It is no secret to my last remaining pair of readers that our corporation (Z3ro Return Mining) lives in C4 space with an ever-changing C3 neighbor. Life and wormholes are like boxes of chocolates, you never know what you find when you open one; C3s are quite popular actually since they always have a connection to K-space and hence allow the riches of Wormhole life with the added advantage of easy access to the markets.
Last Monday, Oreamnos Amric and myself find ourselves alone at home, Orea is our CEO, Alliance Boss, Supreme Commander and Dear Leader. He also manages our corp payouts so I suck up to him. While Orea is doing accounting things, I open our C3 with my scouting Proteus whilst having my alt in a Stratios on standby in our hole. D-scan shows me 3 Tengus, a tractor unit and a mess of wrecks. I quickly move, cloak and with narrow beam find out where these site runners are and within 10s, I have eyes on them from 100km.
As metas go, site running Tengus are a little outdated, mostly surpassed by the much heavier Rattlesnakes, passive Gilas or Domix drone boats. Normal (“unblinged”) Tengus either have low DPS or low Tank and they are all extremely dependent on their capacitor, to a point where site-running Tengus have to use a spider tank”, i.e. send each other shield rather than fully relying on local shield management. That means, they need to be close together, making webbing sleepers dangerous. We used to run C2,3,4 sites in Tengus, the remote repping system scales nicely with the numbers of fleet members but the DPS is always weak. But the micromanagement got old and we have easier doctrines now for PvE.
So, the three guys I am watching are in typical spider-tank configuration and Orea and I are musing how we could break them. All Wormhole PvE ships are omnitanked and C3 sleeper Tengus with their remote repairing ability are tough nuts to crack. We also need to hurry up since this was the last anomaly in the system and they are about to finish the site. Then its done, they pack up their tractor unit and in perfect unison (aha, its 1 guy with alts) warp to a POS. Me, of course in pursuit to watch what they will do next. Orea and my alt are in our hole and can jump in as soon as requested. After a short pause, one of the Tengus switches into a Noctis salvaging boat and warps to a different cleared site. I have no bookmark for that site but no matter, all this means is that the Noctis will be loaded with more loot! I warp back to my perch, land ~20km off the wrecks and wait for the salvager to arrive in front of my blasters. Orea and my alt decloak and circle our hole at 2.5km, like sharks around a fat diver, full of anticipation.
Predictably, the Noctis lands right where the tractor unit used to be, about 16km off me. Of course I am aligned and cross the next 6km cloaked up. My goal is to decloak at 10km, fire up my MWD and ram the Noctis, throwing off any alignment he may have.
All works to plan, I decloak and scram the Noctis, launch Hammerheads and and cycle my blasters. The fat industrial ship is not aligned and I turn off my MWD to conserve capacitor; we are not going anywhere fast. Orea and my alt are jumping in and and I keep a D-scan eye on the two Tengus in their POS. During all this micromanagement, I fail to see the Noctis going into structure much faster than I had anticipated but to be fair, we now have a Tengu landing as well which is a much more exciting target. We lock the Tengu while keeping DPS on the Noctis, at least that thing needs to die. The Tengu targets my Proteus and hits hard but my tank is decent enough; EFT gives me a 127k EHP with good resists but anemic DPS (432).
The Tengu hits me square in the face but I can take this for a while. Orea and my Alt are engaging in our respective Stratios’ which are nearly identical Neut Boats with drone damage. That thing can neut approx 400 GJ / 12 seconds, a substantial amount but its tank is weak (62k EHP) and it has virtually no DPS (281 with 5 Hammerheads). Its a great fleet and support boat of course.
The second Tengu now lands on grid and starts repairing (and sending cap??) to the first Tengu. The Noctis blows up, Orea barely makes it onto the killmail with a highly effective neut :). The pilot’s capsule hangs in space; I remember that he used to pilot a Tengu and decide to kill him right there. In K-space, podding someone sends them to their reserve ships quicker while in W-space it removes them terminally from the fight. So, I target the pod and redirect my Hammerheads. It takes a surprising amount of time to kill that pod and in the end I had to take my blasters off to finish him off. Note to self, this was time wasted, should have used the blasters right away.
In the meantime, we are pecking away on the first Tengu and are making decent progress, we got him into nearly half armor.
Unfortunately, our luck doesn’t hold – the strategy of neuting Tengu 2 and shooting Tengu 1 doesn’t pay out. Both Orea and my alt run out of cap on our respective Stratios’ and Orea is running out of cap charges. We both lose web, tackle and neuts on occasion and our target gets his stuff together and reps himself nearly 100% shield. Whether this came from Tengu 2 sending shield to Tengu 1 or whether Tengu 1 has some local shield booster, we don’t know. But we can’t break him like this and we decide to disengage, easy since we have neither webs norm scrams on us, just target painters and missiles. Orea initiates fleet warp home and we leave the field with a “gf”, receiving another “gf” in return as it is tradition. We jumped them fully knowing that we could have at least 2 Tengus on top of us, he / they took his / their chance and counter jumped, we didn’t break them and walked away. Did we win? Sure, we got the Noctis. But he won also, he had no way of knowing what fleet we had when he engaged my Proteus but he did it anyway – good size balls this man, he could have written off the Noctis and just logged for the night.
The whole episode made me rethink our fleet doctrine. The Proteus as heavy tackle is fine, one could argue to make him a NOS / remote armor pocket logi but the boat had done its job well and reliably. The Stratios however didn’t work out. Anemic DPS, more complicated cap charger management than I would like in an Alt-ship, web, scram, drones, neut, too many things that can go wrong. Its single role is to neut and maybe send some drones, a role too limited as a reliable “wingman” fit. Nothing wrong with this in a 10 man fleet (awesome, in fact) but in a 2 or 3 man fleet, its not ideal. I am tempted to swap my alt back into his own T3 cruiser or go back to my old strategy and put him into a Falcon, damn the haters. With a Falcon on grid, we could have held them until we or them ran out of Ammunition. Maybe a neuting Legion, I don’t know. Ideas are very welcome.
Overall, a fun, long fight starting with a classic takedown of a Noctis ending in a very unusual stalemate. EVE at its very best.
PS. We are recruiting – one more ship on grid could have netted us 2 Tengu kills. So, if you like WH life, if you like flying with a team of guys who get on personally (no drama) and if you fun, independence and a fairly good ISK income, come talk to us. Epigene in game.