2013/10/23

Roaming gods of the underworld - a wormhole fleet op report

We shot something. Hooray!


This might not be the best way to start, but in light of a recent dry spell when it comes to PvP opportunities, I really wanted to say it before anything else.

Yes, this time there is actually some pew-pew to write about. Ships exploded. No, not a tower, even if the picture above would suggest that. I do not want tell you all of it before we actually get there. And no, not as many as I would have liked, but way better than nothing at all. And, as usual, the things that happened before the actual combat are at least as interesting as the encounter itself. Or, to say it in other words: it's about the journey, not the destination.

The story begins a couple of days ago. During the last (and my first) corp meeting, it was decided to focus more on armor fittings for our future corp roams. Since we are living inside a C4 pulsar system, the corp in general had preferred shield based fittings so far, and consequently this decision resulted in a few trips to Jita or Amarr for most of us in order to get the necessary equipment into Zero.

Which we did. As of now my personal stockpile of ships ready to be used looks something like this. 



Some shield fits for home defence and the occasional deviation from the new doctrine are of course also included here, and apart from a missing Curse, a Guardian and a Legion I am rather happy with what I have at my disposal.

The perceived average cost of a typical wormhole ship plus its modules is about a thousand times higher than what I was used to fly while living in lowsec, but as I have said before: ISK is only there to be converted into shiny explosions and all the excitement that comes along with those.

As some of you might know, I have a soft spot for the Sacrilege. I tried, with limited success, to use it for solo lowsec roams before my summer break, and after the recent buffs it seemed to be a really good idea to use it as a cheap (yeah, right ..) alternative to a Legion or Proteus in small armor gangs.

Because of that, I decided to fly said Sacrilege during my first fleep op in w-space. This is the fitting that I have used. Yes, both buffer and active tank combined. I will talk about both the specific fitting and alternatives to it in more detail in another post, but let's go back to the main narrative before I deviate too much from the actual plot here.


We met up in Zero yesterday evening at around 18:00 Eve time. A Damnation for link support, two Guardians to help us staying alive, a few cloaky covop scouts to be our eyes and a mixed assortment of T3s, battlecruisers and HACs to provide the necessary firepower. All in all a nice little gang, and compared with what I was used to regarding fleet operations, a surprisingly effective one in terms of composition and related synergy effects.

On the other hand I still plan to bring Peri's kitchen sink fleet concept to w-space :)



In preparation of the our roam, Astrum and a few others had already mapped out the chain. With two highsec exits and subsequent entries into both lowsec and unconnected w-space, a lot of possibilities to get into trouble to shoot all the things waited for us.


With our scouts in place both in front of and behind the fleet, we headed off into space. The wormhole systems directly adjacent to Zero showed a few active POSes whose owners seemed to be primarily online in the EU TZ, but no player activity had been detected.

We kept on moving, left our little pocket of w-space behind and briefly traversed highsec before diving back into the unknown. Apart from the occasional covops scout that crossjumped us at a hole or a lonely industrial sitting safely behind POS shields, we found nothing during the first hour of our roam. Our scouts tried everything they could to find us some targets, and slowly the chain grew larger and larger.


Another 30 to 45 minutes later, one of our vanguard (read: bait) ships reported a group of lowsec pirates at a gate in Aubenall. We waited patiently at the wormhole exit to lowsec. A few moments later, they aggressed. First a Maller, then a Rupture, and suddenly their whole gang was on top of him. While their gang composition was still reported on comms, fleet command gave the order to jump and to warp to our bait pilot at optimal ranges.


While in warp, the orders were given to primary the Maller and to spread points among all enemy ships to prevent anyone from leaving. Landing on grid, I decided that a secondary point on the primary target would not be a bad idea. Locking him and calling out point, I pulsed my MWD and directed my Sacrilege into a steady orbit of 20km in order to stay outside scram range as I wanted to keep my mobility as long as possible.


Almost simultaneously to pointing him, I saw that the enemy pilots started to burn away from us or warp out directly. And while in retrospect it is nice to know that I actually realized this, it doesn't really help as I didn't reacted at all to this crucial bit of information. I did not redeploy my point to another ship, I did not leave my orbit to pursue a fleeing opponent, I did not call out to my fellow pilots to make sure points were indeed spreaded .. in fact, I did not do anything useful except maybe launching missiles at our doomed primary.


When it was actually called out on comms that our secondary was leaving point range, the damage had already been done. Ships started to leave the grid, and soon only our primary remained. He exploded quickly.


Seeing no chance of getting into another engagement with the remains of the pirate gang, we dropped back into w-space where we briefly analyzed our mistakes. As it turned out, all of us had a similar understanding of what had just happened, and I am quite sure that we will do better next time.

Not willing to give up that early in the evening, we followed a recently discovered branch of the chain that lead into nullsec.

Checking dotlan showed the system to be part of a pipe connecting Syndicate to Solitude. Especially the M2-CF1 gate looked like a good location to find targets.


Our scouts quickly reported multiple wrecks and recently offered 'good fight's in local. A small gang of ships, both dps and logistics, were located at the M2-CF1 gate, and the second our scout had bookmarked a container right next to one of the Scimitars, we pounced and jumped into the system.

Sadly, our opponents knew what a local spike usually indicates. While initiating our warp from the wormhole exit to the bookmarked location near the Scimitar, we were told that the Scimitars had started to move. Seconds later, part of their gang had performed a small on-grid jump to a tactical location 200km away from us while the rest had already left the gate entirely. Without any fast tackle (note to self: bring a few Interceptors into w-space) at our disposal, we reluctantly moved back into w-space again.



Looking at the time and considering that a few pilots had left us already because of pressing RL obligation (sleep, that is), it was obvious that the smart move at this point would be to start the way back home. A trailing scout reported multiple ships in Charlie, among them a Vargur, a Megathron and a Cyclone, and the mere change of snatching up a Marauder almost on our doorsteps made this an easy decision.

Taking the short trip back through highsec, we took position at the wormhole from Bravo to Charlie.


Our two Harbingers were commanded to jump in and pose as bait while our cloaked scout reported what was happening at the enemy POS.

During the next 20 minutes, combat scanner probes appeared multiple times on the short range d-scan of our bait ships. To disguise their real purpose slightly, they warped from custom office to custom office, always hoping that this time the enemy prober would get a solution and provide his fleet with an opportunity to engage us.

I can only assume that they did manage to scan us down - if not, they should not be able to survive out here in w-space at all - but decided against attacking us. At the end, one of their covops scouts suddenly arrived on the other side of the hole at which we were waiting, jumped into our waiting gang and discovered us.

After our scout reported all enemy ships had returned to their POS, we went home, disappointed that they had not even sent a few battlecruisers to investigate. Still, I enjoyed the experience of the roam in total, especially since it came with so many opportunities for improvement. We don't seem to have any problems with finding people, however actually getting them to engage is - as we all knew before - quite hard most of the time.

But there is always tomorrow.

Cheers and see you out there,

V



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