Friday, 9 December 2016

Tuskers v P-A-T-R-I-O-T-S

They came looking for us.

Two battleships - a Machariel and an Armageddon - as well as a couple of lighter vessels (including two Blackbirds) were camping the k-space side of our null sec static. This was a major hazard to navigation, and a response was required.

Going in to the fight, we knew it would be pretty bloody. When battleships support each other, many of their weaknesses disappear, and there is no better class of sub-capital for fighting on a fixed point, such as a wormhole or a gate. On top of that, well, Blackbirds.

Forming up, the initial plan was to throw up a bubble and then fight on the wormhole. This way, our heavily tanked cruisers could try to jump back through the hole and save themselves if they got into trouble. That worked for about the first 15 seconds.

The battleships started burning away from the hole, and out of the bubble. Using their excellent range, they forced us to follow them to keep the pressure up, while they screened the more vulnerable support ships.

With their battleships absorbing massive amounts of damage, and with their Blackbirds constantly trying to jam us, their Gila was wreaking havoc on the heavy tackle went sent in to keep the Machariel locked down.

The Machariel was called as primary, and thanks to the ECM I suspect most of us had to rely on our drones to finally take him own. A real strength of the Gila, there. With their screen of battleships broken, we were able to get through to one of the Blackbirds. When their Gila and Hurricane tried to patch the hole, they went down too.

With the brawl quickly turning into a route, the Armageddon and remaining Blackbird warped away. You can read the battle summary here, and while we came out ahead in ships lost and ISK destroyed, it was a hard fight with the enemy out classing us in terms of ships and support, and having the luxury of choosing when and where they fought.

This fight was a great example of why I need to get into a battleship at some point. Being able to sit our own battleship on the hole to provide supporting fire would have been a huge help.

The PATRIOTS decided they were not finished, though, and brought in two carriers to camp our wormhole.

Calling for reinforcements, we sallied forth a second time. Bubbling their Archon, we started working on grinding through his tank as we all tried not to die to fighters.

This second fight was about 180km off the hole, so by staying aligned to the hole I could warp out if I started taking damage, and then warp back to the fleet. I had just done this for the second time when our Scimitar pilot flagged up that I had come out of warp too far away for effective reps. Have I mentioned how awesome our Scimitar pilots are? So on the ball.

Accordingly, I turned and burned towards the Scimitar. At the same time, the Archon, who realised that he was going down if nothing changed, lit a cyno. Three super-capitals landed on grid, along with a number of support ships.

The FC immediately ordered us out, and I started spamming 'warp' as soon as I heard the order. But I was temporarily unaligned, and with my mwd in mid cycle my alignment time was poor. I was also very easy to lock. As everyone else was leaving grid, their Stiletto landed a warp disruptor on me.

I immediately overheated my mwd and tried burning back towards the hole (which is where I had been trying to warp to), but with three super-carriers on grid and no other targets for them, I was never going to make it.

I didn't.


The PATRIOTS puzzle me. First, they brought battleships to a cruiser fight. When that didn't work, they brought carriers to a cruiser fight. And when that didn't work, they brought super-carriers to a cruiser fight.

I just don't see the fun in that. And I kinda assume that fun was the point. After all, this was not a rescue mission. We hadn't trapped a Roqual at a belt, or a ratting carrier. In those circumstances, bringing the cavalry makes sense. You are making a point of protecting your own.

But these guys came looking for a fight. And then escalated to the point that there was no fight any more. Other than catching me before I could warp off, the fight simply evaporated once the super-carriers landed.

On a more personal note, though, I think I'm getting better at flying this Gila. As much as I hate any loss, I do recognize that if the cyno had gone up 10 seconds later, I'd have been near the Scimitar, mwd off, and realigned. I would have warped away with everyone else. Sometimes the timing just doesn't work out.

That does not mean there is no room for improvement, though. Clearly, I chose my warp-in poorly. While you sometimes can't help this, I was warping around on grid, so if I had been a little less hasty in getting back to the fight, I could have looked at the vector lines of my fleet mates. If I had done that, I could have chosen my warp in to take into consideration the movement of the fleet while I was in warp. Essentially, I could have warped to the leading edge of the fleet instead of what turned out to be the trailing edge, forcing me to play catchup.

But I felt a lot more confident about holding range in both fights, and I had a better sense of when I was in danger and when I was not. While I will undoubtedly mess up many, many more times, some of the basic elements of fleet work are coming more smoothly than they were.

Now that I've said that, of course, I won't be surprised when I screw up something incredibly basic in my next engagement. Because that's how I seem to roll.

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