2013/12/16

Into the belly of the beast - a wormhole fleet op report

Scout "Check check activity on the highsec hole. Incoming enemy reinforcements ... Guardian, Proteus, Prophecy, Rupture, Loki, Loki, Phobos, Falcon."

Me "This will be close. Our goal is still to break their logistic chain. Primary is Ru3en in the Guardian. All ECM drones on Suon in the second Guardian, all neuts on RedHell in the third as soon as he lands. Burn towards the Guardians .. it will get us outside the bubble and make it easier to project our DPS on them."



The circumstances aren't ideal. We have engaged an armor fleet inside a wolf-rayet system while flying a more or less kitchen sink shield fleet without clear focus on either short or long range dps and with random armor ships added to the mix. What's even worse: we have deliberately allowed the enemy to lure us away from our hole and into a position from where at least some of us won't be able to escape when things go south.

We have no backup, we cannot escape and the odds are NOT in our favour.

Still, I am calm. As calm as one can be considering that this is actually the very first fleet engagement I am commanding where both parties are committed to the fight. Deep breaths. Don't stop talking. We finally got the fight that we wanted, so keep it together. Primary is Ru3en, all ECM on Suon, all neuts on RedHell. Broadcast reps. Let's see what we can do here ....

---

One hour earlier.

After a relaxing evening watching one of the latest episodes of The Mentalist with the wife I log back into Eve. All previous connections to Zero have been closed while I was away, and only the connection to highsec via Charlie and the newly scanned Alfa remain.


Getting on comms I am told that a Proteus pilot belonging to Eve Ryuken has jumped from Charlie to Zero and is holding its position a few kilometers away from the hole. Obvious bait is obvious, but we still decide to engage.

I am sitting in the fleet 'ceptor that I brought into Zero a few hours ago, and since there is already enough dps en route to the T3 cruiser I happily direct my little ship to warp to the K162 connecting us to Charlie. Due to the warp speed changes I actually arrive first on the scene. Point, MWD and orbit. What a nimble little ship, I love it.

For a few seconds, everything goes according to plan. His buffer tank is breaking, albeit slowly, and it won't take long before he jumps back into Charlie.


But no. He stays, and our forward scout reports ships appearing on d-scan in Charlie, apparently in warp to the hole. Three, four, five, six, seven, eight and counting, all T3s and logistics. Too much for our little fleet to deal with right now.


We disengage and go back to our POS, telling everybody who is not yet there to log on and to get into shield ships. With a proper fleet in place now, we get ready to defend our home.


Due to a communications fuckup Astrum has already warped back to the hole, assuming we would be right behind him. Sadly, this is not the case, and when we arrive the only thing we find is his wreck and the last ship of the Eve Ryuken gang jumping clear.


Our scout on the other side reports that the majority of their fleet has already left the hole, and to make sure that there is not another error of communication I give the order to stay in Zero while we sort out who is where and what is happening.

Our fleet is now in a good position to defend, with our dps ships located in optimal ranges to the hole and our logistics outside of enemy brawling range should they decide to jump back into us.


Nothing is happening, and I take the following moments of peace to gather my thoughts and see what can be done tonight.

Our fleet consists of two logistics, a third one its way, two HAM Tengus, three Gilas, a Loki, a Nighthawk, a Legion, a Thorax and a Tornado. Hmm. Mostly shield fits, but a few armor ships as well. Mostly short range, but also the odd long range setup.

Not really ideal and more kitchen sink (for wormholes, that is) than I would like, but there is nothing to be done about that. A few of our newest members have just brought in their first batch of ships into the hole and don't have anything else to field, and other pilots either have not replaced their recent losses yet or just don't have the skills necessary to bring shield T3s, command ships or even BCs.

In the end, it does not matter. Might even increase our chances to get into a fight as our enemies could be more interested in engaging our current fleet composition instead of a more refined one.

So we wait while our scouts are looking for any undiscovered connections deeper into w-space as well as keeping their eyes open for incoming ships.

Our scout pipes up on comms only two minutes later.

"Check check, Legion on the Zero hole in Charlie. He is jumping into you, and he is not with Eve Ryuken. There are also two Guardians on scan as well as another Legion and a Proteus. They are not on grid with me."

The Legion indeed jumps into us, assumedly takes a screenshot of what he sees and jumps back. We keep our position as we are still gathering intel on this new enemy. Uncharted Skies. Hm, I have never heard of them, but my fleet mates have. I am told that we have fought them before and that they know what they are doing.

Well, in that case they know more then we do, but we are here to learn. This time, we won't run from a fight as we did the last time when an armor gang jumped into us. This time, we will fight. On our terms if we can, on their terms if we have to.

The Legion jumps into our little camp again a few minutes later. Again he stays for seconds only before jumping back, but this time we give chase. Our dps follows while our support stays on range in Zero.


With their Legion now polarized and tackled, they have no other choice than to bring in their fleet. I give the order to jump back, hoping to provoke them into following us.

They don't. Can't blame them, but it was worth a try. All right, it seems that we have to dial it up a notch and get ready to come to them. Yeah, bringing a shield fleet to fight a armor fleet in a wolf-rayet system, always a good idea. The things you do to get a fight.

We cluster up around the hole, and only seconds before I give the order to jump the enemy fleet warps away on the other side. Maybe they still have a scout in Zero warning them that we are getting ready to jump into them. Or maybe we were just unlucky.


We jump and get our bearings. Scout reports the enemy fleet located at the customs office at planet VI. Another scout says the rest of the system seems empty and that he has eyes on the only other incoming wormhole, namely the one leading to hisec.

So they want to get us to leave the safety of the wormhole that leads back into Zero. It only takes a few seconds to decide what to do next, and despite the possibility of springing a trap we warp to the customs office at zero.

In hindsight, this was one of my biggest mistakes. No, I don't mean the decision to engage per se, but rather the fact that I did not think of ordering our scout to provide us with a direct warp-in to the enemy Guardians.

When we land on grid, the two logistics are about 30km off. Not entirely out of our reach, but the distance makes it impossible to apply our dps potential immediately.

Seconds after we start to burn towards the Guardians and simultaneously with me giving the order to primary one of them while jamming and neuting the other, our scout reports their backup jumping in from hisec. We have sprung a trap indeed.




The size of the enemy fleet has now more than doubled. Starting with two logistics and three DPS ships, it now brings a total number of three logistics, eight DPS ships, one dedicated ECM boat and one HIC to the table.

Most of us manage to get on top of the Guardians and apply our damage. Or at least this is what I assume is happening. Too much is happening at the same time, and I have to concentrate to stay in control as my hands begin to shake. Keep all dps on Ru3en, make sure all ECM drones are on Suon and neut both RedHell and Suon. Come on, keep it up. Overheat your guns, Ru3en is breaking. He .. no, he is not. Nevermind. Keep going.

Our reps are holding, but so are theirs.When our neut geddon lands on the field, it looks as if we would be able to break their logistic chain, but only for a moment. Their ECM support manages to lock down both our logistics as well as some of our more potent DPS ships to great effect, and the first ship on our side is going down. It is getting harder and harder to put any pressure on the Guardians, and after a few moments that felt like hours our logistics report that they cannot keep up anymore.

Our fleet is breaking. Surprisingly, I am really calm now. Despite the fact that almost all ships are still on the field, I know that it is over.

We start to disengage, and with acceptable losses we manage to get back to our POS. There are so many thoughts in my head that still need to be disentangled from the unavoidable rush of adrenalin that came with the engagement, and despite the fact that we have lost this fight I am more than happy that we actually decided to go for it.

After the fight, I realized that they - the FCs I talked to during the last weeks to get some advice - had been right. Take any fight you can get if there is even the tiniest change that you might win it. You just need the experience. It is one thing to be a (more or less) capable solo pilot, but an entirely different thing to command multiple people in a combat scenario.

On top of that, there are quite a lot of lessons that can be learned from the engagement itself.

  • Never stop talking when you are the FC. Keep your voice steady, don't yell, and repeat orders in a calm and controlled manner.
  • Make sure that your fleet can actually apply its damage potential to the primary target. Decide whom to target before the battle begins and adjust accordingly. Use your cloaked scouts to provide tactical warp-ins.

And probably a lot more. I will check the video footage of the fight tonight and start making a commentary ... as soon as that is completed I will let you know here.

A big thanks to Uncharted Skies for coming out to play, and all the best to Uther Penfaxe, their FC. Your trap was well-laid, and you and your pilots did a good job on the field. I am looking forward to meeting you again, and also to get your perspective on the fight.

Cheers,

V

PS. In regards to breaking the logi chain: the following comment was made by our primary target Ru3en on the EVE-O forums.
I was giving double Cap to Red. (he was not jammed but neuted)
With us both having Logi 5 and perfect Support skills he was still able to 3x or 4x rep me.
So for breaking 3 Guardians its important to break the SOURCE of the Cap that he used to rep me.. and that was the target itself (ME).... because Suon was jammed and out of the chain.
That could have turned it.
Should be in mind of a Neut-Pilot. FC cant handle all these little problems :)
Thanks, Ru3en. Very much appreciated.

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