A call for a stratop went out: Alpha fleet with the usual smattering of dics/hics and intys. I had just used my clone jump timer to jump from deklein to Cloud ring for a corporate op when the ping came over jabber. I’ve been wanting to try my new raptor out for a while now and so I burned from CR to our staging point in Deklein to get there just in time to form up on the titan. I’m feeling fairly small at this point, I’ve pretty much never been in a large fleet in anything smaller than a cruiser before.
The FC did something different though: he called for instacanes. we ended up with about 5 or 6 of them in fleet, which I thought was weird.
The fleet seemed to be in no rush. but when it happened it happened fast. The FC told us to set our destinations for GIH-ZG, then told the idiots who started warping there to stop it and get back on the titan. The titan opened the bridge and we found ourselves two systems from our destination. The FC told us to individually burn as fast as we could into GIH and then warp to a fleet member at a friendly POS. It turned out that this was all done due to systems surrounding our destination were cyno-jammed and because there was an enemy bomber/recon fleet inbetween us and our target system. going on the safety in numbers principal, we only lost one battleship out of the 180+ fleet getting into the system.
Once we were in there and in the safe POS, we warped to a hostile POS that was comming out of reinforced mode in 3 minutes. Now, the counter to a blob of battleships has always been coordinated stealth bomber runs. This plays havoc with the logistics and if done right can destroy the fleet before the logis can rep everyone. However, a bombing run must have a target, and a battleship fleet is only vulnerable if they form up like this:
And so the FC wisely chose to spread us out. He anchored himself, told everyone else to spread out to 30km and had his HIC bubble up on his ship. This would make getting warpins for bombing runs quite tricky as any direct line of warp would cause the bomber fleet to be dragged into the bubble and it would be very difficult to point in the right direction and target before being killed:
So we waited for it to come out of reinforced and the alpha fleet shot it down. I sent a round or two into the tower for killmail goodness and then settled in, orbiting the fleet, ready for anything.
Anything came, and it became quite clear why the FC wanted the insta-canes. 17 bombers and an interdictor later the bad guys stopped comming. I managed to get on my first kills in a raptor including a final blow on a pod, which never happens for me.
I was quite a bit uncoordinated unfortunately – I need to practice and memorize the keyboard shortcuts for align to and that sort of thing. I’m sure I could have been more effective if I didn’t stuff around so much with clicking things.
Another lesson learned
We slow-boated home. There was another fleet of bombers that came after us, but the fleet stayed cloaked for as long as possible after each gate. Being in a frigate, I tried to get out of the way of the bombs and was soundly smacked down. took me a few seconds to realise what happened. I broadcasted for shield, then wondered to myself why I was only traveling 175m/s, “oh… I’m in my pod”… I got a shield rep anyway
As it turns out, holding your cloak after a gate also gives you immunity to AOE weapons. I did not know this. I’ve never had to worry about bombs before as my usual ship the Onyx tanks more than battleships, and pretty much the last time I flew a battleship, they had to be tanked for doomsday AOE.
so there you go: even though I’m not planning on flying interceptors regularly, I have learned something useful. The lessons learned today will still be useful when I fly light dictors in about 2 weeks time.
in other news, as I write this (on a saturday morning my time) there are large fights going on with CFC vs NCdot and also Honeybadgers Vs AAA. I can’t be a part of it because of family commitments. oh to be a single forever alone person sitting at my computer by myself all weekend….. heh, nope, having kids is awesome
Over the past weekend the Northern Coalition banded together to get rid of the evoke stain that had spread into lower Cloud Ring.
On Saturday night we didn’t have much luck, taking heavy losses in the initial few skirmishes with evoke fleets as Sons of Tangra and Pandemic Legion joined in for the pew also. I lost my brand new Megathron “Mr Pew” on the saturday night and was out of the fight for the rest of the day, however our luck didn’t improve. I’m told that later that night we Doomsday’d our own fleet – the hostile fleet warped out just as our fleet was bubbled and the DD went off.
There was more fighting on sunday night and due to our absolutely awesome Alliance-level replacement program was in another fully fitted Megathron with zero out-lay on my part. This one still has the designation that it came with: “42.10″ I like it, it’s clinical. I have another three-and-a-bit days to go until I can use tech II large rail guns so I went and bought some tech I ones and joined the fighting.
This time we took out a few Pos’s in the station systems of G8AD and 9-4 and disabled the station fittings in G8AD. I was told that earlier in the day we had managed to successfully doomsday an evoke battleship fleet. most of the evoke pods went to the station in G8AD, which we then proceeded to siege.
By the time I joined we were shooting the station fitting and cloning services to prevent their use by the evoke pilots inside. The undock point was permanently bubbled by a Heavy Interdictor. over the next few hours we attacked POS’s in G8AD and 9-4 as they came out of reinforced mode. In addition to the 150+ battleship fleet we had what looked to be a fleet of about 30-40 dreadnoughts helping us so they went down very quickly. the couple of times that I was targeted by the POS I didn’t even get into armour because the tower was destroyed so quickly.
While waiting for another few POS’s to come out of reinforced we camped the station, killing anything that undocked. This of course got very dull and someone had the brilliant idea to start a conga-line. It took nearly 20 mins for it to get properly sorted but in the end, the results were worth it.
I also made a post that night with more pictures that I won’t repost here (Click here to see them)
That night I logged out at a pos in 9-4 and on monday night it was on again, once again killing station services and three POS’s. By Tuesday the Northern Coalition had forced Evoke out of XZH and G8AD.
The massive effort by pilots in Mostly Harmless, Tau Ceti Federation, Morsus Mihi, Magesta Empire and Defi4nt (oh, and yes I think we saw one Razor ship…I think) over the weekend was truly amazing. We Northern Monkeys Still fight together as one!
As one of our alliance members said on our forums: “Never have I been more proud to be related to a group of people that eat bugs out of each others fur and fling poop for fun.”
Moving into battleships
For a while now I’ve been pvping in my beloved caldari Heavy interdictor. One of the reasons for this is because I’ve always felt like a fifth wheel when taking a raven/scorpion into a fleet fight.
Sure, Scorpions are great and I have quite good jamming skills, but in a 100 Vs 100 battleship fleet, a lone scorpion or two won’t make all that much difference and have a tendency to go splat first, they’re also pretty useless in an armour logistics gang due to the lack of low slots. I also just don’t feel right flying a missile ship in a fleet that may engage another battleship fleet at long range. In those circumstances and at 150km+ range, missiles will take up to a minute to reach the target and by then the primary target is very likely dead before any missiles actually hit. And so I’ve resigned myself to being a light/medium support pilot most of the time.
Now, in order to encourage pvping in expensive t2 fit battleships, Mostly Harmless alliance has a very good battleship replacement program on-top of what each of the corporations provide. Basically if you loose a battleship, the corp (well, my corporation in any case) provide you with another for free, and then if the lost ship was fitted according to certain alliance-level specifications, the corporation gets given a fully fitted replacement battleship paid for out of the alliance communal coffers (don’t you just love high-end moon minerals).
In order to feel less useless, I had cross-trained from Caldari to Gallente over the past few months and have been gradually getting my gunnery skills up. I had been reluctant to fly Gallente battleships due to 1) my crappy drone skills 2) my inability to fit T2 weapons, 3) my lack of experience with non-missile ammunition.
On Sunday, I had an impulse. We had a Call to Arms and the request was “LR BS > Logistics > Scouts > other”, there wasn’t even a call for interdictors… so I hardened the F up and decided to fly a battleship.
45 mins to go until the fleet form up I asked in my corp chat if I could possibly purchase a Megathron, I could see there was a spare one in the corp hanger but needed a director to send it my way. After a short while, I received a fully corp-insured Megathron at a slight discount due to my rank in the corporation. I had previously had a whole bunch of T2 fittings shipped up from empire in anticipation of this day. These modules however, had been sitting there collecting veldspar dust in my hanger for about 3 months so I polished them up and fitted them to my new ship.
With 5 minutes to go I ran to get into my pod, throwing a Champaign bottle at the side of my new megathron, christening it “Mr Pew”. I know, it’s unimaginative, it’s all I could think of at the time. I’ll make sure I re-name it “Sir Pewalot (OBE)” when I can use T2 guns.
Then I remembered I needed ammunition… and for the first time ever when choosing ammunition, I was stumped…. I hadn’t really thought this through before. It had somehow seeped into my thick Caldari skull that different ammo types meant different optimal ranges but that’s as far as it went.
After annoying my corp-mates and apologising for being a megathron newbie I got some shadow Iron L and a few thousand t1 iron and uranium rounds and hoped for the best. (mental note: buy all ammo types and check ranges BEFORE getting into a fight, also mental note – make sure you ship extra faction ammunition to 0.0 prior to dominion hitting.).
The fleet turned out to be a POS bashing, which was perfect for me to get used to flying Gallente battleships. Despite the fact I’m lacking t2 weapons, my galente battleship skill is at lvl 4 and I was able to still do respectable damage. It also turned out that it was in a TCF held system in cloud ring. TCF had kindly bubbled all the gates with tech II large bubbles and so my Hictor would have been pretty redundant anyway. And we proceeded to reinforce two evoke POS’s with a combined fleet of 200+ including Mostly Harmless, TCF and Defi4nt battleships, logistics and light support.
It was good introduction to gunships for me. I enjoyed it, although everyone else found it boring. The Evoke POS’s appeared to be the D2 special’s I talked about previously – no guns, all hardners – designed to bore the crap out of the opposing force. Last time we were able to bring in dreadnaughts, and the Pos’s melted in 3 seige cycles, this time we sat there for about an hour even with 200 people pounding away in battleships. Bring on the Dominion changes! Found I was cap stable with 5 out of 7 guns firing which apparently was fairly good. Turned my effects on so that I could get some good shots. I think I could get used to flying a Megathron…..
sorry for the lack of content this week – been stupidly busy with work, I haven’t even made it to any of the Alliance CTA’s since the weekend. the fighting has been centred around the r64 pos in 00ty-J still… although the other night MH and friends went and reinforced 7 hostile pos’s around pure blind and cloud ring. hopefully I’ll get home in time for some pew tonight. in the meantime however, some eye candy from my wormhole carebearing days:
Since the recent Apocropha patch, the Stealth bomber has finally lived up to its name. They are now able to warp cloaked and can use torpedos, which when combined with the ship bonuses, can hit out to 50km without even trying. This has had a possibly unintended side effect: Stealth bombers are now viable as POS killers.
Manticore in warp
Low-Risk pew pew = Icing
As the icing on a weekend of heavy fighting with Sons of Tangra (which I unfortunately missed out on due to being out of the country for 4 days) Mostly Harmless got together a fleet of Stealth bombers with the intention to reinforce a few small POS’s deep in Enemy territory.
None of us really had that much experience with Black ops gangs, but our enemies seem to use them quite a bit, so we thought it prudent to learn the ropes.
Black ops Gangs 101.
At the core of a Black ops Gang is, of course, the black ops Battleship. Like Titans, Black ops ships have the ability to create a jump portal for other ships to travel through, completely bypassing a number of jump gates. The catch is: only ships that can use a covert ops cloaking device can travel through these portals, so force recons, coverts, stealth bombers, blockade runners and more recently cloaky strategic cruisers.
A proper Black ops gang is not something put together easily: The requirements to fly a black ops Battleship are fairly high, near-capital ship skills. In order to create the necessary covert Cynosural fields, you need the cynosural field generation skill to lvl 5 (which, as a rank 5 skill is a very long time to train). In order to fly the blockade runner industrials, you need Industrial lvl 5 (which luckily quite a few in 0.0 space have) , and of course you need frigate 5 and a number of other weapons skills to properly fly a stealth bomber. Of course, the legion wasn’t required, but a force recon or a legion requires nearly the same skills, including cruiser to lvl 5.
Nevertheless we got together two Black ops battleships, 30ish stealth bombers, two blockade runner transports with spare amunition and fuel, and one Legion Strategic Cruiser.
We knew that because of the intense weekend of attacking and because ot the time of day this fleet had been formed, we would encounter little resistance getting into our destination. so the Black ops ships were brought in so we could all get out, even if the system was locked down with us still in it.
The journey in was fairly uneventfull as we expected, we all jumped into the system and set up a number of safespots. The key at this point was to retain stealth. one-by-one, we bookmarked the Pos’s and set up our own warp-in points at random spaces arround each. the black ops, legion and transport ships cloaked up and waited.
The First Pos we attacked went uneventfully, which was good for us. Thinking that our worst enemy would be another stealth bomber fleet, we practiced keeping spaced out evenly arround the pos.
one hostile stealth bomber harrased us with bombs, but was quickly dispatched and those of us that took damage warped to our friendly Legion for a spot of remote repping, before going back out.
It quickly became apparent that although the POS had zero EM and Explosive damage resistance, those that had brought Kinetic and thermal torpedoes were doing more damage than those who were using EM and Explosive due to their racial 15% bonus to that damage type per covert ops level. I was in a manticore, doing 750 EM damage per missile, whereas if I had brought kinetic, I would have been easily over 1000 damage per missile.
Due to these bonuses, our little force of 30 stealth bombers was doing more than the damage of 15 torpedo ravens (which is a heck of a lot). and we reinforced the first pos very quickly.
Moving onto the second POS, we dropped the shields quickly, but it didn’t go into reinforced mode…. they had forgotten to put Strontium in it. This was becomming a recurring theme with Sons of Tangra. Once they realised this, it seemed like they panicked and sent a Guardian logistics ship to rep the tower, we quickly dispatched it and a brutix which had wandered outside the pos shields.
Then, just as the POS was bleeding into armour, they brought in 5 carriers and an assault frigate. it was then we learned the counter to a stealth bomber gang – the oft-neglected assault frigate (with 5 carrier’s worth of fighters guarding it). after taking a few losses it became clear we were no match for them, so we bugged out via black ops portal.
This was my first black ops portal, so I wanted to take heaps of artsy shots, but I also had to get out quickly so this is the best one. The portal creates this disturbing inky blob, radiating out from the black ops ship. very very cool. Of course it inspired a Haiku to make up for the less-than-perfect screenshot:
Portal to an unknown place
Escape from danger – Akura Kawanaka
All in all, it was great fun and some not-so-expensive lessons learned:
1) Always bring racial damage types to take advantage of the SB’s bonuses.
2) Kill the freaking assault ships ASAP.
Incase you care, here’s my fitting – one thing that’s missing is a target painter – I couldn’t find one on the market quick enough. also missing are some rigs – since the last patch small rigs have made it viable to rig frigates without adding too much to the cost. I would probably add missile damage rigs (at least for this type of job anyway)
Prelude to Invasion
So it has become apparent over the last week or so that Sons of Tangra would like to have a go at taking some of the 0.0 space controlled by Mostly Harmless. There have been movements of Capital fleets arround areas close to MH space and some POS’s put up by SOT and their allies in what is considered a region controlled by MH.
An Influence map of the north-west portion of the Eve universe
As you can see from the map above, SOT are quite a distance away from Mostly Harmless, however they have recently moved a capital fleet into a low security space staging area in the Lonetrek region, just south of the Mostly Harmless/Council/Morsus Mihi borders. This movement, combined with the fact that SOT have acted hostile to MH over recent months, lead the MH leaders to strongly suspect an attack this weekend.
Now, dispite the fact that I live in 0.0 space, I have difficulty understanding the politics sometimes, but here’s a basic run-down of this area of Eve:
Tau Ceti Federation, Razor, Morsus Mihi, Wildly Inappropriate and Mostly Harmless form what is known as the Northern Coalition. The NC is friendly to Goonswarm who control the region just south of SOT. Pandemic legion works closely with the NC but is only officially “blue” to a couple of the alliances. PL are officially Neutral to MH but own some high-end moons within MH space. you could say that PL and MH are “it’s complicated” facebook buddies. SOT are seen as PL pets, and I believe are known to be a heavy industrial alliance, as are MH. So perhaps now you can grasp the delicate nature of SOT attacking MH.
POS Warfare 101
POS warfare is an interesting thing, I’ll write another post about it sometime, but for now it’s only important to know that you generally can’t kill a POS in one-go. Once a Pos’s shields get past a certain point, it enters “reinforced mode” during which it is invulnerable until the timer expires. The amount of time that this mode lasts is dependant on the size of the POS and how much Strontium has been loaded into it’s fuel reserves. For a large POS, the general timer is 1 day and 17 hours. during which time of course, the owners of the POS will rally their defence fleets. This is why they say in 0.0, you always know when there’s going to be a large fleet battle a day or so in advance. and why CCP ask directors of corporations to let them know of potential >300 person fights.
Anyway… back to our previously scheduled program.
Mostly Harmless scouts were sent out early this week with the task of finding the enemy’s staging area. on Thursday, word came in of a weekend of Call To Arms. A CTA basically requires all members of every corp online to be working towards the war effort. Those that can’t fly combat ships can scout or haul resources to staging areas. As a member of my corporation’s Pew Pew brigade I warmed up my HIC, moved arround a few battleships for the corporation and double-checked my ammo supplies.
The first fleet of the CTA was called on friday night. The word was that we were going to reinforce a SOT POS, but it we were not told which one just yet.
Now, the Mostly Harmless leadership had chosen this particular POS and this particular time in order that it would come out of reinforced mode on Sunday afternoon, where everyone in the alliance from both Euro and US timezones would be online to take it down and we’d have a numbers advantage over SOT.
So the call went out to form up. the FC said that he’d Idealy like 4-5 Heavy interdictors and that they must all bring Focus scripts. I knew then we’d be fighting in Lowsec.
Avatar Titan in our Staging area
So we all formed up and Titan-Bridged into the lowsec system of Saranen in the Lonetrek region. Just one jump outside Mostly Harmless-held Pure-blind. Due to the fact that bubbles can’t be used in lowsec, locking down a system is that much harder. the HIC’s were chosen over interceptors for their ability to Tank the gate guns.
After engaging a few SOT undocking from a station near the cyno beacon, the Heavy interdictors were spread out to lock down the system as best as they could. I was sent to the Tartoken gate and was immediately set apon by the gate guns due to my previous aggression.
It was at this point I realised a distinct advantage of an Onyx-class HIC over the other types. Shields have a natural passive regeneration to them, and so I was able to take all the damage the gate was giving me and still remain above 60% shield. if I had the foresight to fit some shield regeneration modules I would have easily been up arround 80% but I was fitted out for mobile gang warfare with a Buffer tank rather than a passive regen fit.
The other HIC’s however weren’t so happy. as they too were Buffer tanked (as most HIC’s should be) they were having difficulty remaining cap stable repairing their armor, which doesn’t naturally regenerate while being hit by the gate guns.
Anyway, once our scouts and HIC’s were deployed, our Dreadnought fleet jumped in and proceded to bash on the SOT capital staging Pos anchored in the system.
The dreadnoughts went into seige mode – where they cannot move, or be repaired by other ships, but do many times the normal amount of damage. And we settled in for the duration. It was mostly uneventfull, with the occasional force recon warping in and out and jumping through, neither SOT or their allies put up any fight and so the dreads went into a second seige cycle.
It was towards the end of the second seige cycle that one of the dread pilots said on Team Speak: “Uh….I don’t think they put Strontium in this POS”. Sure enough, the Tower did not enter reinforced mode. Disbelieving, a third Dread seige cycle was ordered and the tower and all its modules melted. This is unheard of – No-one puts up a Tower and doesn’t put at least some strontium in it. Particularly not if the Tower is the capital ship staging area for an attack on another alliance……
The COAD post in the Eve forums said it all:
“SOT Cap Fleet Spotted Moving in near PB. Here it comes MH are you ready?????????”
and after a bit of banter, the result of the fight was posted:
“MH were indeed ready and attempted to use the default POS load of 1 day 17 hours to set up a fun Sunday evening. However as SoT had cunningly put zero stront in their low sec capital stagin tower, MH accidently the entire POS.
After the experience, we were all a bit numb… like I imagine you would be if you went to hunt a wolf but found it was just a little puppy…… but then you killed it anyway…
The FC appologised profusely for misleading us into thinking we were going to reinforce a POS. The others consoled themselves by toasting the FC, but since I had no whiskey on me at the time, I consoled myself with a cool screenshot of my HIC in Warp.
We were all looking for a bit of fun and were dissapointed. We’ll see what the weekend brings in any case. SOT have assured us: “The Pew; it will be glorious” we certainly hope so. Nothing beats fleets of 200+ on each side beating the hell out of eachother. Bring it on brothers.