Monday, March 19, 2012

Drama, Wormhole Warfare, and the Stealth Attack

I hate drama. My corp just left Nulli Secunda. Most of the Europeans (who make up a majority of the corp) felt like there wasn't enough going on in their time zone. More importantly though, we weren't even in Nulli Secunda proper. We were in Nulli Tertius, S2N's entry alliance. There had been a few instances where our corp members weren't given proper respect (as allies, even) by S2N members and leadership. Drama ensued. And many of the people who had wanted to move in to a larger alliance for the sov space had left for various reasons. So it was the right decision. I just wish I didn't have to listen to people complain on corp comms for hours before coming to a solution. I'm more of a forgive and move on kind of guy.

Our fearless leader, Princess Kamala, decided to join us up with Hades alliance. I don't know much about them yet except that they're allied with Raiden and thus kill Goons. For the next few days we'll have people moving ships up to Vale of the Silent and getting settled in. Since I'm a light packer, I'll just be my normal nomadic self for a bit.

I moved most of my stuff out of S2N's sov space in Period Basis over a month ago. So I didn't have much to worry about this time around. I still have 3 battlecruisers out there in stations I can't access (any more). It was too much of a bother to head out there and get everything ready for contract, so I didn't. That was probably a good thing though. One of our main carrier pilots in corp who had been doing a lot of our logistics work decided that he was going to keep his last load of our stuff. From what we've been able to find out, it wasn't that much that he took. But I guess when you're disgruntled and planning on leaving anyway, you take what you can get. Just more drama, is all.

While I avoid and ignore drama wherever I can, action is another story all together. I scanned down a entrances to both a class 2 and a class 3 wormhole in Amarr. The class 3 appeared empty with little of interest inside with the only other exit being to low-sec. The class 2, on the other hand, was abuzz. Immediately after scanning down the wormhole and warping to it while resolving other signatures in the system, a raven warped in behind me. I contemplated jumping through and attacking him...until a second raven joined the first. My first thought was that they were local residents. But after doing a bit of killboard research, that didn't appear to be the case.

I fit up a bomber to head in to do some reconnaissance and possibly cause some mischief. The initial results from my directional scanner showed a large faction tower surrounded by about a dozen battleships and a few logistic support cruisers. A territorial claim unit conveniently marked the location of the tower, and once cloaked up on grid, I realized I was witnessing a fairly epic attack on this tower. Two defending pilots floated in frigates inside the force field. But their real strength was their control of the tower's defenses. They were doing a decent job too, judging by the pair of attacking battleship wrecks and lone basilisk wreck on the field.

I stayed still for a few minutes, just observing and waiting for a target of opportunity. A single bomb from my hound deals about 7500 raw explosive damage. That's not enough alpha to take down a battleship or any of the logistics cruisers on the field. But if I hit the ship that was already taking pressure from sentry guns, it might be enough to push it over the edge. I pulled into position, decloaked, launched my bomb, and warped off to the nearby planet. It's a good thing I didn't stick around, too. Bombs normally fly at 3km/s for 10 seconds. Mine was bugged and just sat in place. That's happened to me once before. I wonder if it's a common problem or something I'm doing wrong.

I immediately cloaked up and warped back and didn't expect what I saw: nothing. The attacking fleet had vanished. I continued to scan down the system with probes I had launched earlier, revealing a connections to a low-sec and a C3 system. (It's better to lose a torp launcher for a probe launcher than to lose your ship and pod because your only known exit collapses behind you.) All three wormholes were in scan range from where I was, so it would be easy to monitor for the fleet's return.

I opened up a conversation with one of the pilots still inside the force field to see if I could better understand what was going on. He didn't give much in the way of details, but his attitude showed that he wasn't too worried that they'd lose the pos. I watched as a helios pushed its way out of the protective bubble to make its way to a few spare sentry guns to online them. Due to the low sig radius of a helios, if he had a medium shield extender, he'd be able to survive through a bomb. I thought I might be able to nab him if I was able to put a point on him and get a few torp volleys off in addition to the bomb. But he never ventured far enough out off the protective retreat of the bubble to make that tactic possible. A coercer headed out to salvage and loot the wrecks left on field. But by the time I actually decided to go after it (not a very juicy kill, after all) and got in range, he had finished his job and started to head back to safety.

After waiting patiently for about an hour, checking scan (and reading reddit), the coercer pilot had reshipped to an anathema covert ops frigate. A couple more locals had warped to the pos in a proteus and dominix. I decided I'd take my chances with the anathema. I slowboated around toward the opposite side of he pos, cloaked, toward the anathema. Just as I was about positioned, he takes off to the next group of guns. I chase him down, coming withing a couple km of decloaking myself in the hurry to catch up. Judging by his speed, he's fit with a microwarpdrive. If it's on when the bomb hits, he'll take about 6x as much damage, easily enough to kill him, due to his ballooning sig radius. I'm not letting him get away this time! Without bothering to get set up perfectly, I decloak, fire a bomb, activate my sensor booster, initiate targeting, precycle my point and torps, and align out. The anathema pilot is alert and notices the incoming bomb (or at least my bright, yellow entry on the overview) and scrambles back to safety. But too slowly. Pop goes his ship.

There's something extremely satisfying about blowing up a pilot's ship in the heart of his home system, while his friends look on, helpless. With my cover blown, they're unlikely to venture out of the pos bubble in fragile frigates any time soon. I head back to the high-sec wormhole to see if I can catch anything coming in. I watched a cloaky prorator come in through high-sec, warp off, then return a few minutes later and jump back to high-sec. I pulled some distance off of the wormhole and turned to face it in prime bombing range.

The plan was to fire a bomb the instant I saw the wormhole flare. When the incoming pilot finished loading grid and before he could assess the situation, the bomb would be mere seconds away from detonation. Even if he cloaked, the damage would decloak him, giving me time to target and point him. So if the bomb didn't blow him up, a few volleys of torpedoes would.

That was the plan, anyway. The reality was much different. I didn't react quick enough to the wormhole flare, saw the prorator blip on and off my overview while my bomb was mid-flight. And when the bomb went off, it didn't hit anything but the wormhole and empty space. Too bad. But I had another plan. Since the prorator had warped to and from the direction of the C3 wormhole both times, it was only a matter of putting a bubble or two up and catching him when he warped back. The market in Amarr, conveniently just a wormhole jump away, supplied me with a few cargo expanders and 6 small mobile warp disruptors. But when I returned, a dominix and scimitar sat on the high-sec side of the wormhole. I wouldn't be able to anchor any bubbles inside or catch anything while they were watching and scouting. The dominix jumped back into the wormhole, which visibly decreased in size. They were trying to collapse it. To further dissuade me from bothering them, the prorator jumped back to high-sec, and this time returned in his pod. I didn't want to get stuck scanning my way out of a wormhole system with no k-space static, so I decided to give it up for the night.

I missed out on a couple of kill opportunities, but I did get one at least. I was also able to witness a pretty epic pos bash attempt in w-space. It's very different in nature from it's null-sec equivalent. And I'd like to think I chased away a 15-man fleet with a single bomb...

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