Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Our null sec static led directly to a system with a Citadel going into vulnerability, so we decided to try and provoke a fight by bashing it.
Because of the force multiplying powers of the Citadel, the doctrine for the evening was heavy shield dps backed up a Scimitar, so I chose to fly a Gila. The locals quickly formed up, and the two fleets began engaging.
The locals played things well, and played them cautiously. It must have been clear to them that we were not set up to bash the Citadel efficiently, so all they needed to do was keep us busy enough that we either gave up or the vulnerability timer closed. Between their caution, and their Scimitar, we were not able to force a decisive engagement.
So the call came down to 'approach recklessly'. Not the clearest of commands, to be sure, but we understood the general intention; get close enough to lock them down.
Fleet fights are a funny thing. You are often asked to do things that will probably get you killed. This makes you want to hang back a little; after all, while the first guy to break cloak/get close/whatever will probably die, the third or forth guy to do that have a much higher chance of surviving. But if enough people hang back, the whole things starts to unravel and you have a much higher chance of everybody going home in a pod.
What is true of fleets in Eve is equally true in the real world military, which is why the penalties for disobeying orders are so draconian. The commander has to know that when he orders an advance, everyone starts moving immediately.
And, of course, insufficient enthusiasm in obeying the FC's commands has its own risks.
So I immediately turned and burned directly towards the enemy. Actually, that's not quite true; I burned it at a slight angle to make sure I had at least some transversal. Closing into about 20km - knife fighting range for a Tusker fleet - I began hammering the ships called as primary.
As fleet maneuvers went, this one was very successful; we destroyed roughly a dozen assorted cruisers and battlecrusiers. This kind of brawling comes at a cost, however, and in this case the cost was two Gilas (including mine) and a Phantasm.
Mine was not a quick loss. Our Scimitar kept me up as long as he could, meaning I absorbed 57k worth of damage, or nearly twice my EHP. Hungry for the 'almost there' kill, it kept the enemy on the field long enough for them to all be locked down. But destroying them took more time than I had.
Reshipping, we went back to bash the Citadel, but the locals were no longer interested. Instead, a larger predator arrived: Lazerhawks.
They outnumbered us heavily, at least initially, and had four Scimitars to our one. Calling for reinforcements, we managed to get a second Scimitar on the field, and some more dps. Unfortunately, the fight started in earnest before we could link up with all of those reinforcements.
This second fight really underscored some of the weaknesses of the Gila fit I'm in. While a fantastic ship, the Gila only has about a 40km range on it's RLML, whereas my ONI or Oracle comfortably projects dps out to 60km, which is where I tend to like fighting while in fleet. True, the drones can get out to about 60km, but you have significant travel time issues, and that's only half your dps any way.
The other issue is the RLML. Because of the number of enemy Scimitars, there was a lot of target switching going on. This really hurts when you have a 45 second reload time, plus travel time on both of your weapon systems.
Lazerhawks managed to drive us off the grid in our first exchange through sheer weight of numbers. Although it cost them dearly, by throwing a sufficient number of Sabres at us they managed to take out a Naga, and then my Gila when I was called primary. Again, our Scimitars did amazing work, letting me tank 67k worth of damage, but with four enemy Scimitars on the field we couldn't break their dps or heavy tackle fast enough to save me.
Reshipping took me a while because I had to wait until there was a clear run to our wormhole. Out of cash, I couldn't buy another Gila from corp contracts, so I jumped into my Osprey Navy Issue. By the time I caught back up with the fleet, it was over. Our FC managed to draw them into Chaos, and then into a connecting C5, which separated them long enough for us to kill two of their Scimitars. Without their massive logi advantage, my corp mates rolled them up.
This was my first time flying the Gila in combat, and I really liked it (I have a fondness for tanky ships). I think I need to fly more cautiously, though, and avoid being lured in too close by the relatively short range on the RLML. I may look at dropping some of the 'solo' fittings to see if I can come up with more of a dedicated fleet fit.
Although the Tuskers have a selection of ships (including the Gila) available on corp contracts at a reduced price, there is no true ship replacement program. Losing two Gilas in an evening was expensive, so I've dropped below 10 mil ISK. Fortunately, I now have revenue streams in place (such as PI) to help me bounce back, but it does mean flying cautiously for the next few days, until I can afford another Gila, and have a bit more of a cash buffer.