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Black Ops Gangs

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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  1. February 10, 2010 at 01:19

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