Anatomy of a Home Defence Fleet
The other night I finally found some time to get online. I jumped from highsec to my nullsec no-implant clone in cloud ring, intent on finding some pew in my new raptors. Logged onto Teamspeak only to find that most of the corp in cloud ring (about 5 or 6 people) were busy finishing off a large npc complex 6 jumps away from our home system.
I literally have no PVE ships in nullsec. This is something that I’ve thought about fixing, but never gotten around to it.
Here’s my current hanger in cloud ring. As you can see, Drake, Falcon, Buzzard, Onyx, 4 raptors, 3 manticores, viator, occator. I would love to have a spare Onyx, but I don’t seem to die all that often when not on the front line. my Delve hanger has quite a few redundant ships.
So to contribute to the corp, I jumped in my Buzzard covert ops and headed out to scout for the returning pve fleet. Almost immediately we got a report of a neutral showing up in the system adjacent to our home system of 9-4. Great! usually one neutral is not cause for a home defense fleet mobilization, so I sat at my safe spot above the G8AD gate to get a visual on the neutral. Shortly after the intitial report, another report came through that the neutral fleet had increased to 6 people. The person reporting had no visual on the fleet. 5 neuts is something that warrants a small home defense response.
The returning pve ships docked up and changed into combat ships. Then the first neut then jumped through into our home system – he held cloak for a good 20 seconds and then warped to the station. I reported him as a harbinger. The assumption then would be that a 5 man gang of armor tanked battle cruisers, maybe some smaller tackle included would be following.
One of our HIC’s undocked in his broadsword and sat there, taking fire from the harbinger to keep him interested while the rest of our corp got their ships ready. at this point our alliance members in cloud ring were spread out in various systems around the place, but we were all listening to the intel happening from these two systems. Finally the rest of the harbi’s gang jumped in and I reported the surprising result: Scimitar, Drake, Drake, Hurricane, Tempest. eh? what kind of fleet was this? three shield BC’s, one shield BS and one armor BC with a shield logi?
Clearly the initial Harbi was their bait ship and possibly their FC. We knew that we could keep eyes on them with impunity (possibly the cane was an insta-cane, but still unlikely to catch a covert ops) so we were patient and stayed docked up for the moment. I kept eyes on them from my Buzzard. They must have become bored as they warped to the FQ9 gate. It was clear that they were going to do the complete circle around cloud ring.
A corp stealth bomber undocked and volunteered to follow them down the pipe. by this time we had people jump-cloning back from delve (no ops going on this evening), the rest of the alliance had joined our standing fleet and an FC volunteered to lead. Because there was only 6 or 7 of us at the start, we determined fleet composition by consensus and what we could fly.
The trick was we didn’t know what the harbi was fitted with, and clearly the Scimi would be a problem. Logistics ships are force multipliers, causing the opposing fleet to have far more dps to break the tank of the ships being repaired or to focus first on the scimi. We knew also that the harbi and the tempest would have either a huge tank or some ewar in the middle combined with a large alpha strike against battleships.
So options for us were immediately rejected such as battleships (not many of us have them anyway) also, not many expensive pvp ships are kept in cloud ring as we’re all supposed to be deployed to delve, so no tengus. the odds were too even to bring expensive things anyway.
However… thank CCP for their sand-box options: you know what else is a force multiplier?
Falcons are one of my favorite ships. One of my first losses in nullsec was a falcon:
Back when I was flying them then, they could easily perma-jam anything, ECCM’s were not very effective and falcons could jam out to 150km and had a little bit of a tank. in small gang pvp, they were THE force multiplier to have. CCP has nerfed their range and tank somewhat and so now my optimal range is 57km. meaning that they can be within range of average long-range guns. still, guns only work if you can lock your target. So whereas they used to be “OMFG it’s a falcon! – Game over man! Game over!!!!” They are now an “oh crap a falcon. Falcon is primary, falcon is primary”.
We brought two.
With the neut gang being composed the way it was, there was no need for us to have fast tackle. we already had one falcon, so instead of getting out in my raptor I told the FC “I can bring a second Falcon or a HIC” Someone else volunteered their Broadsword and so I jumped in Steve, my falcon.
Doesn’t really matter what else we brought. There was no chance anything except the cane was going to get a lock, and it would be unlikely that the cane would have the range to hit a falcon even if it was insta-fit. We brought a smattering of battlecruisers and a HIC
By this time the hostile fleet had moved on two systems down the pipe with our dutiful covops pilot following them with impunity. It was funny to listen to as they were clearly being very cautious, with their Harbi going in first and waiting, then the rest of the fleet would jump in. perhaps they were trying to catch our stealth bomber pilot. in anycase, it gave us heaps of time. now, clearly, jumping into them on a gate wasn’t a great idea – our falcons need to be at range. Time to use our home advantage: Jump bridges.
We took our jump bridge and had enough time to get on the appropriate gate and waited for the inevitable harbi to come through. Falcons got at optimal range, everyone else was on gate and we waited. I cloaked up and got the following from the other falcon pilot in fleet chat:
[ 2012.08.02 13:03:14 ] Fleet Member > akura
[ 2012.08.02 13:03:16 ] Fleet Member > where did you go?
[ 2012.08.02 13:03:21 ] Akura Kawanaka > I cloaked
[ 2012.08.02 13:03:33 ] Fleet Member > you sexy bastard
Shortly thereafter he cloaked also….. I think he may not have flown a falcon very often or something. but yes… I am a sexy bastard. you should see me when I’m uncloaking.
Sir Yiffles from “Ninja Unicorns with Huge Horns” jumped in. Falcons were cloaked, we didn’t have a logistics ship and he must have thought that they had a chance. Their scimitar jumped in and Yiffles decloaked. We falcons uncloaked and locked them both up. Scimitar made the wise decision to gate-crash and managed to make it back to the gate in time, but mr Yiffles died.
shield tanked tackle harbi? ok I guess…?
By this time we had more people becomming interested in the fight – alliance members jumping back from delve – people listening on TS or on Jabber logged in and joined the fight – our little fleet swelled to 20 people and 4 falcons. The neuts brought a known hot-dropping recon pilot to get eyes on us. This gave us a clue – because we knew where he came from (lowsec Placid region) we had a good idea of where these neutrals were heading. We took another jump bridge to head-them off and sent our now multiple covops/stealth bombers into in-between systems to get eyes/probes on them wherever they went.
At this point, there was no way the remaining neuts could escape unscathed. Their only two options were to escalate to cynoing a larger fleet on top of us, or attempt a rush through and accept the losses. After a little bit of back and forth, they decided that the only winning move was not to play. They logged off. we couldn’t get a scan on them in the 60 seconds or whatever it is before their ships disappeared from our scanners. victory for us I guess.
At this point there was another roaming gang moving through fountain – we combined with a TEST fleet and went to head them off. It was late for me so I went to bed. but not before taking a shot of a caldari navy firetail:
All in a days work in nullsec