Archive for the Fleet Tactics Category

C-J Falls :: 2000+ Pilots Involved as Multiple Coalitions Clash

Posted in Against All Authorities, Eve History, Fleet Tactics, Mercs, North versus South, Pandemic Legion on March 7, 2012 by Easley Thames

Tonight the C-J station came out of its final reinforcement timer. The battle in this system was not only enjoyable by all accounts, but also provides clues about the future shape of the North-Eastern sovereignty map.

By the time of this battle, RA had already moved most of their assets out to low-sec, as part of their announced plan of relocating to Delve.

Furthermore, neither XxDeathXX nor RA had an operation planned to defend the system. If that were the end of the story, things would have been pretty boring tonight.

However, aware of a developing PL / NCdot plan to upset AAA and Solar’s night of conquest, AAA called out for a full “red pen” CTA.

Given the numbers arrayed against them, even the mighty Tech Cartel alliances would have thought-twice about engaging AAA tonight, but this time they ended up gaining critical support from an unlikely source.

Whether it was a revival of the “bro pact,” or merely an attempt to mount a formidable defense in the name of “good fights,” PL and NCdot were able to get the support of the same people who helped murder their super-carriers  last week.


That’s right. This time Goons + Test + other CFC alliances fought on PL and NCdot’s side.

Some are calling this a nostalgic return to the days of the “bro-pact” between Goonswarm and PL.  While the leaders of both alliances do chat regularly, I think this can be explained in other terms:

  • PL and TEST have already been in cooperation for quite some time as fellow “Honey Badgers.” Many in TEST look-up to PL and enjoy working with them.
  • Goon leaders – including The Mittani – have a long history of cooperation with Red Alliance and XxDeathxX. Red Alliance was a part of the Red Swarm Federation, along with Goons and TCF. Among other notable pro-goon actions, XxDeathxX played a major role in the successful “all-in” offensive on Delve in 2009 under the leadership of Darius Johnson by attempting to heroically guard the Eastern flank against Atlas & AAA.
  • Third, and most importantly, this was the only way a real fight could go down in the system tonight, and everyone agrees that fighting 1000 people is far more fun than not fighting anyone on a Tuesday night.

Evoke and some other pro-PL groups also made a modest showing, but the major balancing force against the A-Team was clearly the CFC tonight.

Some expected to see Raiden on the field, but cooperating with Goons would probably have been too much for them to stomach.

The following list is highly abridged, since I don’t want this image to be any longer, but the total numbers are roughly correct.

The Cluster-Fuck Coalition (CFC) was hit very hard on their jump-in to the system by Nulli Secunda, Occupational Hazard, The Initiative, and SOLAR. These alliances demolished the CFC drake fleet.

A large CFC bomber gang was able to skip past the gate-camp and get involved with the main-battle on the station, but their presence was a double-edged sword, since bombing runs were actually a hindrance to the “Slow Cat” sentry-drone doctrine being used by PL tonight.

Needless to say, the carnage was immediate, but with Time Dilation maxed out (all the way to 10% with 1900 in local) things took a while to resolve themselves.

To elaborate on the strategy used by PL and NCdot, Shadoo brought in a fleet of approximately 140 carriers filled entirely with sentry drones. Each carrier can hold hundreds at a time, so losing a few waves to bombing or anti-support fire is not an immediate ‘game-over’ situation.

PL’s plan was to fight on station so that they could de-aggro and dock if the fight got to messy.

The coordinated sentry fire was theorized to be a good counter to just about anything engaging at ranges up to 100km. This seems to have proven true, given that they successfully brought down several after-burner Tengus at long range.

The fighting was already well under-way when I logged into C-J with my  dictor. I had flown over and logged-out the night before in anticipation of this brawl, and luckily I arrived in time to participate in the bulk of the fighting on the station.

Sentries were fairly effective in popping -A- fleet ships with coordinated sentry fire, but bombs and support-ships killed hundreds of these t2 drones.

It was an expensive engagement for everyone, especially since PL and NCdot were stripped of literally every support ship in short order.

The destruction of all hostile support allowed AAA and Solar (among others) to drop super-carriers on the station with relative impunity.

PL may have been able to match or exceed the A-Team’s super-cap numbers, but tactically it would have been a colossal blunder without support.

NCdot and PL were forced to dock when the -A- and Solar supers cyno’d in.

To the credit of PL and NCdot, they were fast about calling for their carriers to pull in drones and de-aggro, so only one carrier was killed by supers.

Pictured Here: PL's "Slow Cat" Carrier Setup

I feel compelled to mention that this was one of the best showings from -A- in a long time, with 400 alliance members involved, including a strong super-cap showing.

The alliance had labeled this operation as extremely high-priority, so it is doubtful that AAA Russians and U.S. players will be together on the same field like this very often, but it was nice to see what we’re capable of when we really want something.

It shows that -A- has a great deal of dormant potential that can be dialed-up on occasion, especially when merging its two major timezone groups into a single operation.

In particular, the missile spam from AAA’s Tengus was immense. Including all friendlies, there were over 300 Tengus on the field.

Back when T3 cruisers were introduced, members of my corp joked about a day when an alliance could field a full fleet of these pimp-mobiles. It’s crazy to see those musings actually turn out to be descriptive of reality in 2012.

With no firewall to block the incoming waves of heavy missiles, even heavily-tanked (and low-signature) Proteus and Legion hulls were popped without difficulty.

As soon as PL and NCdot docked up their carriers in C-J, the station was flipped by AAA supers, and promptly handed over to Solar Fleet control.

This may hint at the future division of the North-Eastern regions. Even if most of Insmother is retained by AAA, I think flipping C-J sends a signal that -A- does not care about expanding much further North.

More importantly, this battle marks the culmination of the AAA – RA war. The end result is clear: RA has lost, and AAA has won.

There will be plenty of structures to grind, but the most action we can hope for will be fights with opportunistic groups like PL.  RA has already fled this hemisphere, and XxDeathXx seems to be increasingly inactive.

I believe that very soon Solar will be able to declare a similar victory over XxDeathXx, thereby ending the DRF Civil War, but Eve is an unpredictable place. I will not jump the gun until I see who XxDeathXx can bat-phone to save them from Solar and AAA.

Two major powers have apparently lost the will to fight, and will have to regroup elsewhere, while two others have earned new territory after a long-fought campaign. This is what 0.0 life in Eve is all about.

Pictured above is the aftermath of the fight on the C-J station.

For those who do not know, C-J is the long-treasured crown of Red Alliance’s once-vast empire.

This system holds the same nostalgia for RA members as NOL once held for BoB, and this is only the third time it has ever fallen.

My corp has now been present for all 3 conquests of C-J in this historic system’s long history.

In many ways, the real story here is the decline of the DRF as a coalition.

Sometimes small conflicts can snowball into absolute catastrophes. Such was the case when XxDeathxX pissed off Solar, by taking the side of a renter over their most powerful ally, in what began as a minor standings dispute.

With White Noise existing in name only, RA evacuating to Delve, XxDeathXx flailing with no clear plan for the future, and WTF left adrift with no master to guide it – the future indeed looks bleak for this formerly fearsome group.

I have mentioned it before on this blog, but the butterfly effect – as depicted by CCP’s marketing department – is a real phenomenon in this game. Even small decisions can have immense consequences, and I would bet my favorite hurricane that XxDeathXx’s leadership now regret the way they treated Solar.

The DRF civil war was likely preventable, and it is XxDeathxX’s leadership that is to blame for the coming Drone Region diaspora.

One last topic seems germane to this discussion, and I feel this post would be incomplete without it. That topic is the role of mercenaries in 0.0 sovereignty contests.

Mercenaries are a great asset. From the well-chronicled adventures of  Seleene’s Mercenary Coalition, to the current influence of Pandemic Legion, mercs can clearly tip the balance in 0.0 – sometimes with frightening effectiveness.

However, when you rely on mercs too much it can lead to atrophy within your coalition.  You need to flex your own muscles as an alliance on a regular basis, otherwise they will eventually turn to fat.

I believe RA, XIX, and many others who benefited from their presence in the Drone Regions have put too much confidence in their hired help.

Mercs can be a great tool in a variety of situations, but the evidence available suggests that they make bad long-term guardians of sovereignty.


Operation Etherium Reach-Around

Posted in Against All Authorities, Eve History, Fleet Tactics, Killboard Stats, Pandemic Legion on February 29, 2012 by Easley Thames

Not often does one see AAA’s coalition, The Cluster-fuck Coalition (CFC), and tons of random people from all over New Eden cooperating spontaneously.

Tonight, something magical happened in Etherium Reach. In AAA, we will forever remember this day fondly as “Operation Etherium Reach-Around.” It will come as a shock to no one that this name was chosen by eccentric Maverick Navy CEO Avicenna Sarfaraz.

At the outset, let me tip my hat to Mukk Barovian, Perseus Kallistratos, Makalu Zarya, and James Kordent. These four FCs really pulled a rabbit out of a hat tonight, in more ways than one.

Things started off with a relatively small-scale conflict between the DRF and AAA/Nulli in LXQ2-T, with XxDeathXx forming a dread and carrier fleet to kill a Stain Empire POS that was coming out of reinforced mode.

XxdeathXx added two titans to their POS-killing fleet, something that caused AAA spies to raise an eyebrow. Presumably, the XxDeathxX FC was eager to add more muscle to their rather unimpressive fleet of about a dozen carriers, half a dozen dreads, and a small support fleet hitting the Stain Empire PoS.

An Avatar and Erebus were on field when AAA showed up solo, with only 60 sub-caps, but the Avatar cyno’d out at the first sign of trouble. The Erebus was not so fortunate. Once he was tackled by AAA’s Oracle gang, Nulli rushed to support their allies with a swiftly-traveling Naga fleet.

XxDeathXx and Controlled Chaos warped in some additional carriers to repair the imperiled titan, but a very smart order by the AAA FC team lead to the placement of defensive bubbles that caused the carriers to land outside of repair range. This allowed a relatively small battle-cruiser fleet to wear down a titan with minimal interference by hostile remote repair.

The Erebus exploded too quickly for PL or NCdot to arrive. This was due in part to the fact that he was not fully tank fit. Approximately one minute after the titan died, the pro-DRF mercenaries showed up to save the day — or so they thought.

PL and NCdot had around 30 supers on the initial jump-in, with no support to speak of on field. This might seem like hubris to some, but PL’s reputation is often enough to protect them from serious challenges to their super-cap fleet.

Tonight, AAA decided NOT to leave the field when hostile supers landed. Instead, a small number of dictors did their best to hold down PL and NCdot super-caps, while calls for help went out across New Eden.

Some of the first AAA pilots on-field burned to a nearby low-system to trade their current ships for additional DICs and HICs. There was a tense atmosphere, but everyone realized the potential for something special to unfold here. Everyone moved with a sense of urgency.

At one point, PL and NCdot were able to free up the majority of their super-cap fleet. They took this chance to warp out. However, a well-timed bubble by AAA FC James Kordent caught a single Aeon seconds before it entered warp.

To their credit, PL and NCdot decided to come back for their stranded comrade, but this decision would eventually cost them dearly. From the moment that the XxDeathXx titan was tackled, forces across the galaxy had been massing.

Reinforcements from every AAA ally were on the way, not to mention the hordes of neutral alliances who just wanted a chance to appear on the kill-mails.

It took some rather dynamic bubbling by AAA dictors to keep the supers bubbled. In particular, MVN FCs James Kordent and Perseus Kallistratos pulled off some impressive feats in the domain of interdiction. Together they used a combined 160 bubbles before help arrived.

Our brave dictor pilots nearly died on multiple occasions. The AAA, Nulli, and  CONDI logistics pilots deserve a huge amount of credit for saving them both repeatedly.

When I personally landed on-field in my Heretic, along with other reinforcements, the situation was still in flux. No one knew for sure which neutrals were going to help PL and which had come merely to pile-on the tackled supers.

Neutrals from dozens of alliances were showing up. Many were bombing the field indiscriminately. TEST’s tornado fleet was firing at both sides of the conflict, while most of the other Clusterfuck members seemed to be focusing primarily on PL and NCdot (though by no means exclusively so).

However, despite the chaos. NCdot and PL supers were now completely covered in bubbles, and they started dieing one-by-one. They deserve recognition for choosing to go down fighting instead of initiating self-destruct. PL and NCdot have a good tradition in this respect, and I wish more people would follow their example until CCP fixes the mechanic so that a kill-mail is produced.

There was only one other moment where PL and NCdot had a chance to escape. The grid was badly contorted, and their supers were able to cross from one grid to another. We spotted this phenomenon early, and had dictors on both grids to prevent any escape.

This is what the end result looked like from my perspective in the AAA fleet.

Some are pointing to this battle a great example of the weakness of an unsupported super-capital fleet. In my opinion, the fact there there were no PL or NCdot titans on field to blap things was a major factor. Even without titans, the super-carriers nearly escaped on multiple occasions.

Super carriers were already neutered to an extent when they lost the ability to launch anything other than fighters or bombers, but titans remain very capable of killing support ships. Perhaps the lesson from the battle in LXQ2-T is that titans are what are imbalanced right now, not super carriers.

In any case, it’s food for thought, and I’m sure CCP is taking everything that happens on Tranquility into account when working on future balancing. If Titan tracking does get a nerf, fights like this – where a small sub-cap fleet holds down many supers until help can arrive – might be far more common.

This victory was preceded by PL losing 2 other super carriers to AAA, and morale among the Southern bloc is improving at a time when XxDeathxX and RA are both holding high-level meetings about the future of their coalition.

Ultimately, super-capitals can be replaced, especially by rich alliances like PL and NCdot. What can’t be paid for is the psychological impact of a super-capital being destroyed. Whether or not this harms the DRF, PL, or NCdot – it will definitely positively impact on everyone else involved.

Battle Summary:

Capital Kills —

Ship Class Total



The Super-Cap Gap

Posted in Eve History, Fleet Tactics on October 5, 2011 by Easley Thames

These days, everyone is talking about super capitals. The DRF is mass-producing them, the South wishes they had more of them, and the Goons wish they were never put into the game.

These ships have become the single most important factor in determining who controls null sec territory, and they seem to have cornered the market on frustration & butt-hurt at a time when customer satisfaction with CCP is at critically low levels.

Because of the high damage of fighter bombers, which require no ammo or energy from the host ship, super carriers have been firmly cemented as the new bulldozers for sovereignty infrastructure.

Compared to dreadnaughts, super carriers have far better offensive and defensive capabilities, with none of the built-in disadvantages that dreads bring.

Super carriers, like titans, have full e-war immunity at all times. Unlike dreads, they don’t need to siege to obtain this immunity, and therefore it is much harder catch them with their pants down in the same manner that often happened to dread fleets.

While in siege mode, dreads can be killed even by a comparatively small number of sub-capital ships. This is because dreads in siege mode cannot receive remote repair, dock, or jump.

This was a great way to balance the behemoth tower-killers of yore. No such balancing mechanic exists for super carriers. Super carriers are far from helpless against sub-caps thanks to their drone bay, fighters, remote ECM burst, and considerable buffer tank.

And then there are the titans.

There is no other ship class that has caused so many problems in the history of eve. Titans have been broken since release, and every change has simply replaced one game-breaking super-weapon with another game-breaking super-weapon.

Titans have never been fun to fight against. Originally, they could remotely AOE ships from another system through a cyno. In those days, they didn’t even have to jump through to set off the weapon.

Later, they were forced to jump through in order to deliver the doomsday, so people started bring “waves” of titans to ensure it wasn’t possible for anything to survive and tackle the titan.

Now, with titans being something like a super-capital sized battleship, people are not bringing a handful titans in waves before quickly hiding them, they are dropping dozens of them at a time on everything that moves.

And why not? It’s not as if there is any risk involved with dropping 50 titans, unless of course there are 51 titans nearby who are ready to counter you. Some refer to this as the “n + 1” counter.

Titans not only reduce capital fleets to ash, they also have an equally strong impact on key sub-capitals ships. Titans can turn a “sub-cap advantage” into a long list of loss mails rather quickly unless you have obscene odds in your favor.

The common retort when discussing the primacy of supers in 0.0 is a two word reply, “cyno jammers,” as if these were an easy counter to sustain 23/7.

All it takes is an unannounced form-up by the enemy in your weak timezone, and rather quickly the jammer will be gone, usually too fast for a coalition to communicate and respond with sufficient force.

The enemy can jump in their supers and dominate the system from then on. If they need to log, they can log in system, and erecting a new jammer will do nothing to eject the supers who have already made it in.

Once you have hostile supers logged in a system, they will be able to log them in unpredictably to take down any new jammers. They can also cause all kinds of other misery for you.

Even if you could protect your jammers 23/7 and lock-in your own supers to crush invaders, you will have to cycle the jammer eventually to move your own caps into the system. Otherwise, the enemy could simply hit every other system first while you hide under a single jammer.

The bottom line is that a determined attacker will get their supers on-field if they want it badly enough.

To make matters worse, an incapacitated jammer prevents the anchoring of a replacement, so the defenders will have to repair or destroy their own busted jammer before they can re-jam the system.

So when speaking of “jammers,” remember that they are not an invincible on/off switch that the defender can flip at will, it is simply another pos module that can be taken out in a variety of ways.

Currently, supers are getting a ton of attention, and with good reason.

One of the things that makes Eve interesting is the room for creativity and innovation in fleet warfare. At the sub-capital level, this kind of evolution in tactics and fittings has always been alive and well.

Even when carriers and dreads started being used in large numbers, there was a huge space for diversity in tactics and fittings (e.g. – sniper dreads, brawler dreads, pantheon carriers, triage carrier rotations).

In those days, any good capital strategy involved using sub-caps as well, and losing all of your support often meant your destruction.

What made the capital ship class interesting was that – while powerful – they were also very vulnerable. Triage mode and siege mode present a HUGE risk. This is a TRADEOFF you make for more power.

Super capitals are not forced to choose between power and safety. A large group of supers are very safe on any battlefield.

Even against a larger group of supers, inadequate log-off mechanics ensure that you are likely to save the majority of your fleet in the case of a well-executed trap.

Supers represent a dead-end. There is no reason to specialize in anything else, and there are no counters to be found in other ship classes.

I realize people have killed supers with 200-300 suicidal gank-fit sub caps before. This is fun and I cheer along with everyone else when “welp fleet” takes down a super carrier, but this is not a counter that will allow a side with less supers to win a major battle, it’s more like harassment, and it only works under specific conditions.

Instead of a “rock, paper, scissors” situation (example: armor hacs v. alpha BS v. Tengus), or a Achilles heel situation (example: siege mode for dreads), we have a class of ships that have no weaknesses.

When the only direct counter for a ship/class/character/team is more of that ship/class/character/team, this is the essence of a broken game mechanic.

Right now, a majority of the super-cap heavy alliances are part of the same coalition.

This coalition, lead by the Drone Region Russians, was formed for a singular purpose: the destruction of the Northern Coalition.

To this end, Raiden (ex-BoB) and NCdot (ex-Tri) joined hands with the heavily Russian DRF. By this time, the DRF already included Red Alliance, Legion of xXDeathXx, Solar Fleet, White Noise, Intrepid Crossing, Red Legion, The Jagged Alliance, Controlled Chaos, and others.

Pandemic Legion, the largest super-cap force in the game, once again played “king-maker” here, joining the Russians and their comrades in exchange for a hefty sum.

At first, I was cheering for the NC to finally meet their end, as were nearly all of us in MVN, but soon I began to wonder if it really was such a good thing for the game to see a large care-bear oriented bloc that was notorious for welcoming new players removed entirely.

Combined with a null-sec income nerf, and the introduction of high-paying incursions, there was little reason for the bears residing in the North to fight and reclaim their space.

The result was more people playing in empire, which means less targets for everyone other than Privateers & The Orphanage.

It would have been fine if the replacement for the NC were simply a number of smaller coalitions, but what we got was another mega-bloc.

With the NC defeated, PL went back to playing better games than Eve, and they reset standings until they are needed again.

However, the rest of the coalition has remained intact, despite the lack of any existential threat to the DRF or any real re-consolidation of the NC to be found anywhere.

Next, the majority of the coalition that was necessary to pry the NC from the North was leveraged against AAA, and the other “Southern” alliances. Ostensibly, this conflict also involved the residents of the entire Southwest, among whom are several ex-NC entities.

I can say with confidence that very few supers are being built in the South right now. Some corps are crazier than others in this regard, but everyone feels the impending doom of the DRF and their new allies.

It isn’t really a mystery why Raiden and NCdot kept the DRF blue, they want to beat up on a weaker coalition more than they want to worry about defending their own space right now.

Their choices were to attack West into Deklein, attack east into IRC space, or bandwagon with White Noise & RA against AAA in the South. Considering the stomping the Russians took in 46DP, I can only imagine that the Russians were pleading for help at that point.

So, predictably, the groups that once resented the NC for having “too many blues” decided to keep their new mega-bloc standings intact and go South.

Down here, they have been helping White Noise take revenge for the CSAA’s AAA destroyed, and to “reclaim” space that White Noise took from AAA to begin with.

Initially, the war was going well for AAA and friends. Red Alliance + White Noise + xxDeathxx + Controlled Chaos + Ultima Ratio were a good match for AAA + ROL + Nulli + Cascade/Atlas + Nulli.

Relatively even wars are conducive to large battles where super-caps are frequently deployed on both sides. Epic battles ensue, and fun is had by all. The brawl that took place in 46DP is a great example of this.

Victories under relatively-even conditions feel earned, and tend to make for great stories to write about. These are also the kinds of stories that draw new players to the game.

On the other hand, one-sided wars raise the stakes of using supers too high for the weaker bloc. While easier for the conqueror, these wars harm morale on both sides because there is no suspense, and even fewer enjoyable fights.

With the alliances currently tied to the DRF remaining blue, and the power of supers unchecked, we effectively have a uni-polar world on Tranquility right now.  This means new coalitions are unlikely to be able to break into 0.0, and the current blocs not-allied with the DRF exist only at their mercy.

This situation does not provide much fun for current players, and worse yet, it doesn’t draw in new players into 0.0 – or even to playing the game in the first place.

The Dominion experiment has failed, perhaps even more spectacularly than the Incarna expansion.

I don’t consider it a stretch to say that a super-capital imbalances between major power blocs are bad for the game itself. Dominance by one power bloc, which is made possible by an ever-growing growing super-capital majority, inevitably contributes to apathy.

This is the super-cap gap that many people, myself included, consider game-breaking.

When people feel that logging in doesn’t matter, they are more likely to move on to other games. This is bad for everyone involved, regardless of who won and lost in their most recent campaigns.

Right now, when all the supers in the game are counted up, the DRF and their allies simply have too many toys, especially if you count PL on their side.

Everything mentioned so far is common knowledge. I think CCP, the players, and even the non-Eve-playing gaming media are aware that there are balance problems with this game right now.

What hasn’t been discussed adequately is how to fix things.

First off, a political solution could be reached that breaks the DRF into at least two smaller parts. This would be a temporary fix to the problems caused by the super-cap gap, but it doesn’t access the root of the problem.

Most importantly, this kind of political solution is something only players could control, since I don’t believe CCP is creative or ballsy enough to come up with a way to penalize players for having large blue lists.

Additionally, any temporary reset between group like NCdot and their Russian comrades is likely to be temporary. Any serious threat to either side would lead to a renewed bandwagon.

Second, supers could be nerfed. This is something CCP has already come to terms with, and I suspect a poll of every player in 0.0 would heavily favor this outcome. The only question is, how.

Right now on singularity, titans cannot doomsday sub-capital ships. This is the first step towards balancing titans, and by far the most needed change.

Titans currently get “rooted” for 30 seconds after firing their doomsday weapon, which is only a minor limitation, but they also cannot cloak or jump out of the system for 10 minutes. These restrictions are still present on singularity, but they have not been increased, which has come as a disappointment to some players.

The real problem with the current “penalties” associated with the doomsday weapon is that they make dropping a single titan on a hostile target (like a ratting carrier or jump freighter using a cyno beacon) hazardous for that one pilot, but they do not make large titan fleets any less safe when deployed together.

In order for 50 titans on grid to worry about their 10-minute timers, they would need to be in danger to begin with. Making them stick around is only a penalty if there is a chance that someone stands a chance of killing them.

So what’s still missing?

Titans need to be more vulnerable to sub-cap fleets. The DD target nerf is a huge step, but turret-based titans need to be unable to chew through hostile battleship fleets like they do. Nerf them all to the level of the Leviathan, which can only harm other capitals with its launchers.

I think that dreads also need a major boost in damage, effectively making them a viable counter to supers if you can resign yourself to losing them in large numbers.

My biggest question is, what about the super carriers?

Super carriers are cheap compared to titans, and they out-class both carriers AND dreads in every way.

I think a dread buff would go a long way to indirectly nerfing super carriers, since they share the role of anti-capital and anti-structure powerhouse. However, that doesn’t seem sufficient to me.

Some have proposed limiting super carriers to fighters and bombers, removing the ability to launch other drones. I don’t think this really gets to the heart of the problem. Having only fighters for killing sub-caps and only bombers for killing capitals would not be particularly limiting.

I personally favor a hit point nerf, reducing them to about 5x the EHP of a carrier instead of their current form (which is around 12-15x times the EHP of a carrier).

As an example, a Thanatos has 125k armor while a Nyx has over a million armor, with more slots to add tank. Supers are usually dead-space tanked as well, while carriers get t2 or faction at best.

There is another more radical change that I support. I am a proponent of removing e-war immunity for super carriers and titans.

What better way to reign in the power of super capitals than to allow well-coordinated teams of e-war specialists to dampen, disrupt, jam, scramble, and web these behemoths.

It only seems fair that titans should be vulnerable to tracking disruption since they can benefit from remote tracking links. It only seems fair that super should be vulnerable to dampening since remote sensor boosting works on them.

I would absolutely love to see a smart group of players beat an over-confident super-cap fleet using ewar and superior tactics. Perhaps a group of sniper dreads supported by dampening from a large sub-cap fleet (all of which fitting a phased muon dampener) would be able to pull off an incredible victory.

Isn’t that kind of scenario the stuff that makes for great player videos and great stories? I think it is, and I also think it’s time to move away from a model where the side with the most supers always wins.

This change would also make it possible to keep supers tackled with sub-capitals, even if they clear away all hostile dictors. Bubblers would still be important though, since it’s hard to individually point a large number of ships.

Finally, I think it’s time for one more major change to the game, longer log-off timers for capital and super-capital ships.

Right now, a side that commits large numbers of supers to a battle can simply log them all off when things start to go south. Sure, they will lose a few of them, as the DRF did in 46DP, but the majority of the fleet will survive.

What we need to do is move from a universal 15-minute log-off timer (before the ship disappears from space after logging) to a tiered system.

I would suggest that all sub-capital ships disappear, as they do now, in 15 minutes. I think that capitals (carriers, dreads, rorquals, etc.) should disappear in 30 minutes. Most importantly, I favor a 60 minute timer for super-capitals to disappear.

If you commit supers, I want logging them off to be suicidal. Your choices should be to clear away tacklers and escape, fight to the end, or defeat the enemy. No more of this “logoffski” crap, it’s a giant source of blueballs and a crutch for bad fleet commanders.

Spec Ops / Black Ops

Posted in Camping, Fleet Tactics, Piracy, Roaming on November 7, 2010 by Easley Thames

Every corp seems to have the idea from time to time that they need a “black ops” group. Typically this amounts to one of your FCs taking a few bombers out and looking for targets of opportunity.

Few groups do the “black ops” thing well. Notably, the Goon blackops who have now mostly broke off and formed Elitist Ops (now in PL) were a huge thorn in the side of Atlas when they locked down Omist for a short time.

-MVN- has had a EU TZ and US TZ blackops group off-and-on throughout our history. Currently we’re pretty active in this regard and the last couple weeks have really shown how effective they can be. For example, behind NC lines we’re popping pimped ratters / plex runners with great regularity:

There are many different ways to form and run a “black ops” gang, most of which do not rely upon the “black ops” ship category (e.g. – Sins or Widows) at all.

We’re currently running a mix of 2-3 styles of black-ops / covert gangs across EU and U.S. timezones with great success. When there is no official “deployment” or war to fight, there is plenty of time to experiment, and I think we may be seeing even greater success as more of our pilots get comfortable flying in this fashion.

Of course, some of it is just the fact that we have really strong pilots operating in the north currently. We’ve been smacked and told we only pop so many t3 / faction BS because we’re “cloaking fags.” The truth is, we have been getting the same good kills without flying in purely blackops gang ships in the same time-frame.

IT Surprise Visit To Providence

Posted in Fleet Tactics, IT Alliance on October 10, 2010 by Easley Thames

Through channels, a CVA FC reached out to contacts in IT Alliance for a potential hot-drop opportunity on some Providence alliance capitals laying siege to a CVA-owned pos in 6-OQJV.

The target  fleet included members of the following alliances:

Legio Astartes Arcanum

Noir. Mercenary Group

On the Rocks

Imperial Order

Flying Dangerous

Against All Authorities

We formed up in capitals with a small conventional fleet at first, but mixed intel on a potential counter drop caused us to tread carefully. We decide to start things off by jumping through a small support fleet to engage approximately 10 hostile caps who were on the tower at that time.

The hostiles were keeping their sub-caps off-field due to excellent POS gunning by CVA.

When our fleet landed, we locked up and killed 2 carriers before the hostile sub-cap fleet showed up. With greatly superior-size, their sub-cap gang forced us to warp off to regroup. Thanks to a lack of hostile tackling and strong logistics support,  we got off the field without serious losses.

It was decided to switch everyone who wasn’t already in the system into sub-caps at this point, and we proceeded to form up a much larger gang of shield BCs and logistics before bridging a second wave into the system.

With similar numbers to the enemy fleet (but lacking any caps) we tore them apart with very few losses. I was surprised by the unfocused nature of their dps. I suspect not all of them were on the same comms. We took no losses from this point on, save for 1 IT BC that was called primary by mistake due to overview issues.

CVA did a great job bubbling the enemy and pos-gunning. I have to extend my gratitude for providing such an excellent engagement for us to enjoy in U.S. prime-time, where we typically do not see much action other than roaming gangs.

-MVN- FCs Perseus and Homegrown did a great job leading this one, with assistance from several other FCs who were coordinating scouts and cynos, as well as providing input on how to proceed.

One unexpected event was the arrival of a small Agony training fleet, which engaged the hostiles while we were regrouping. It was a T1 frigate gang that got quickly dismantled, but I’m sure they had a good time themselves, and it was a useful distraction for our side.

-MVN- Battle Summary

IT Killboard Battle Summary

I myself made it onto a fair number of mails, but only a fraction of the whole —

In Summary: This was a very fun op for everyone involved on our side. The enemy was actually rather chill in local and, despite losing, I suspect they may have had fun as well. Our only real regret was that we had to leave all the capital mods and fighters behind for CVA to loot. That and the fact that several hostile caps self-destructed (mostly dreads).

Homeland Defense :: Worth Taking Seriously

Posted in Fleet Tactics on September 13, 2010 by Easley Thames

Corporations often allow hostiles to roam their space freely. The common refrain is “if our ratters get caught, they deserve to die.” While this is actually true in my opinion, there is no reason not to take advantage of these opportunities for some easy kills in your own back yard.

The other day, a ratter called out that he was tackled in a Sanctum. Instead of berating him (that comes later) we formed a small gang in a flash (-MVN- are usually on voice comms when in-game) and warped in on the Stain Empire roaming gang with a nice mix of recons and close-range brawlers. They were far off and managed to warp as we came on-grid, but we caught their Curse and Sabre in a bubble on one of the out-gates. The SE gang then made best speed out of Delve.

If you are diligent about forming up counter-gangs and taking out hostiles, you create systems that roamers learn to pass by when they travel in lieu of easier pickings. We will occasionally go so far as to setup sling bubbles or cloak in the belt with a ratter when we know a hostile is inbound, making our busiest systems the most dangerous by far. While it’s impossible to succeed every time, I have noticed some areas of IT space are clearly safer than others.

The one caveat is that, if you are not highly experienced as a corp with small gang pvp, and if you don’t have FCs on who know what to do, trying to save ratters can just make the situation worse. In -MVN- this is rarely an issue, but I wouldn’t encourage any corp to warp ships wildly into a belt to save a single member’s ratting boat. The key is forming a gang (albeit in a hurried manner) and responding properly so that you turn a bad situation into a good one.

It’s also worth chasing down a roamer sometimes, if for no other reason than to prevent them from thinking your space is a soft target. A short while ago, we heard a report about a Sleipnir traveling through Anzac’s constellation. Earlier in the day, the Aussies had some difficulty catching him, so we wanted to be sure he didn’t make it out alive. We got ahead of him and when he jumped into NOL- a nasty surprise awaited him on the gate.

In my opinion, it’s best to make your home systems a nightmare for cloakers, roamers and other hostiles who may wish to visit. You can take the time to yell at your member later and, if they are not very useful to the corp, go ahead and kick them. However, it’s never good to let your disappointment cost you potential kills.

Well-Deserved Recognition :: New -MVN- Corp FCs Making Us Proud

Posted in Fleet Tactics on September 1, 2010 by Easley Thames

I have said many times that PvP corps live and die by the activity level and leadership skill of their FCs. If there are no active FCs to lead gangs, your combat-loving pilots will be bored between major alliance ops.

In an alliance like IT, which doesn’t emphasize casual PvP, having successful corp-run roams is essential. Especially for a group like -MVN- that has always been unwilling to go without constant ‘pew pew’ for very long.

On the other hand, if the leaders at the helm of fleets are unskilled or foolish but highly-active, gang-participants will tire of showing up to commit suicide in expensive hardware and will soon defect or simply avoid participating. Therefore, having FCs who are both active and skilled is essential.

Admittedly, the overall pilot quality of a corp matters a great deal as well. Even a highly-skilled and active FC may soon burn-out or fail to achieve his potential if the pilots he leads cannot perform to his expectations.

However, having quality FCs around tends to improve and train the general membership, and even poor recruiting will eventually lead to the discovery of some diamonds in the rough.  Therefore, I consider fleet command / leadership to be the most important factor in a strong PvP-based corp.

There have been some new faces leading gangs in -MVN- recently, and I have been extremely pleased with their performances. In the past we’ve had new pilots become first-time FCs in -MVN- with mixed results. Perseus is a great example of a younger pilot (in terms of character creation date) becoming a top-notch FC on a very-short timetable. Others have shown promise but failed to step-up on the level we would like to see.

Recently, instead of training-up new FCs, we’ve had the good luck to take on some experienced FCs from other corps.

I would argue that, for a corp like -MVN- that gets dozens of apps each week from potential members, finding a highly skilled FC is more valuable than 20, 30 or even 50 additional skilled pilots at this point.

I will not post any names here for fear it could lead to them being primaried more than they already are, but I’m sure every combat pilot in MVN knows the people I am referring to.

So, all you new Maverick fleet commanders, keep up the great work! To those who have not been leading gangs but would like to start, now is a perfect time.