Saturday, 20 August 2011

Taking the longcut to a great fight (AAR)

Task: Conduct fleet operation with shield BS arty fleet
Conditions: Combined alliance group looking to engage WT's around the Rens area
Standards: Get into a fight with the WT's and win  

  Situation:  Enemy fleets ranging from 15-30 war targets have dug in at the Rens star system and send out raiding parties to nearby systems. Friendly force commanders desire to engage and defeat WT's in a system away from Rens thus causing the enemy to potentially lose some neutral support and put the fight on more even terms.

  Mission: Coalition forces assemble fleet and conduct roam through outlying areas in order to engage the enemy in pitched battle.

  Execution:  Assemble in REDACTED with long range shield BS, preferably maelstrom class minmatar battleship, with logistics, recon, and ECM support.  FC will determine route based on scouting reports.

  Service/Support:  Logistics and ECM support will be traveling with fleet.  Stations along the route of march can be utilized for last second module exchange or repairs.  No capital or supercapital support will be expected during operation.  Follow on forces will be dependent upon themselves for movement to link up with fleet, no scouting will be available.

  Command and control:  Voice coms will be located on ventrillo at REDACTED.  FC will be in overall command.  Wing or squad commanders should be prepared to execute individual command over their echelon as needed.

  Summary report:  I logged on late tonite for the planned op but my corp leader linked the system the where the fleet was loitering.  Jark is only 6 jumps if I'm willing to cruise by Rens, but in this war the enemy is turned Rens into a wasp nest of neutrals and spies.  Instead I decide to route through metropolis, back into heimatar, and finally into delve.  I think the total jumps was somewhere around 18, but I wasn't counting because I was trying to get voice to work.  Eventually I realized Ventrillo was required and no matter how much I checked the info in TeamSpeak just wasn't gonna work. I started downloaded ventrillo about the time I was heading through two low sec jumps, in a blackbird, and I had to pay attention to flying.  At last I joined the fleet and was about to switch back to loading ventrillo when reds jumped through the gate.  Battle was upon us and I would just have to fight without coms.

So I'm in with the fleet in my BB and I'm watching chat trying to figure out what's going on since I have no voice coms.  The fleet is mainly composed of sniper Mael's, a chunk of logi, a smattering of recon, and the odd BC or two.  A single red flashy jumps in and warps approx 90km off the gate.  Next about 20-30 reds (I didn't count, just estimating size of overview it could have been 50) come in and go to the same 90 off the gate.  Our fleet is about 50 off the gate and I'm looking through the overview for nice targets to jam.  Command in chat says to burn back to the gate, so I flip on the MWD and start locking up logi's and ECM.  I locked one falcon but either I didn't get a jam or a second falcon was on grid because I got jammed for a round.

  I took the time while I was jammed to check my distances, turn off the MWD and make sure my first lock is the guy jamming me.  His jam misses a round and I get a jam on him instead.  Touche`.  I then get a jam on an onieros and a cane but fail on a gaurdian.  I'm about 3/4 through the jam cycle when I lose targets again.  This time it's because of drones.  Once the jam drops I lock the drones and the logi's again.  Kill the drones, jam the logis, don't see the falcon so I double up on a logi with the wrong racial.

  Scrolling through the overview I don't see any caldari ships so I pick out a minmatar, amarr, gallente, and something else to jam while continuing to scan for threats.  I'm content with life when I lose locks again. Mr. Falcon has returned and I lock him up as soon as his cycle is over and apply my own jam.  I kinda feel like I should be an extra in Spaceballs at this point.  The target list is shrinking so I start killing random drones on the fleet as no target is in the rather short range of my AML's.  The fleet mops up the remaining targets and we salvage and return to base.

Personnel assessment:
  I did pretty good this time.  I watched range, engaged the high priority targets first, and my fit is showing itself to be just about ideal for the types of fights we get into.  I need to fine tune overview a bit and drop ECM drones off the list.  I also need to learn the amarr hull names and know what they can do. I should practice sorting by type instead of distance and perhaps turning on the tactical grid will help me be aware of range while speeding up target selection from the overview.

Fleet assessment:
  I wasn't around for the manuevering and scouting but the FC seems to have done a great job of getting the fleet into a position to entice a fight as well as be at the best range for the fleet's composition.  I think quite a few of the enemy got away and that's probably the biggest weakness of the long range fleet, not as much tackle.  A few more arazu's or a BC tackle squad but it would have to be something arranged and that's kind of difficult with coalition type pick up fleets.

What we could do better:
     I'm thinking more and more that we need to find a better answer for tackle.  We keep getting into fights and then getting ahead only to have the majority of our targets flee.  Perhaps a dedicated squad with a mixed group of ships that allow the tackle squad to act independently of fleet maneuvers in order to maximize point spread and lock down as many targets as possible.  HIC's, Arazu, and tackle BC's would probably be the main body of the squad with some dedicated logi support that can travel with the group if needed.

  Another area we might want to look at improving is using cloaked ships to adjust warp ranges and allow us more tactical flexibility.  Probably would go hand in hand with a tackle squad that is kept off grid and brought in once the fight settles down a bit.  Would mean people have to commit to specific fits, but it would only be a select few and I'm sure there will be volunteers. 

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