The wages of complacency: POS warfare
Confucius had the following to say about holding soverinty in 0.0 space:
The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved. – Confucius (circa 551-479 BC)
While he could be accused of playing too many fantasy MMO’s (seriously… “clans”?… pshh) he definately has a very good point, one that should be heeded by all nullsec holding alliances.
The recent war between Mostly Harmless and Sons of Tangra (and allies) has been as a result of us becomming complacent. We achieved influence over three regions of nullsec space and then went back to our carebear ways until the threat of being overrun was very real.
This post is the first in a series dealing with the skirmishes that have occured in the last month or so in Cloud Ring and Pure Blind regions.
Carriers in a mist of sensor boosters
The battle for 9-4RP2
In my Previous Post on Heavy Interdictors, I posted a screenshot of me tackling a Dreadnought in the system 9-4RP2. This was one moment in a drawn out battle for control of this system. Here is a rough timeline as I remember it:
1 ) Northern Coalition combines forces to kick Evoke out of MJYW-3, A massive battle with 700 people in local – (a nice battle report comes from Raukho (evoke) on the second page of this thread in the eve online forums
2 ) Mostly harmless, with a clean back yard, proceed to ignore Confucius and take a bit of a rest, mining and producing stuff and generally getting complacent.
3 ) Evoke quietly start placing pos’s in back-water systems in Cloud ring. They and SOT gain some sov but Mostly Harmless mostly pays it little attention.
4 ) Evoke gain sov in O-BDXB – one system away from the critical station system of 9-4RP2. Mostly harmless sit up and take a bit of notice, but it is a bit late.
5 ) Evoke Place a number of POS’s in 9-4 itself. Mostly Harmless wakes up and the pew is on.
6 ) Mostly Harmless attacks the Evoke Pos’s on the 14th of August, killing multiple capital ships and almost losing a Titan.
7 ) two days later, MH finish the job with a textbook lockdown of 9-4
8 ) MH go on the offensive and bloody Evoke’s nose a bit in their home systems.
Not wanting to bore you with a blow-by-blow account, I’ll focus on the interesting bits.
The System lockdown
The first thing the home defence fleet must accomplish is a total lock down of the system in question. This generally involves placing bubbles of various kinds on the in-bound gates with an accompanying fleet of ships sitting at optimal ranges from the gate(s). Scouts in covert ops or recon ships are sent out in to the neighbouring systems to watch for the inevitable fleet of bad guys on their way back to finish what they started.
If friendly capitals are deployed, it is a high priority of the fleets defending the gates to take out any light/heavy interdictors first.
POS basics 101: Cyno Jammers.
Cynosural fields are beacons that are created by a ship carrying a cynosural field generator (or by a module attached to a POS). This allows any capital class ship within range to jump across multiple systems, avoiding the standard system gates and land in the target system. This is the only way capitals (with the exception of Jump Freighters) can travel as they are too large to use standard gates.
In addition, Titans are able to create “Jump Bridges” to the cyno beacon, through which non-capital ships can travel to the target system, thus avoiding any gate camps/enemy scouts that may be operating and decreasing travel time dramatically.
Once a certain level of sovereignty has been reached, an alliance can deploy system cynosural field jammers. These prevent anyone from opening a cynosural field within the system and jumping in a capital fleet. Obviously, the Cyno jammer is a high-priority target for an attacking fleet. Once it has been brought down, then they can Jump whole fleets of ships into the system at will, rendering any system lockdown bubbles and gate-camps irrelevant and changing the game entirely.
This was exactly what Evoke did, but we were ready for them and fairly large capital slugfest ensued as you can see in this Killboard Battle summary. Not trying to boast, but we would have achieved more capital kills except our titan was tackled and all damage was focused on the hostile interdictors/HICs. I’d say it wasn’t the smartest thing to warp a titan into a hostile fleet when there’s caps nearby but anyway….. I have a few screenshots of this fight but everyone was so spread out that they’re not all that great.
Then followed two days of battleship fleet fighting until the Evoke POS’s came out of reinforced and we locked down the system, deploying bubbles on all gates and setting up a sniping battleship fleet ready to take out anything trying to get in.
Kill the Pos!
There were two hostiles pos’s in the system to kill, so we set about killing them. I don’t pretend to have very much knowledge about these things, but one of them was an Amarr large entirely fitted out with Hardners, containing no offensive modules at all. The FC said that this was a “D-2 Special” in reference to the second Delve war between the greater bob community and Goonswarm/Northern Coalition et al. The aim of this type of pos is to delay the opposing fleet long enough to get a good defence in place, and/or cause the attacking fleet to stay in one place for long enough for the defending capitals to get in and bash at them directly.
Unfortunately for Evoke, they didn’t have (or decided not to bring) the capital support they needed to make this type of POS work, and it melted in three dreadnaught siege cycles without our fleet being harassed at all.
The next pos seemed to be the one that evoke were hoping to defend, with some ships warping in and out prior to it comming out of reinforced. So we R-caged it. This is a tactic whereby large deployable bubbles are placed entirely covering the POS so nothing can get in.
We then warped in our capital fleet to deliver the final blow.
Shortly there after it died and we took the fight to Evoke
We were also fortunate enough to detect an anchoring POS in O-B and start attacking it before it could be onlined and fuelled. We did, however, need to stop Evoke getting to it and fueling it so we had four HIC’s spread their bubbles out over the pos while we brought in our cap fleet to take it out. – consternation ensued:
Dread pilot: “uh.. is it just my imagination or do I see 4 HIC bubbles on the tower” FC: “Yep, you see correctly” Dread pilot: “uhm…. do we, uh, not want it to go anywhere?”
Black ops gangs – Mosquitos with Teeth.
One tactic that evoke seemed to have embraced is black ops gangs. which I have talked about recently. They are quite good in theory. They can use a black ops cynosural beacon to jump in 5-10 stealth bombers to a cyno-jammed system who can then harass a defence fleet no end with co-ordinated bomb attacks. Bombs can take up a lot of space so a frigate sized stealth bomber can only carry 4, two in the cargo bay and two in the launcher, however, since the recent patch, Blockade-runner-class transport ships are also able to use black ops jump bridges, so we suspect evoke sent in one of these to keep the stealth bombers supplied with ammo for the duration of the day.
Capital ships generally don’t have the ability to lock the bombers in time before they cloak up again, and if the carriers have any fighters out or the dreads have their drones out, it’s very easy for 10 million isk worth of bombs from 5 bombers to take out hundreds of millions of isk worth of fighters and drones.
This is painful for the target fleet, if not fatal. I’ve been told a carrier-deployed fighter can withstand 4 bombs, and that 7 or more bombs launched simultaneously will cause the first 6 to destroy the 7th bomb while it is still in flight, so the magic number is 6 coordinated bombs. The damage isn’t so much of a worry for the capital ships themselves, but the fighters are a pain to replace when you’re deployed to the front line – they take up 5,000m3 of cargo space…
Also, when aimed at battleship fleets, these bombers can single-shot destroy a battleship when they combine a volley of torpedoes alongside the bombs, however we’ve found that when they start flying in one direction long enough to target and launch torpedos, they tend to loose one or two bombers each wave, making it less than cost effective. Nevertheless, after this past weekend – us Northern monkeys have a renewed respect for black ops gangs and a renewed love for our Logistics ships, that’s all I have to say. 🙂
In any case – major props to Evoke – even if they’re the underdog in this fight, they’re “playing eve” with us and we in the NC really appreciate it.
A lot of these tactcs may end up dissapearing with the release of the Dominion patch, I’m sure it will be no less fun and possibly will be more interesting. c u on teh battlefield, whatever happens.