We were looking to blow up one of these.
That is a capital ship assembly array, sitting happily inside a station’s protective bubble. That is where supercapital ships are built.
This one was slated to die.
More after the cut.
This line is to push the text after the cut into the reader’s line of vision and is otherwise meaningless and should be edited out by Riverini should he decide to syndicate this post.
It was so targeted because the CFC, in the (very subjective) peace in the north, still has “crap all over Intrepid Crossing” on its list of things to do.
Peacetime means that we are not actively trying to take territory away from Intrepid Crossing (IRC), but we are clearly making an effort to blow up their stuff. I cannot actually remember why we’re doing this. I think they helped Northern Coalition during the tower burning war in Tenal. But that was before the peace, OTEC, Burn Jita, Hulkageddon, and Diablo III, all of which have pretty much pushed the story behind this out of my brain. And the strategic ops announcements on the forums aren’t much help.
For all I know it could be to keep us from finding trouble elsewhere. There are people in the CFC who will start fires just to see what happens when they are bored. And IRC is convenient, being right over the border in Cobalt Edge and connected to the RAZOR Alliance in Tenal by a jump gate.
Such was the setting on Friday night when, having finished Diablo III on normal mode, I was looking to do something besides clicky-click demon slaying. And, as if on cue, director bot on Jabber started announcing a strategic operation.
In exactly an hour from now Vily will be forming up an Alphafleet in VFK to destroy an IRC CSAA. We will be destroying a supercap fetus.
– NC. and IRC both have ops posted.
– VILY IS ON COCAINE.
100% CHANCE OF FIGHT – IT’S GOING TO BE A BLOODBATH.
Get your ships ready to go and be ready to join fleet when we broadcast.
I had not been in a fleet operation for ages, not since Dabigredboat lead us down to BWF-ZZ to kill Raiden super caps. And a fleet op seemed like the answer to my quest for something different.
The op was starting a bit late, 10pm Pacific time (yeah, yeah, I’m old), but it was Friday night on a long weekend with no plans until Sunday. So I got on, got to VFK, and started looking at what ship I ought to take. Basically, I could choose a Scimitar, though I would have to buy a new one since my last one got popped in the Venal ops, a Drake, which I was favoring since I really wanted to see a fleet missile engagement, or a Maelstrom, which is the backbone of the Alpha Fleet doctrine and which would be the primary actors in this operation.
My bias was towards the Drake and the new missile effects, but it started to sound like we might not have enough pilots for both an Alpha and a Drake fleet despite the “100% CHANCE OF FIGHT.” The pessimists no doubt saw that as the biggest sign that there would not be one. Anyway, there was a push to get everybody into Alpha Fleet, so I got out my Maelstrom and joined up at on of the more aptly named towers in our space.
Even Dabigredboat joined Alpha Fleet in a Scimitar. Then it turned out that we had too many people… and DBRB was somehow already annoying the logistics people… and so he went back to running the Drake fleet to support us.
Then it was the jump bridge out to a waiting titan which in turn sent us to Venal where we started a 17 jump burn through Oasa to Cobalt Edge and our final destination at YVSL-2. We were harried throughout the run into the system and during the actual destruction by an IRC bomber fleet, though they were not that effective. In the continuum between Mister Vee and “The TEST bomber fleet just bombed the CFC Welp Fleet,” their effectiveness was certainly not at the Mister Vee end of things.
The highlight was probably when the Panther black ops battleship that was bringing in the IRC bombers managed to get itself squeezed into jumping into YVSL-2 with us, where it was promptly destroyed. That killed off a billion ISK ship and some of IRC’s tactical flexibility.
While we were killing the Panther and starting in on the guns surrounding the target station, news came through that DBRB was in trouble, having gone after a combined Black Legion and Northern Coalition fleet. Afterwards, it wasn’t clear whether DBRB’s entire fleet got wiped out, or if one ship actually escaped. A good night to have avoided Drake fleet.
Taking the station guns offline was a fairly straightforward affair, helped along by the IRC gunners who seemed to think the best plan was to shoot at the most expensive, most heavily tanked ships in our fleet. So rather than the 6,000 effective hit point Tornado, they went after Lazarus Telraven’s Machariel instead, making little impact. (Hey, I hear SynCaine has a Macharial BPC for sale.)
Once the guns were down there, we did flit about the system a bit as IRC sent some more bombers at us. Again, it was to little effect, though one bomb did come in contact with the station shield. That causes bombs to become bugged, and they just keep traveling in a straight line, never to explode from that point forward, turning the bomb from a weapon with a 30km range into an unmanned space probe. And so there was one bomb on our overviews that was slowly traveling away from us.
I think the last time I saw it, it was past the 2,000 km point on the overview.
Vily then got us arrayed in a sphere around the station as the reinforcement timer ticked down the last few minutes to the shoot.
Using a rather clever method involving interceptors, we ended up spread out all around the station, so even if IRC got a good bomber run at us, it would at best take out a couple of ships.
And then the shoot began.
Aside from the new missile effects, it was like any other POS shoot. I think you can see one of the new missile explosions on the tower. We circled and shot and eventually wore it down and it went boom. And then, very quickly thereafter… so fast that I had not finished targeting… the CSAA exploded in a ball of flame as well. Much to our disappointment, the updated kill reports that came with the Inferno expansion did not indicate what, if anything, IRC was building in this CSAA. There might have been a titan in there. Or it might have been empty. The discussion I have seen varies between IRC being completely inept and losing a titan to the whole thing being bait.
IRC sent in a few more bombers piecemeal as the station was coming down, but they fared no better than previous attacks.
Then the word came through that IRC was threatening to get their act together and show up in force while the Northern Coalition fleet was approaching from the other direction. It was time to go home.
And then began the long and fruitless running battle back to the titan.
The fleets facing each other were mis-matched in capabilities, and so each fleet devoted its efforts to arranging an engagement that would favor its specific strengths while exploiting the opponents weaknesses. It was like a game of chess played over four different systems for about an hour. And if you think watching a game of chess is boring… well, I think it is boring… try being a pawn in a chess game.
Vily was trying hard, but he had a few things working against him.
First, some people in the fleet were having connection issues. A few people in the fleet were getting disconnected after every gate jump, and we were trying not to leave any easy kills behind. So there was a delay with that.
Then, every time the fleet jumped through a gate, we would put the system of origin into about 60% TiDi, slowing the move between systems quite a bit. We were trying to squeeze a 200 ship fleet through a small tube, and so any plan to jump through a gate and take up a position of advantage was thwarted by the fact that a fleet gate jump operation was taking several minutes with TiDi and disconnects.
Finally, Vily seemed to be convinced… correctly for all I know… that we had a spy in our fleet feeding data directly to the NC fleet commander. And so he spent some time telling us we were doing one thing and the warping us off elsewhere. This nearly gave me a heart attack at one point. He had warped us to a gate and told us to disperse around the gate and hold, and then he fleet warped us to another gate. My ship just happened to be aligned to that gate. So I warped off first and, from my momentary perspective, alone to the other gate. While I was trying to figure out how I screwed up, the rest of the fleet started landing around me.
Eventually, with only an exchanged of single kills due to stragglers or mistakes, Vily turned us back toward Venal and the titan bridge home.
From there it was back to VFK where it looked like most of us were going to log off.
The main goal of the op, to destroy the IRC CSAA at YVSL-2 was a success. There was, in fact, a bloodbath. It just involved the 60 ship Drake fleet getting destroyed. IRC took a few inept swings at the Alpha Fleet and, while they eventually took out that lightly tanked Tornado, on the whole we returned home with about the same fleet with which we left.
I did get to see some of the new missile animations, though I still want to see a Drake Fleet broadside in action. I also got a few kills on my kill board for May so my corp and alliance don’t think I am a complete slacker. And I managed to get some video of missiles which I might put together into another short video with another inexplicable sound track.