Wednesday, 17 October 2012
Tuskers v Null Sec
As promised, I've got some Arbitrator fleet engagements to write about. I won't go into every last movement of the fleet, but I will focus on the parts where I feel learning points arise. If my recollection of these events is a little fuzzy, it's because I did not FRAPS it - I'm not risking a DC when I've got corp-mates counting on me.
There were about a dozen of us, mostly in armor HACs, but with me flying an Arbitrator, and two logi to back us up. I'd just grabbed something from the corp hanger, and it mostly consisted of a strong buffer tank, a prop mod and three TDs. Very much an unfinished fit.
We had taken down the occasional BC that had wandered into us, but we had yet to really find a proper target. However, our scouts were telling us that this was about to change, and that there was an enemy gang in our path; numerous BCs backed up by several Guardians. While I am unclear on the number of Guardians (I think it was about four), it was clear from the initial report that we probably lacked the dps to break the logi chain, and most of our pilots had brought dps drones rather than ewar drones, leaving us little chance of breaking their lock with ewar.
Still, it sounded like a fun fight. They outnumbered us, although not by too much, and they had heavier ships. Positioning would be key, and so we warped to gate, putting the HACs in close and the logi further back (for positioning purposes, the Arbitrator is a logi). When they jumped through, the HACs would brawl it up, and keep the BCs locked down and unable to hit the logi. Their logi, on the other hand, would have to sit in the middle of the fight.
Honestly, we have some really good FCs in the Tuskers, and the plan sounded really solid. However, it was dependent on the enemy jumping into us, confident of their weight in ships and pilots. It turns out, though, that for some reason the gang decided not to jump into our cunningly laid battleground.
Realising that we would have to take the fight to them, we all approached and jumped through the gate. They clearly had eyes on us, however, because they immediately sprang their own ambush, warping to the gate as soon as we jumped through.
Fortunately, we have members in corp who compulsively spam their Dscan, and so we saw them coming before they started landing on grid. Acting fast, Sule ordered us to jump to a particular belt at range, and we managed to all get off the gate before they could land and point anyone.
On landing at the belt, the logi and ewar (ie, me), immediately burned straight up, putting as much distance as we could between ourselves and the landing point. When the enemy fleet followed us to the belt, they landed among the HACs, with the logi again at a distance. Although it had required some quick thinking and fancy footwork, our original plan was intact.
What followed was a massive brawl. I piloted around the fight at about 60km, always aligned to something, and kept two Hurricanes and a Vigilant pinned down by reducing their optimal and falloff by about 80%. I like to think that at least one of them tossed their keyboard across the room in frustration.
Our logi pilots were brilliant, largely keeping the fleet in one piece, except for poor Dian, who was primary when a Falcon uncloaked and disrupted our rep chain temporarily. It cost them the Falcon, though.
Beyond that, the fight was a bit of a stalemate. We tried switching our dps around, but their Guardians were able to keep up. Similarly, our own Oneiros, combined with the dps hit they were taking from my TDs, were enough to counter their damage. We probably would have pulled out, but they had a few of our own tackled, and we don't like to leave people behind if we can help it. So we stayed.
Eventually, a third party lit a cyno, and we found ourselves hot dropped. Everyone scattered, and nearly all Tuskers got away. The other side was less fortunate, and we scored some killmails that we would otherwise have missed.
Bidding them all a "gf" (they'd fought smart and willingly engaged us in a belt, after all), we turned for home.
I completely accept that this was a very easy first fight for me as a new ewar pilot - which is exactly what I needed. Nobody tried to kill me, and I was able to focus on maneuver and ewar without distraction.
What I saw, I really liked. I looked at the enemy fleet with completely new eyes - as a tackler, you are just trying to stay alive while pinning down the primary. This is almost the definition of tunnel vision. As ewar, I'm looking for the strongest members of the enemy fleet, and trying to take them out of the fight. It was great fun.
However, it also gave me a chance to find some of the limitations to the Arbitrator. To begin with, my TDs have a much longer range than my actual ship does. I would have liked to hang out with the Oneiros, so we could offer mutual protection to each other from drones and interceptors (alright, so I could protect them while they keep me topped up), but that was not possible. My targeting skills are maxed out, and both my low and mid slots are spoken for. Getting more targeting range with therefore involve rigging, and I'll be putting together a dedicated fleet fit soon.
In the high slots, range mods for my drones seems sensible. Fleet fights often require me to warp and short notice, so while I carried a range of drones when flying solo, I feel like I want to carry multiples of only a few kinds of drone, and probably small drones at that - the larger ones spend a lot of time traveling between targets, and I can carry fewer of them.
On that note, it seems like a mix of Warriors (fast), ECM, and repair drones would be best. I know repair drones are not great, but as a frigate pilot I know that there are some targets that need topping up that logis don't have time for. And, as this fight taught me, sometimes the logis can't help. Perhaps those drones would make a difference. Something I'll have to test.