and gangs generally ignored Wildlands in favour of Etherium Reach. Morale and participation were at a significant low, as was combat efficiency, leading to GW commonly being considered as one of Agony's darker times. Rather than rebuild our Wildlands 0.0 presence, the corp chose to look forwards, with a number of options considered for our future direction including faction warfare and mercenary work. Ultimately though it was backwards, not forwards, that we chose to head.
Syndicate II and Agony 0.0
Date: October 09 to March 2010
Base of operations : EZA-FM
Tactical Devlelopments: Bombers become very popular in the corp, leading to some of Agony's first successful blackops drops as well as co-ordinated bombing tactica. Some move back towards short range roams and localised camping, with HSSR fleets becoming very popular, as well as the re-introduction of HSLR and some (mainly unsuccessful) experimentation with RR battleships.
Syndicate is considered the birthplace of Old Agony, and in many ways this deployment was intended as a return to those roots in order to re-strengthen the corp.
Geographically, Syndicate couldn’t be more different to Great Wildlands. A heavily stationed region, Syndicate has historically been a hotbed for small unaligned factions - a huge change to the quasi-sov situation in Wildlands at the time. It also differs in its lack of pipes, with most routes (other than the pipe between upper and lower Syndicate) having multiple viable paths.
Agony made its new home in EZA-FM southern Syndicate. While not really an obvious through-system to anywhere, EZA is central enough to have numerous entrance and exit routes (and isn’t in a pocket), giving the corp a great deal of maneuvreability. Our most significant neighbours were the very large IT Alliance (mainly ex-Band of Brothers) just one system away in 6-C and Reblier (some of whom later based out of EZA) and long-time Syndicate residents Huzzah Federation in the nearby PC9 pocket. (After the Dominion expansion, most of IT Alliance moved on to sov warfare, and Huzzah ultimately disbanded, with numerous smaller factions moving in in their wakes).
During this time, Agony also underwent a significant internal change – the replacement of the complex Agony 2.0 philosophy for the more streamlined Agony 0.0.
The guiding ethos of the change was to focus on PvP rather than beurocracy. Under Agony 0.0, the complex military ranks were removed in exchange for a flat structure, with all Core members (other than directors) sharing equal responsibility. Many internal admin processes were simplified and/or delegated, most notably recruitment and trial periods, which underwent a complete rework. Agony’s previously rigid Code of Conduct and Rules of Engagement were also modified in favour of a more simplified ‘common sense’ system.
Syndicate proved to be far more suited to small gang and solo PvP than Wildlands had been, with activity, morale and effectiveness quickly rising to pre-Wildlands levels, and then beyond. An influx of new members and the return of many old ones breathed further life into the corp, and Agony began to flourish once again. Tactical development (inspired partly by our unused preparation work on the tourney) was once more a part of Agony life, initially with regular HSLR and HSSR and bomber gangs, and expanding to include RR battleships, Black Ops drops and Titan bridging.
Other incidents of note include Agony being wardecced by long time Syndicate residents and local gankers Exquisite Malevolence, who proceeded to get their POS network torn down by Agony within the first few days of the war, and Agony's first Mothership kill courtesy of No Trademark.
Date: March 2010 to Dec 2010
Base of operations : H6-CX8
Tactical Development: First real encounter with Sovereignty. Prolification of logistics, including Agony's first forays into the use of the triage carrier. Blackops drops and Durka battleships become (or re-become) hallmark Agony tactics, with innovation on both. ArmourHAC gangs and later Drake swarms become flavour of the month throughout Eve, with Agony deploying both to great effect. Later parts of the stay saw Agony participating in and leading very large CTA fleets or operating as a subsidary 'ace in the sleeve' for these fleets, such as an autonomous bomber or ewar wing.
In early 2010, Against All Authorities fell out with the long-time resident of Providence, CVA (and their various allies) and decided to remove them from the region. CVA had long held the region as an NRDS carebear's paradise, and had populated it with a huge number of outposts. However, the space itself was almost worthless in terms of moon income, and there had been little incentive for anyone to remove them.
AAA approached Agony, along with a small number of other alliances, with the offer of a constellation in Providence with no strings attached - for AAA's part it gave them a non-sov-threatening neighbour on their border, as well as a target rich environment for PVP. For Agony, it gave the same target rich environment, as well as an opportunity to experiment with sovereignty without needing to get involved in the politics of 0.0 bloc warfare.
CVA was removed fairly swiftly, and Agony moved in as one of the first Providence residents into the constellation around H6-CX8, a pipe constellation close to Providence's main highsec entrance, and a great location for targets. Neighbouring 9UY (the hub connecting all the pipes of Providence) became the home of Ushra'Khan, with the highsec border system of Y-M going to Atlas Alliance, providing significant numbers of targets on both sides.
Other noteable initial residents included Paxton Federation (an old CVA ally who was initially kept in out of respect for their will to fight, but later removed when they attempted to help CVA reclaim the space), Daisho Syndicate, Sodalitas XX, and Opticon Alliance (who were removed from the region after a misguided betrayal attempt). Later additions include Important Internet Spaceship League and Flying Dangerous (both friends of Agony from Syndicate, with similar modus operandi to our own), Circle of Two (who we earlier fought in Venal II), Shock and Awe, Legio Astartes Arcanum, and the well known mercenary corp Noir who used a constellation primarily for renters. In addition to these, a great number of non-resident corps would roam into Providence for it's rich PVP environment, including Genos Occidere (for a time part of Hydra Reloaded), AAA and AAA Citizens, Initiative, and many others.
Intially many of the Providence residents were relucant to un-blue either other after the invation, with Agony being the first to do so by a considerable period. Early in Providence Agony mostly stayed out of regional politics, but over time a lack of competent regional leadership, combined with Agony leading the way in PvP tactics and organization, caused Agony to end up at the center of political developments.
This period also included Agony's first (assisted) Titan kill, and a period of rapid tactical development, with many new tactics becoming commonplace in additon to an increasing (and increasingly expensive) range of ships at our disposal. Of particular note, ArmourHAC gangs (low-sig afterburning armour tanked HACs and guardians, especially Zealots) became incredibly popular throughout Eve, and Agony fielded them with much success.
Due to the Sov nature of Providence as a region, this deployment was not without it's drama. Providence alliances would rattle their sovereignty sabres from time to time, and a number of Provi resident alliances collapsed (either effectively or entirely) during this period, leaving the membership and power-balance of Provi in almost constant flux.
The biggest shakeup occurred when first Atlas and then Against ALL Authorities, both of whom had been major players in the taking of Providence, all but collapsed under attack from a number of alliances supported by Pandemic Legion. With the big boys gone, alliances within Provi began jostling for the leadership role, sparking a confrontation between Daisho and Ushra'Khan which saw Provi split into two warring factions in what became known as the 'Providence Civil War'. Agony, along with a number of other neutral alliances opted to stand by the initial agreement of non-invasion, and defend any alliance whose space was under attack - as the weaker of the two parties by a significant margin, this meant Ushra'Khan. Unable to gain any ground against the rest of Providence, Daisho soon began to back down and negotiate peace. However by this point eyes were on Providence from elsewhere, and in its fractured state it looked like a juicy target.
The first to invade Providence was CVA, the previous residents who had retained much of their strength. All of Providence was soon blue-ed up for defence and CTA fleets of a few hundred a side became the norm, to the disappointment of many Agony pilots. While CVA was able to match or often surpass Provi numbers in Euro timezone, their number in US timezone were almost non-exitant, and the CVA push quickly stalled. However for whatever reason, a number of Provi alliances in the area managed to drop their sov, and CVA pounced on every opportunity, quickly securing themselves a handful of systems in southern Provi without having to fight through the timers. Due to Provi's lower numbers in Euro timezone and the significant defender advantage in Dominion sov mechanics, both sides were now unable to make significant inroads, and the war stagnated.
After being evicted from Could Ring, the German alliance Ev0ke set their sites on northern Provi, as far from the CVA war as possible and the site of Provi's effectively largest alliance (Daisho had been fairly inactive since the civil war) - Sodalitas XX. With much of provi on the verge of collapse, it fell to Agony to hold the region together with Bamar assuming the leadership role of the coalition. Gradually, Provi began to form a cohesive fighting force. However Ev0ke were a strong and co-ordinated opponent, and this too became a timezone war with very little territorial change on either side.
This war dragged on for months, with many in Agony tiring of the situation. The tipping point came when Ev0ke managed to bring in their friends from 'NC.' (formerly Triumvirate), eliminating Provi's US advantage. At this point, the majority of Provi quickly fell apart, with a number of alliances either collapsing or leaving. Agony morale and participation were beginning to suffer, and after much internal deliberation, Agony decided it was no longer worth trying to hold the region together. In the space of two days, agony's entire membership and asset base had been relocated to Curse. Agony's sov adventures were over - we were back in NPC 0.0, but far stronger for our experiences.
Curse II & Dingleberry
Date: Dec 2010 to Jeb 2011
Base of operations : Hemin, Anchauttes
After moving out of Providence, Agony temporarily relocated to nearby Curse, returning to our old stomping grounds of Hemin. This proved to be a very active region, with locals such as Outbreak and Aggravated Assault providing many a good fight. With sov conflict ongoing in Providence and activity in Catch (both or which are accessed via Curse), there were also numerous large gangs rolling through from groups such as The Initiative.
While the availability of targets in Curse was excellent, some members weren't happy with the more casual PVP it offered after getting a taste for the more objective-based PVP in the latter days of Providence. Because of that, Agony leadership started looking for alternatives. Technetium was (and may when you read this, still be) incredibly profitable, and we couldn't help but notice a large number of lowsec tech moons owned by alliances in the Northern Coalition which were a long long way from their nullsec base of operations. In the name of good fights and piles of isk, Agony set off for Placid lowsec. The codename, due to
We picked a tower owned by RAGE, one of the less known NC alliances who were based out of Geminate - about as far away as NC territory got from Placid. Agony managed to knock the tower into reinforced without issue, but as expected the NC unleashed the kitchen sink when the tower came out (apparently someone told them we were working with Pandemic Legion?), and we didn't get a fight. This continued a few times, and while numbers dropped they never reaches a level that Agony's fleet could realistically engage. While lowsec was quiet between operations, nearby Fidelas Constans space in Pure Blind provided us with good hunting grounds (at least at first).
Not long into the campaign, war broke out in Geminate between the NC and the Drone Russian Federation (DRF). While it remained stagnant at first, this was what would later grow to become the Great Northern War, culminating in the collapse of the NC and the dominance of the DRF over sovereignty nullsec. For now though, it was just enough to distract RAGE from defending their lowsec POSes - the tech moon was ours, although once again we didn't get a fight out of it.
Date: Feb 2011 to May 2011
Base of operations : K3JR-J
While technically a success, dingleberry hasn't gone as we'd hoped. Taking on larger alliances alone was evidently not something we could do under the current game mechanics - at least if we wanted a good fight out of it. Thankfully, one of our members had caught wind of some interesting developments up in Venal (a region buried deep in the NC heartland). It turns out an alliance called Merciless with a similar philosophy to Agony was up there harassing the NC, doing a very similar thing to us and getting some very good fights out of it. After flying with them a couple of times, we were convinced - the move to Venal was on.
At first, things were good. Agony and Merciless along with a few other allies successfully tore up NC space, getting some great fights and some moons to top it off. It was also an excellent location for roaming into the deep NC ratting territories. It was so good in fact, that other groups started moving up to do the same thing - before we knew it, we had a mini coalition of blues, with Merciless at the helm. In Pure Blind, Evoke and NCdot began doing a similar thing, and soon it was a somewhat larger coalition, with NCdot leading the show and Merciless (and thus Agony) along for the ride. Then, we started seeing DRF and Pandemic Legion fleets too, with temporary blue standings for joint ops. Without ever really intending it, Agony had become a small part in the largest offensive coalition that Eve has ever seen - we'd gone from an apolitical entity to fighting on one side of the Great Northern War and contributing (a very tiny part) to the downfall of the Northern Coalition, long considered to be the one of most powerful blocs in nullsec.
The rest, as they say, is history. As the DRF advanced into tribute, the NC was broken. Suddenly Agony found ourselves with a host of blues and nobody around to fight (and the fights we did get, were mainly grinding sov and stations for NCdot). In retrospect we should have realised it sooner, but by this point we were unanimous - it was time to make our farewells and go our own way.
Pure Blind III
Date: June 2011 to July 2011
Base of operations : J-CIJV
With the NC still evaccing from its former home, it was too good an opportunity to simply leave the area. A short jump to J-C in Pure Blind put Agony far enough from our former allies to do our own thing, while remaining right in the path of the NC evacuation from the North. At the same time, Evoke and Raiden (both large alliances involved in the campaign against the NC) were staging in Pure Blind for their move in to the North, so there was plenty of activity in the nearby systems.
During this time Agony also rediscovered our love for roaming, with trips into Fade, Cloud Ring and even Syndicate becoming regular. There were also plenty of fights to be had with our former blues, many of whom were now living in a fairly target-starved environment.
Ultimately, targets in Pure Blind dried up as each of the NC alliances collapsed or successfully moved out, and the new residents got bored and moved on to areas where fighting was still to be had. After the great success we'd had with our roams into Syndicate, our next move was an easy one. Agony was going home!
Date: August 2011 onwards
Base of operations : 31-MLU
Agony has always considered Syndicate something of an ancestral home - it's somewhere we've historically gone to recuperate, and to refocus on the small gang PVP that forms our bread and butter. Having tired of sov grinding and flying as peons in larger fleets, it was the natural destination. To keep our roaming options open, we opted to move into northern Syndicate rather than our former home system of EZA, giving us easy access to both Cloud Ring and Fountain.
I'll let you know how it goes!