January 9, 2014

Contract Recap - Gone Fishing

2013 ended with a pretty fun contract where we provided neutral logistics for Failed Diplomacy. Then we took a pretty long break for the holidays. Yesterday, January 9, 2014, marked the first contract of the year. It was also our 249th contract of all time. Here's what went down.

We were contacted about the possibility of providing the brute force for an operation. Our employer had a bunch of capital ships and at least one supercapital ship ratting in a very deep area of nullsec. The employer was going to act as our Hunter Killer, tackling the target and bridging us in, at which point we'd simply kill it. The plan was announced three days before the contract. We decided that we'd use our Black Ops doctrine, untested before now.

Now, we're experts in traditional Black Ops, which is where you have Stealth Bombers and Recons who stay within range of a Black Ops Battleship while a Hunter Killer (traditionally a Recon, but not always) roams about in the jump range of the Black Ops Battleship. When the H/K finds a target, he tackles it, reduces his speed, and lights a covert cyno. This allows the Black Ops Battleship to create a bridge between himself and the H/K which the bombers and recons can use to instantly appear around the cyno - right on top of the target. But this was not a traditional BLOPS doctrine. This time, instead of Stealth Bombers being the mainstay of the fleet, BLOPS were. Where Stealth Bombers are used as DPS and secondary ECM, and even sometimes secondary tackle, we were transferring the DPS role to our BLOPS. We also decided to bring remote repairing Tech Three ships for logistics. Anyone that couldn't fly either of these two roles would come through in bombers, fulfilling their traditional roles - DPS, secondary ECM, and secondary tackle.

Figuring out what we were going to fly was easy, of course. We have had this doctrine saved in Fleet-Up since May of 2013. The difficult part was figuring out how to get there. As I said, it was very deep into nullsec. Normal travel was out of the question, obviously.  Equally obvious, we were going to be taking advantage of our jumping capabilities. We had never tackled a move operation quite like this before, which was kind of exciting. We spent the next two days calculating fuel costs, ensuring we new exactly who was going to attend and in what ship (another great feature that Fleet-up has allowed us to be very accurate with our math). Fuel calculations and deployments were done by Deletor, Pepizaur, and Ziraili mainly. The only real contribution that I had to this personally was ensuring that we had the right disposition of ships so that our needs were met when it came to neutralizing and DPS power. I had the easy job.

The day of the operation, we felt confident; confident in our numbers, confident in our math, confident in our ability to quickly and effectively move into place unseen and unnoticed until too late. Literally just as we were preparing to undock and begin our trek across the galaxy, our Teamspeak, forums, and jabber went down. It's a curse. Seriously, it is. We scrambled to replace it. Our backup server had been taken down by the guy who owned it because of our recent Teamspeak stability. Once it was rebooted, we realized he no longer had the non-profit 500 man limit, and we were at capacity. Then another one was scrambled. This took seemingly forever. Probably 10 minutes in reality.

Once we were all back in comms with one another, the order to undock was given and we began jumping across the galaxy, one jump at a time. One BLOPS was designated the pig for all of the stealth bombers and recons, and at each location, we had haulers pre-staged, chock full of fuel for the pig. We quickly got into our final destination and cloaked, silently waiting.

By this time our employer had joined our comms and was giving us occasional updates on what was going on. If I were scoring him on our scale, I'd say he didn't communicate very often, but I'm pretty sure he was on two comms, so he gets a pass. But it was kind of frustrating not to be able to follow along with him. Normally I always know where my Hunter Killer is. It's a good thing to be mindful of as a pig. First of all, you need to ensure that your HK is within your jump range. Secondly, I think it's a very good idea to have redundancies. Maybe you'll notice something from Dotlan that your HK, who is focused on finding targets, misses because he's tuned into the Wild Tracker wavelength.

Anyway, the calls were coming in slowly. "I've got a Chimera, trying to track him down."

Five minutes.

"What happened with that Chimera?"

"Oh, he got away.

"Found a Wyvern. Trying to track him down."

They kept warping off though, to no fault of our employer.

Eventually, the operation was called. Our employer apologized for not being able to snag someone, but expressed his appreciation for moving 40 guys across the galaxy in such a short time. We all thanked him for the opportunity and let him know that apologies weren't necessary.

One guy, I think it was N'hoj Greb, one of Noir., mentioned that this is EVE. You get prepped, you do everything right and it falls apart because your prey is human. You're dealing with wildcards all the time in EVE. You can't be 100% certain about what's going to happen. It was definitely disappointing not to drop a 40 man fleet mainly composed of BLOPS onto a few carriers, but it was a successful operation, from our standpoint, and I think most of us had a lot of fun.