February 1, 2010

The Snowball Effect

Today I logged on early afternoon hoping to get some ratting in for an hour and make some security status. Didn't happen. Roaming fleet was forming up in NOL, and I couldn't resist. So I grabbed my Falcon and headed down to NOL from Y-2. I caught up with fleet in time for them to hit the ratting pocket, see there were no targets, and turn around. The 4 man ceptor gang had now grown to a mixed fleet about 15 in size.

At this point intel came in of a 25 man RR bs gang coming in from Sakht. They headed up a dead end pipe into ZA9. We formed up in NOL for our own RR bs with logistics and Ewar support. I burned up the pipe to get us intel on the enemy fleet, which had POSed up at this point. We got reports of pods coming out of the pipe, apparently there was some fighting going on in there, but with who? At this point I took over fleet with one of my corpmates, as it was clear we needed to get things rolling. I kept asking for intel but was getting nowhere. Our fleet swelled in size as people jumped onboard for the chance to smash the hostile gang.

Then a conversation window popped open from one of our allies in Quarantine Zone. He proceeded to tell me that ten of his bs and two of his carriers had been hitting an offline Pandemic Legion tower in the system when the PL battleship gang came in. They had fought, and now both parties were safed up. He also told me the gang was NOT rr and didn't seem too coordinated.

This changed things quite a bit. I got my eyes in system and sat 10k off the enemy POS. Watching their fleet, I calculated what would go down in what order. They had 5 dominix, a Scorpion, 4 Raven's, 2 Geddons, a few Apocs, a few Megas, and 2 Tempests. They were just sitting in the POS, waiting for their Rapier scout to work his way up to1-Smeb and tell them it was clear to run back to low sec. We got everyone into Q-H on the 1-Smeb gate. This was important for two reasons:
1. The Q-H gate in 1-Smeb was very short warp to the M5 gate (which is a pipe to the dead end ZA9).
2. PL had scouts in 1-Smeb that would scream the moment local spiked.
3. We were still waiting for stragglers to catch up from NOL.

The fleet was still forming up when the PL fleet started aligning to the gate in ZA9. We had a cloaky dictor in M5 on the 1-Smeb gate, as well as a dictor in 1-Smeb cloaked up off the M5 gate. I watched as the fleet reached full speed... and then they warped. "Alright fleet be at 0 on the 1-Smeb gate, enemy fleet is moving". Local dropped, and I warped to the M5 gate and jumped. Sure enough, their fleet was all around me, and took off right as I loaded grid. I warped to the 1-Smeb gate, on the way there local dropped. "Fleet is entering 1-Smeb" Vampiress announced. "Fleet jump 1-Smeb warp to M5 gate gogogo!' I barked into comms. Vampiress dropped bubbles and ran for his life, while my fleet made the short warp from Q-H gate to M5 gate. I started calling primaries, going for the Scorpion first. Unfortunately, our bubbling wasn't quite what we would have wanted and we only got 6 of their bs. Geddon, Raven, Geddon, Tempest, Raven, and Domi. On a happier note, we took no losses. My Falcon only took 1 volley from one of the Raven's before I jammed him up.

The enemy fleet fled to low sec, so we hit their POS. The POS only had 3 warp disruption batteries on it, with 4 large, 4 med, and 4 small auto cannon batteries. We took out the warp disruptors, then the guns. We left the POS for this week, as it had hardeners on it. Those would have made taking it down an eternity with the 50bs we had. Dreads in siege, maybe ten minutes. Tops.

Took the fleet back to NOL, re shipped and proceeded to camp Pr- for an hour. Got a Rapier, nailed a Rifter and a Cerb, but other than those it was slim pickings. So we went for a roam over to Querious. After 30 min of roaming and no targets (Goons just didn't want to play today), we got word of a Brick Squad gang in the area. We moved to intercept. Holding on the Pr- gate in IDH, with the Brick Squad gang next door on the FW gate, we jumped in to engage. Intelligence had told of a Brick Squad gang 25 strong mainly frigates. Our fleet had 30 in it scattered in Pr-. What happened was not what I had intended when I made the decision to engage.

Landing on the FW gate in Pr- I failed to load grid for 15 seconds. During this time I had to ask someone else to call targets as I could not. Upon loading grid I had damage to my ship (which was a Crow) and immediately died, the only thing I got off a shot on what was an Ares which had me locked. The Ares ended up dying but so did several of our fleet, including my Crow. The order to pull back was given and the fleet re formed. At this point I had to leave (duty called :) I handed over the reigns to another FC and didn't get on till later tonight.  As I reflected on why our fleet failed, I narrowed it down to two big reasons. The first was fail intel. "90% frigs" was reported in intel. That was complete bs. As you can see looking at my killmail there was certainly other ships involved, including T3, T2, and larger T1 ships. The second huge reason was my  fleet was not 100% active. Many pilots had been joining gang because of the Brick Squad gang in system, but were not ready to fight, not on comms or just afk. We should have re formed before engaging, as our fleet size was not an accurate representation of our active pilots. Those two factors led to a fail engagement. Overall, still a succesful day.

Now I find myself lighting cynos all over Fountain for our logistics guys, to pick up moon goo and fuel towers. Joy. As the title goes, don't ever understimate how rapidly things will grow. Small gangs can become multi alliance fleets in a heartbeat.

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