Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Machariel Massacre of MSHD-4

Obe, 19.15 Eve time: a GotG coalition CTA fleet goes up under FC Kazar Far. The fleet quickly grows to over a 150: more than a 100 Cerberuses, with plenty of logi and support. Before undocking, the fleet reaches 190; undocking a fleet of that size is an impressive sight!

We do not yet know our objective, but the fleet begins to burn from Obe through Vale of the Silent and Tribute, encountering some hostiles but none that dare engage a fleet of our size. Stragglers get picked off by gate camps that go up behind us, though.

The FC happens to be French and initially that leads to some confusion, as the pronunciation of system names is sometimes difficult to follow for non French speaking pilots. Add in some uncertain pilots with autopilot issues and there's a recipe for a fleet that gets spread out and becomes vulnerable. That worst case scenario seems to become true when we meet a sizeable fleet of neutral and hostile Tengus, with a hefty amount of basilisks and other support ships with them. Their numbers match ours and then some, and I fear our CTA will end here and now.  But.. nothing happens! That's the political situation in the North at the moment: nominal neutrals and hostiles, working together to inflict damage to the CFC. A bit later we would meet another one of these neutralbros fleets; a Cerb fleet just like us. All in all, there are several hundreds of pilots flying around, looking for stuff to entosis – or kill.  In that sometimes complex situation, a neutralbro in a bomber suddenly uncloaks near us at a gate.. and dies to our fire. Oops. Sorry mate!

After many jumps we finally arrive in MA-VDX where a POS is to be reinforced. Other fleets go in first, bearing the brunt of the True Sansha Control towers' damage output, but once they are engaged we warp in as well and add our heavy missile damage to the dps mix. It doesn't take too long to reinforce the tower; no defenders show up. While we shoot at the tower, our entosis guys go to work on the station, knocking out several services for good measure. That, too, goes unchallenged.

While the fleet moves out of MA-VDX we slowly burn back in the direction of Tribute, entosissing stuff here and there. Suddenly, there's a rumour, a sudden sense of excitement in the air: an Erebus! There's an Erebus tackled somewhere! Where? K8X-6B! The FC announces that K8X-6B is our new destination and allows the fleet to free burn to the stricken Titan.. who doesn't like a Titan kill, after all. Pings go out via Slack and Discord, those not in fleet begin to wonder if they can still join us, come over and make it to that killmail.. People begin to hurry, the fleet gets split up once again.

A lone voice in our alliance Ops channel, reports from K8X-6B: "is there supposed to be a titan in K8X-6B cause IM the only one here". No one listens to Tommas, however; we all just want that Titan to be there, it seems.

Near K8X-6B, the situation suddenly and drastically changes. When we jump into MSHD-4, we land in a gate camp: a sizeable Circle of Two Machariel fleet, with Archons for logi, Bhaalghorns, Armageddons and a support wing. Have we been baited, with that Erebus report? Were we lured into this gatecamp? No time for questions now; we anchor up on Kazar and the fight begins, with some 500 pilots in local. Many in our fleet are neuted dry by void bombs and the Machariels, resulting in difficulty with achoring to the FC, activating hardeners and such, and we lose a number of Cerberuses. But after the initial confusion – including a moment where the FC nearly got volleyed off the field, but was saved by our logibros in the nick of time – we begin to focus fire. Slowly but steadily, the Machariels begin to drop. Then an Armageddon, then an Archon..
The number of pilots in system, in the mean time, continues to grow, as more and more neutralbros pour in to join the fight. The Machariels, soundly bubbled and by now confronted with overwhelming allied firepower, begin to drop in an increasing rate. “Test is on the way” says one pilot. Another pilot, who lost his Cerberus but has reshipped, mentions that Pandemic Legion is coming too with a large Proteus fleet.

Local continues to climb; ultimately, it will top at 1150.  It is hectic. With all the neutralbros and real hostiles around, it is sometimes difficult for the FC to call the right targets. On comms, pilots begin to call for next targets. Faster FC, faster! Next target, go go go! Tidi, coming and going in waves, delays our missiles, so that more dps is on the way than you'd know. A good FC knows how to work with this and doesn't stay too long on the same target, trusting that the dps that is still inbound will be enough to finish the ship. In the mean time, we can fire on the next one. This proves to work well: several Machs explode minutes after we fired our last missiles at them. Fleet discipline had to be maintained with harsh words, as other pilots begin to broadcast targets and dps is noticeably spread across multiple targets.

At first the situation was very uncertain, but by now it is clear this is a fleet massacre. The Imperium forces begin to melt and we get told to ungroup our missile launchers, try to get as many kills as you can.. It is a free for all, which not a single Co2 ship survives. Only a few days after losing a Machariel fleet in the battle of 2DWM-2 they lose another expensive one - to us!

Elated and pumped up on adrenalin, wooping and hollering on teamspeak, it is tempting to lean back and enjoy the victory – but our FC is on the ball and as soon as the last hostile ship explodes, he orders the remainder of his troops back to the 9OO-LH gate. We've been in fleet for hours now, time to go home.. or is it?

We jump in 9OO-LH and notice that Lucian James is there, in a Phobos. The FC orders him killed and he's quickly dispatched.
The FC decides to end the evening with some entosis work in K8X-6B. We warp to station, our entosis guys go to work while we tangle with a couple of interceptors. Warping back and forth between station and gate, we manage to kill a Keres but we can't get a hold of the 'ceptors – until, inexplicably, the 20 or so inties warp to 20 off our position.. and we still have an awful lot of dps with us, we are still with almost 140 pilots. The interceptors are killed in short order.

For a moment it seems Gorgon Fleet will get involved too, but their fleet never shows up. By now we're really a bit tired and on our way home to Obe – when, in EIDI-N, we run into Elo Knights' White Legion, who have a Muninn fleet on field. We play some gate games, warping here and there, jumping and burning back to gate – the usual stuff. We manage to kill a Svipul, a Sabre and two Muninns; at that moment Elo decides he's had enough and moves his fleet out, making best speed away from us. We pursue for a few jumps, but decide to go home. It's been almost four hours now and the next CTA begins in 35 minutes..
For me however it is past midnight and after four hours of flying and fighting, I'm tired and glad to log off. It's been a great night – one to remember. Although Co2 might rather want to forget it..

EVF battlereport:

ps. That Erebus, that was supposed to be in K8? Wrong intel.. it was parked at a POS! :-)

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