Monday, 27 October 2014

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Even for a Sunday night, comms were pretty quiet. It was a stark contrast to a couple of nights before which yielded retrospective comments about recording TS for CCP’s advert made up of player videos and comms sound-bites as well as remarks like “Jay, when are you taking your comedy show on the road?”. I got a slight feeling that Ari meant it with an air of facetiousness but I gladly took it at face value. Things were practically silent by comparison. The kind of lull that clearly indicated that people were scanning.

Sherpa> Anyone interested in some gas?
Time passes…
Sherpa> Anyone there?
Jay> Yeah, just no one interested in gas.
Gabriela> Guys, there’s a ton of wrecks on scan here

With only a couple of guys logged in, I wasn’t too worried about what might be ratting a C4 WH 6 jumps out of our home system, until Gab managed to get eyes on their fleet. It was a recently made alliance called Random Thinking and they were fielding 2 Rattlesnakes, a Raven Navy Issue, Hurricane and a Tengu with a Basilisk pair supporting. It certainly looked a hefty fleet that could dish out a lot of hurt and that was backed up by the speed they were rinsing through the anomalies. The pokes went out and the 4 guys who were on comms initially were joined on the static by a few others to resemble something that looked a bit like a fleet. 3 Proteus’, Loki, Armageddon, Phobos and Eos with our own Guardians to match the Basilisks.

I moved the fleet with best speed along the chain and got within 2 jumps of the target C4 when their fleet warped out of the uncompleted site and D-scan range of our scout. Despite the setback, the fleet continued to move and we waited on the WH to the C4. There was still no sign of Random Thinking except for a Harpy and a Noctis. The Noctis was salvaging a despawned site we had no bookmark to. The movements of the Harpy and the lack of a Random Thinking POS in the system suggested that they had come in from a K162. How focused their fleet was for clearing C4 sites suggested they were also from a C4, so I recommended to the scout that he probe for a C4 connection, allowing us to park the Phobos on the hole to interdict the Noctis. Sadly, the plan stumbled at the first hurdle as Oddic interjected his opinion about just scanning the Noctis, which just confused our poor scout, who dropped combat probes. Suddenly the Noctis wasn’t on Dscan anymore, but a few minutes later our scout had indeed found a K162 to a C4 that had reached mass stage 2 (possibly from having Battleships jumping in and out?).

While waiting in the C2, we caught an activation from the C4. A scanning frigate from I'm Stuck in here evaded us while we waited for the larger targets from Random Thinking. Quickly checking the pilot’s bio revealed a proudly displayed German flag and Random Thinking did seem at a glance, also German. It could have been a coincidence, but if it wasn’t, the game was up and we were sat in the middle of space with our arses hanging in the breeze. The fleet was moved to a highsec connected to the C2 and leaving the Phobos cloaked on the hole to their system while our scout got eyes on their ships. Scanning frigates and stealth bombers seemed to be warping in an out of their POS, but it confirmed that the second C4 was indeed their home system.

At about half an hour from when we first moved out, we were joined by Athanor’s Guardian and Utari’s Loki and Tengu as Random Thinking seemed to be logging in reinforcements in the shape of a Bhaalgorn and a Legion. The way I saw things, people buy ships like that in order to violence other people’s boats, so it would have been remiss of me to not provide them with boats to violence. I asked Sherpa how he felt about being bait. The response wasn’t hugely positive, but was an affirmation nonetheless! Once again Oddic piped up about not showing them our hand and not using a ship as scary as a Proteus, but was summarily ignored.

I joined Sherpa in dangling our ships on the end of a proverbial hook on the hole inside their system, conveniently in Dscan range from the Random Thinking POS. I could see Oddic’s reservations about my gambit, but backseat FC’s are a pet hate of mine. Step up from the get go or STFU. My assessment of the situation was that they would use their PvP ships given a favourable chance and that would be more enjoyable for all parties than ganking a single Noctis, which is all we would likely get if we continued to wait –and that was if we were lucky. At this point I was well aware that the fleet had been out for 45 minutes and not only would attention be waning, and so would willingness to stay.

Another 5 minutes passed and the armour ships had gone from Dscan to be replaced by Tengu’s and a couple of Basilisks.

Sherpa> They’re just going to warp in a range and shoot us from there. There won’t be a fight.
William> Yeah. We won’t be able to catch those Tengu’s
Jay> This is unacceptable. You guys need to stop with the negative waves. They are going to warp to zero on the wormhole where we can wipe the floor with them and that’ll be the end of it. Always bet on stupid!

It might have seemed an overly optimistic appraisal of the situation, but it did seem the likeliest scenario to me. I know even with heavy assault missiles Tengu’s have decent range, but engaging us at distance while we were on a WH would be a waste of effort. If it looked like they were gaining the upper hand, we could quit the field unmolested. Another 5 minutes and no fight was forthcoming. I said to the fleet we’d give these guys a couple more minutes and see if they respond to local.

Jay Joringer > No fight?
Phtal > we come 1 min

A few minutes of linking provocative gifs in local elapse before I am issued a reminder;

Oknos> It’s been more than 1 minute

The mainstay of the fleet was waiting on the other side of the C4. As the hour mark approached, Oknos joked about how making us wait might be part of their strategy, lulling us into boredom and complacency. To that end, it had worked and it showed when Stuck in here reappeared. A Cerberus appeared at the fleet location, which I noticed on my second screen. As it jumped into the C4, I barked orders for the fleet to jump and tackle it only to be met with replies of ‘huh?’. The slow locking Eos was on its own with no point, helplessly watching the Cerberus warp away – towards what looked like Random Thinking’s home C4. More Cerberi jumped through with an Onyx and this time my fleet followed them, but none could lock fast enough to get tackle.

As they warped, the scout called that Random Thinking were aligning. Dscan showed they had bolstered their fleet with more Tengu’s and a total of 4 Basilisks. They warped to where Sherpa and I were waiting along with Oknos’ Phobos which had deployed an interdiction bubble in anticipation of Stuck in here’s ships arriving from the connecting C4. Galmas logged in just as Random Thinking landed on grid and began to engage, where they were joined by Stuck in here. He announced he was bringing a Proteus and an Armageddon – a combination made all the more interesting by the fact that the USYSC fleet jumping in put the hole on the verge of collapse.

As predicted, the Tengu’s closed range on us, but despite being in optimal range, or even close falloff, they were always going to be tough to break without disrupting the Basilisks, some of which were out at 90km. Switching to the Cerberi proved far more fruitful. 2 of them went down before the Onyx and the remaining Cerberus retreated. Breaking the logi chain for long enough to put a Tengu down was proving difficult. Their own EWAR (courtesy of a Falcon) was causing havoc among our own Guardians. Not enough for them not to be able to keep our ships up, but their capacitor resevoirs  were teetering on the edge of ineffectiveness, meaning that there was none to spare for our neuting ships. The Falcon itself was hovering just outside of drone range from my Eos. I switched the damps from the Eos over the Falcon, hoping to entice him a little bit closer. I wasn’t disappointed and set a pair of Gecko’s to work. The fleet had noticed how close the Falcon was now, but its buffer tank was negligible and it looked like the Basilisks had their attention elsewhere.

The collapse of the wormhole heralded Galmas’ arrival, ending the Tengu’s being able to escape through the hole on low shields and adding more neuting and damping power to our fleet. The balance was beginning to tip in our favour and Random Thinking’s woes were compounded when we seized on the mistake that one of their Basilisks made by drifting too close.  Their fleet began their rout and we managed to hold 2 Tengus and a Basilisk from escaping. In my books, it was all worth waiting for and a fight is always going to be more fun than a gank. Well done to Random Thinking and co for showing some bottle. I’m sure WH space will be hearing more about those guys in the future.

As for us – we were scanning ourselves an exit. Having waited around for an hour before the fight, people were eager to log off (got to love work days, eh?).

William> Where do you think they went wrong?
Jay>  I think it was all down to our FC in getting them to engage in the first place, and from there…
Sherpa>  You think all that smacktalk put them off, do you?
Jay> Well, that and our superior tactics also.

In truth, I think the mistake was trying to brawl a brawling fleet (and I was humble enough to concede this over comms). While I admire their willingness to try something different, they seem to have cut a lot of versatility from their fleet in lieu of advantages that were not exploited. But WH fleet compositions is something I could rant about until the cows come home, so perhaps another time.

While our dissecting of events continued, our scanner had found us a lowsec through a connecting C3. Derelik was an area I knew pretty well and wasn’t too worried about leading a fleet to somewhere that people could safely log off. Plotting a course, I could see the system adjacent to the one connected to the C3 was Jayneleb and couldn’t help but smile to myself.

Jay> Fantastic… Fleet jump and align J-A-Y