This past weekend the Tuskers were under one of those periodic wardecs that the high sec corps hope will allow them to snag a hauler or two, so when I lost my Asteros, I did not want to offer them a target by shopping for a new one.
True, I could have grabbed one of my alts, but we were only about 12 hours from the end of the war. Instead, I jumped into my travel interceptor, and went to Chaos for a bit of a holiday.
I arrived in time to tangle with Pureblind Cartel. About half an hour earlier, one of my corp-mates had tackled their carrier. Although the carrier had managed to get away, the locals wanted to teach us some kind of lesson, which we welcomed, obviously. I jumped into my Secret Santa Phantasm for the fight, as it's fast become my favourite ship for cruiser fleets.
They were warping into our wormhole at range with some kind of Caracal doctrine. Caracals are cheap, tanky, and have amazing burst dps and damage projection, so that totally makes sense. However, we had the advantage of fighting on our wormhole, meaning we could just jump damaged ships through the hole to prevent loss.
The counter tactic was to try and pull us off the hole by extending their range further and further - something the Caracal excels at. Tusker fleets are notoriously hard to deal with in the absence of overwhelming numbers, though, as every pilot is operating fairly independently under the loose guidance of some of the best FCs in New Eden.
Hoodie jumped his Machariel through the wormhole to anchor the fleet and provide supporting fire that the Caracal's just couldn't counter. The shorter ranged ships moved in and then danced away, luring the Caracals back towards the wormhole as they tried to maintain dps on a given ship long enough to destroy it, while our Scimitar made sure that didn't happen.
Suleiman, in particular, dangled his 'nearly dead' Onyx in front of them for quite some time. Since we were pretty sure they were going to get him, I'm certain they thought it was in the bag too. But Bob smiled on our CEO, and he escaped with hull (mostly) intact.
With a 70+ km range, I mostly hung back applying dps to whomever was called primary, while being in a position to knock out tacklers trying pin down any of the ships nearer to the line of battle.
The result was a crushing victory for us, and 'gfs' were exchanged in local.
Having run a Machariel through the hole a couple of times, we decided to roll it rather than risk someone getting stuck on the other side. This took us to Impass, where some enthusiastic interdictor pilot immediately tackled two Roquals.
I reshipped into an Oracle, because this kind of fight calls for more dps than the Phantasm can manage, and the fleet warped into the fight. Circle of Two, however, are battle hardened veterans, and they are used to fighting on a scale that we just can't match. We destroyed the early responders, but then local jumped by over 100 as their real response fleet landed.
The call was to finish up the Falcon and get out. Unfortunately, a very aggressive Taranis managed to point me just as the Falcon went down. With half our fleet already in warp, there was not enough support left on grid to free me. Trading an Oracle for Falcon was the right call, though, especially when you take into account the difference in insurance treatment of the two hulls. That made the first engagement a net win for us.
Not content to drive us off, Circle of Two followed us back into Chaos, where the balance of power quickly shifted. Without their capitals, and without the ability to drop on us at zero, they were forced to chase us. I had jumped into another Oracle, and rejoined the fleet. This was a reversal of our earlier fight; they were on the wormhole, and we were luring them off.
They responded by sending light ships to try and tackle us or provide a warp-in for the heavier ships. This meant that we needed to be careful how far away we got from the wormhole, and we also needed to hit tacklers (and wrecks) fast as anything that could be warped to was a potential threat. In the end, they couldn't make anything stick, and they went home empty handed.
This second fight was very nearly a flawless victory. Unfortunately, Jaxley got a bad warp-in, and he lost an Orthrus. So from an ISK perspective, the second engagement was a net loss for us.
Having been the victim of a bad warp-in myself, I certainly feel for Jaxley. Even if you are given a 'safe' warp-in, you don't actually land for a good 30+ seconds, and a great deal can change in that time. You land alone, and often too far from your allies to be supported. Warping to reinforce a fleet is often one of the most dangerous parts of the fight.
It was great to fly with the corp again. Fleet actions will never be my main thing, but they make a nice change of pace.
I'm slowly getting to the point where I can 'see' what the fleet is doing, and how the fight is progressing, rather than just having a confusing blob on my overview. I'm also finding my preferred role in fleet fights; I love flying long ranged anti-tackle/dps ships, like the Phantasm or the Oracle, but not the short ranged heavy tackle/dps, like the Gila. Too much 'eye of the storm' going on there, and I'm still not interpreting fleet movements fast enough to be able to do that properly.