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Black Ops Gangs

August 31, 2009 1 comment

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
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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 Widow and a sin waiting at a jump bridge
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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.

A Legion E-peen class cruiser with a cloaky bit at the front
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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.

Roll out

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.

Damage types

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.

A Fleet of Stealth bombers Creates pretty lights at a Sons of Tangra moon mining POS
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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.

Oops (again)

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:

Darkness incarnate
Portal to an unknown place
Escape from danger
– Akura Kawanaka

Widow opening a Black Ops Portal in SPLE-Y System in Fountain Region
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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)

Manticore Fitting
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Punisher

August 31, 2009 3 comments

Punisher in an unknown wormhole (just before being blown up by sleepers)
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Nidhoggur by Starlight

August 24, 2009 Leave a comment

“The Harshness of Space:
Into the Void I would go
But for my ship’s hull”
– Akura Kawanaka

Nidhoggur Carrier in an unknown wormhole
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Vagabond Broadside

August 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Vagabond fires a broadside while at speed in YA0-XJ
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War

August 22, 2009 1 comment

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
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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.

Politics

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.

First Strike

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
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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 systems surrounding Saranen
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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.

Oops!

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.

Oops. “

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.

 
Ok, so it’s pretty much the ugliest ship in the game but it looks half decent with this background
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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.

Torrinos Gate, EC-P8R

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Only the foolish camp here, it is a regional gate so it needs two Tech II large mobile warp disruption bubbles anchored in order to even come close to covering it. It is also a gateway to empire where any corporation or alliance may gather their strength with impunity. It truly is a cursed system. 
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…it does make for a fine screenshot however.

Motherships by Starlight

August 19, 2009 2 comments

An Aeon Class Mothership
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A Nyx Class Mothership
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A Wyrvern class Mothership
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Sorry, I’m missing a Hel shot – I have a couple but they’re all messed up by the fact it is sitting in an ugly POS shield with a fleet surrounding it…