I missed a week of blogging probably because I spent my EVE time undocked rather than sitting on the RL tarmac somewhere with a laptop on my knees (thats where I tend to write my blogs). And as much as I like satisfying the intellectual desires of both my readers, I actually prefer unloading T2 ammunition on flashy reds. Sorry if I broke your heart.
Well, where do we start? I know, lets start with Humble Pie. Last blog post, I felt quite good about myself, I was being useful to the Mercenary Coalition in helping to fulfill our contract. But what goes up must come down and so my streak of confidence ended when I made a couple of pretty serious mistakes that could have costed us boats and (far worse) reputation. Herein follows the tale.
So, we are deployed somewhere and shooting ships that appear red to us. This is about the level of intel that I have and hence share freely. One night, I log into an existing 40+ fleet Machariel fleet. Noir Academy pilots are not allowed to fly faction Battleships of course (for good reason) and I rummage in my hangar what I could bring when our FC orders: “NA and little shits form gate camp in X“. Since I am both NA and “little shit”, I heed the call, jump into a Heretic Interdictor and in corp chat rally my 2 corp mates (=more little shits) around me. The main body of the fleet undocks and goes into the opposite direction, while us three “little shits” (I love that expression) head to X to form a gate camp as ordered.
Now this is where I am getting a little antsy. I took charge of our splinter fleet but we have no separate comms and we are 2 Interceptors and an Interdictor. Not exactly a setup that can hold the mighty goonswarm or whatever we are fighting. The orders were quite clear (“gate camp”) but the means are very limited. FC is busy managing a 40+ man Machariel fleet and has no time to micromanage our sideshow. We head off to our ordered destination and since our team doesn’t have any real stopping power, I decide that we set up a “running ambush”, something that in real armed combat is left to special forces and not “little shits”. Basically, we can’t stop an enemy but we can slow him down and keep him busy. For this, we must stay alive and the two interceptors make for long range tacticals at the target gate while I create stop bubble tacticals in front of it. The idea is that hostile forces toy with us at first (buying our FC time to achieve his objective) and when they mobilizes in earnest, we provide intel and slow them down with bubbles as best as we can.
The dance commences. We have a Vexor landing on top of us, we have 2 Tengus toying with us and a T3 Destroyer. Since we have been in this area for quite a while, we all stole each other’s tacticals and our little ballet keeps us all entertained. The hostiles don’t know whats on the other side of our gate and I bank that they think that we are the advance team and tacklers for a mighty DPS group on the other side.
Only we know that there is literally nothing backing us up and I’d like to keep that illusion for a while. So, asking our ‘ceptors to abandon post and provide intel on the station and the gates would give our plan away. Bad idea.
But running ambushes rely on the “running part”, we are sitting (ok, “fluttering”) ducks and the hostiles are getting more numerous and more aggressive. They now camp the gate and their Flycatcher is on its way. They are basically calling our bluff. One of our Interceptor pilots asks for permission to jump back home and switch into a cloaky bomber – I agree, we are beyond actual combat mission but we desperately need intelligence. The station is outside of Dscan range and in order for me to set up stop bubbles, I need to get the timing and the direction just right – all under the eyes of the hostile opposition that is harassing me.
My corp mate jumps home just when the proverbial shit hits the fan both in the main body of the fleet (Machariels engaging) and our mini camp gets dropped on in earnest. Comms get busy with FC ordering the main fleet and I “pull the pin”, warp to my gate stop bubble tactical, blow the bubble and burn to the gate. The other interceptor jumps clear and we are on the “friendly” side now, setting up at tacticals again. My second mate comes back in a bomber as promised and jumps through. Somewhere in this mess, I wasn’t clear enough that our mini-camp moved, that there now is a bubble on the other side and likely a fleet of hostile ships. My colleague jumps and gets whacked.
Screw-up 1. I should have established comms with “my” team much more effectively, ignored our main FC (who we couldn’t help and he couldn’t help us) and asked for a 100% cloaky team – basically make the decision to move from offensive reconnaissance to intel gathering only. I didn’t and our loss was my mistake only.
Our mini camp is being recalled by the FC and we hurry to our new target destination. My whacked fleet mate made it out and jumps into a Vigil to rejoin the fight with good spirits. I make best speed to the main body of the fleet and anchor on our FC. As the only ‘dictor in the sea of Machs, I feel out of place, more like the FC’s personal shotgun rather than a viable fleet member. There are tons of hostiles right in front of me but outside of my range.
By now, I am itching to get into the fight, when someone reports a second hostile fleet en route to us in a neighboring system. I consider my options. Among these Machariels I am relatively safe but useless. FC is busy managing ranges and DPS and has no time for “little shits”, so I make the decision to warp into the path of the hostile fleet and slow them down as only an Interdictor can – blow bubbles. I turn my boat around, warp to the target gate at 10km, land in a bunch of hostile ships, launch my bubble and hightail out, warping back to fleet. Incoming hostiles will now be slowed down by a few seconds. I feel good about myself.
Unfortunately that warm feeling doesn’t last. FC asks on comms which Interdictor just bubbled a friendly fleet. Oh dear. Overviews. Mine doesn’t show friendlies, just hostiles. I didn’t realize that we had more than one friendly fleet in this system, the other one being a full-blown gate camp exactly where I thought I was being useful. In my zeal, I bubbled a friendly fleet which could have been a major, major problem if they had to warp off for whatever reason. They didn’t and FC moves on but I realize just how big this could have been under other circumstances. Damn!
Screwup 2. Warping off my FC anchor and into the direction of a hostile fleet wasn’t the screwup. The tactical situation had indeed made me expendable and slowing the enemy down was the correct decision. The screwup was to launch the bubble without making 100% sure that no friendlies would be equally affected. Lesson learned.
The engagement nears some form of conclusion, it sounds like that we are volleying hostile ships off the field faster than they can land. I think we reinforced a tower or something and that goal was completed also, not sure. FC orders all fleet to de-agress, warp to some gate, jump and warp to another tower for the next fight. I feel right stupid after my bubble screwup and swear I will stay by the FC until explicitly ordered off.
Which happens real soon. FC “what the fuck is the Heretic doing in the fleet, this is Low Sec, get off the field“. Thats me alright.
Screwup 3. I had forgotten that we are now in lowsec and that my Interdictor ain’t much use here.
Damn. Getting called out like this in front of everyone is embarrassing but that was not my problem. Not being in a ship that is useful to the fleet is. I turn tail, warp off and fetch a Vigil. Nobody objects to things getting painted, right? At least I get onto 1 kill that night.
The fleet has accomplished its objectives and stands down. I feel pretty depressed, its been a long time since I screwed up this hard and this frequently and I am posting my tale in /alliance to make sure that people know that I realized what I did wrong and that I won’t do that again. And the Noir. guys were awesome about it – in general, they are a terrific bunch. I likely get ridiculed over this but not whipped too hard.
The good news – I truly learned my lesson. Flying Interdictors requires a different set of situational awareness than flying – say – an Interceptor and I am really looking forward to do more of it.