One of the recent changes in The Imperium, announced publicly on the Meta Show this past weekend, is a plan to run a number of fleet ops at standard times every night, each one having a regular doctrine and mission. I strongly suspect that this is to boost participation in fleets by allowing people to plan their time in advance, as opposed to waiting for a Jabber ping to show up (or not show up) when you have some free time and are able to play.
As it turns out, this totally works for me, as one of the standard op times is 02:00 EVE time (UTC), which translates to 7pm local time here in California. As an early riser (the alarm goes off at 5:30 am for me) 7pm is about the point in the evening when I have enough time left to commit to one more hour-or-more thing before starting to wrap things up and head to bed.
While I am not going to commit to being in that fleet every night, if you want to shoot me, 02:00 in Saranen seems a good bet.
This fleet op is set to accompany an Astrahus citadel finishing up its build cycle and going into its initial vulnerability time, so as to incent our foes to show up as well. We’re kind of looking for things to keep us busy during later US prime time I guess… attacking sovereignty is left up to Euro and Aus time zones… so we’re sacrificing a citadel nightly for the sake of entertainment and a chance to shoot some foes.
We also have a new doctrine, which we plan to use during that op, centered on the Naga battlecruiser with a long range sniping fit. I am told it can hit out to 300km with optimal skills.
I was keen to try that out, having about optimum skills for this amongst my nearly 160 million skill points, and doubly so since Asher was going to be leading this fleet. I got on early and bought a Naga off contract in anticipation.
It is a good thing I did so, as the remaining Naga contracts went quickly. One of the problems with the doctrine is that the Naga is a specialized ship… a lightly tanked long range sniper battlecruiser that can fit battleship rail guns… that isn’t all that popular, so stock in Jita was limited and sold out quickly.
So, while production gets sorted out to meet demand, the doctrine has to run with both Nagas and artillery fit Hurricanes in order to fill out a fleet. As you can see in the screen shot above, there were a lot of Hurricanes along for the ride.
The tactics are essentially the same as our hit and run Hurricane fleet. We land on grid, align out, lock up the designated target and shoot, when they are about to go down we are already building up to warp out in order to limit our exposure. We have done this a bunch of times in Hurricanes.
The enemy knows this and has adapted as well. The have their long range, beam fit Abaddons together with a screen of tacklers ready to burn into range where ever we land in order to grab a few of us before we can warp off. Those so stuck get zapped in short order by the Abaddons.
So last night’s battle was largely between us and hostile tackle in Devoter heavy interdictors. With the Hurricanes along, we had to land close enough for them to shoot, under 90km or so, which is a lot closer than the Nagas would generally want to land.
In some ways this was a boon for the Nagas. We got to run scan resolution scripts in our sensor boosters and our shortest range, highest damage ammunition in our guns, so we could lock fast and hit hard. The kill mails tell the tale in the regard. As an example, with this kill mail you can see Nagas top the list for damage done. I am at the top of the list and did three times as much damage as the top Hurricane, which had to fit lower damage, long range ammo.
Unfortunately, as noted, that put us within reach of enemy tackle, so on each run we were trading a Devoter for 3-6 Hurricanes. Three is a sustainable trade, six is a losing deal.
We were probably lucky that they seemed to favor grabbing Hurricanes over Nagas. Reshipping into another Hurricane was easy enough. There were lots on contract. And Hurricanes were both cheaper and doing less damage against the Nagas as individual ships. But when I finally got tackled and blown up on a pass, I warped back to the station to find no Nagas left to buy.
I had a Hurricane handy though, so I refit that to meet fleet requirements and rejoined the fight, only to get potted again on the first pass. Somebody opted to pod me which, since I had no implants, just got me back to the station faster. Having lost two battlecruisers, I decided to head out again in a Crucifier in order to put range damps on the heavy interdictors, hoping to thwart their tackle attempts.
However, by that point the op was being wound down. There were a couple more warps and then we docked up. The ISK was was heavily slanted against us, with us losing almost 2.5 times in value compared to our foes per the battle report.
Helping weigh the balance against use was a group of smart bombing Rokhs that DBRB flew into the hostiles, an action that, if understood coms correctly, did not go as planned and yielded zero kills.
And, of course, the Astrahus was blown up as well, adding to the ISK count against us.
Still, it was a quick, fun, and exciting operation, and fellow TNT and Black Sheep Down pilot Zurvon Starr came out of it better than I did, getting on twice as many kill mails during the fight and earning two kill marks on his Naga, which survived.
Anyway, I applied for my SRP, which was in my account when I checked this morning, so I remain ISK rich and able to come back for the next fleet. We shall see how the Naga situation plays out. I will be sure to check in early to grab one before the contracts disappear.
I also suspect that we will have to adapt our own tactics as the enemy has adapted theirs.