Sunday, 23 November 2014

Bah, I feel like Liddell Hart

Most people have heard of the Blitzkrieg, the terrifying, tremendous revolution in military thinking that Germany introduced at the start of the Second World War. The idea is to punch through the enemy line by concentrating force on a narrow section of the enemy front (called the "Spearpoint") then drive tanks and motorised support through the gap to get behind the rest of the enemy front line soldiers and overrun their rear support areas like canteens ammo dumps and command bases.

Far fewer people know the story of the origins of the sensational new military doctrine.

A British officer, Captain Basil Liddell Hart, invented it and attempted to convince the rather traditional officials at the Ministry of Defence that it would work. Having recently been through the First World War where aggressive audacity was brutally punished by defensive positions based on machine guns and barbed wire there weren't many takers. It was in Germany where there was more of an appetite for a fresh approach.

Tank warfare guru Liddell Hart

In null sec it's very difficult to get fleet doctrines adopted by one's alliance. Theorycrafting doctrines is a job a lot of people want, so often it gets allocated by seniority even if the people coming up with the ideas are not active FCs. There are a lot of moving parts to implementing a doctrine from importing the ships, persuading pilots to own one, reimbursing them and of course taking them out and using them correctly.

So like a lot of FCs I come up with good ideas from time to time that my side leaves in the In Tray to moulder and gather dust.

While I was in Test I tried quite hard to get the alliance to adopt sniper cormorants. It was a real struggle, I got kinda half way and even ran a few cormorant fleets but people weren't turning up in the right ships and none of the other FCs were using the doctrine so it withered and died. I even took it against Mr Vee where I was able to out-manoeuvre his Jaguar fleet and keep the Cormorants in range to shoot while being out of range to get shot but we didn't have enough people in the right ships to apply effective dps. A few weeks later CFC introduced its very successful Harpy fleet - small rail sniper ships just like Cormorants which have been a spectacular success ever since and remain one of the CFC's most used doctrines.

Tonight we formed against NC. in Fountain to fight over a timer that they didn't want to contest. They formed in drop and blap Claws, a new doctrine not seen in null sec before. Eve Uni used to fly a similar Thrasher doctrine. The idea is you land, align, shoot then warp off, the whole process taking under 3 seconds. The Claws get one shot off, with the very high alpha of artillery and then are gone before anyone can shoot back (unless specially designed for fast lock). Even our instacane was not able to lock them in time and get a shot in.

The devastating Claw class interceptor.
The Claws did really well, killing about 16 CFC ships including this tengu. While we balled up in our blob we watched them perch above us, pick a target then warp down to it and kill it. For example, this scimitar. Note how negligible is the damage caused by the other interceptors in the gang. It was all about the Claws.

No Claws were lost in this battle.

Why am I feeling frustrated?

I'll just quote myself from a post I put in the Bastion forums after my friend Idoru and me had been theorycrafting on voice comms:

Here's a high skill, high damage variation. In this you don't point at all, you simply kill them. It's a concept for a fleet of only Clawtys. 576 volley damage at 27 km, 288 volley damage at 38 km (most inties can't even lock that far!). With close range ammo they do 1008 each volley damage allowing a fleet of 20 to warp to the bad guys, one shot a cruiser, then warp out immediately before most things can even lock them.
(Bastion forums, June 11th 2014)

Now I know how Liddell Hart must have felt when the German tanks chased the British Expeditionary Force out of France in 1940 using his ideas on Manoeuvre Warfare.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Jumping is hard now.

FC: is anyone not clear to jump?

[20:51:18] BuffFresh > x
[20:51:19] Althurus Vendrius > x
[20:51:20] Odin Valknir > x 3hrs
[20:51:24] Jelle K > x
[20:51:24] Krestianin > x
[20:51:27] THE PROPHIT > X
[20:51:32] Minchurra > the red one you mouthbreathers
[20:51:32] Hirotakimora > the timeeerrrrr
[20:51:33] Julia Starling > the orange one
[20:51:33] Odin Valknir > yes thats reactivation timer
[20:51:38] Odin Valknir > YES THATS THE ORANGE ONE
[20:51:44] Raven Seer > rip
[20:51:48] Zen'ya Zoku > o7
[20:51:51] Odin Valknir > my blue is 23hrs
[20:51:55] Havoc Faux Amatin > why is ccp making us math hard
[20:52:14] h4kun4 > they wanna make eve a geek game again
[20:52:18] JohnyRingo > Odin Valknir you need a break lol
[20:52:30] h4kun4 > ohwait
[20:52:35] JohnyRingo > cuz its gonna go up now..ways up
[20:52:53] Odin Valknir > i cant jump till the orange timer goes away anyway
[20:52:58] Odin Valknir > so i may as well drop from fleet
[20:53:03] Adrie Atticus > hide in the tower
[20:53:16] Odin Valknir > my orange timer is 3hrs so lol

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

I've started a corp: Officer Training School

I'm delighted to say I'm giving running a corp a try. I've had experience in previous games of running guilds - in Star Wars Galaxies where we acquired a certain notoriety and in Rifts where we couldn't quite progress in the raids fast enough to retain our useful players. I also co-founded a WoW guild that was server first for several years.

The Officer Training School is a corp built around a playstyle - intense interest in Eve tactics with a bunch of enthusiasts testing out different doctrines tactics and fits. Nullsec is a great environment for this kind of play as we see all sorts of pvp from big fleet fights to small skirmishes and solo combat.

Anyone interested in joining or simply in talking to us join in game channel OffTS

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Blackbird, blackbird

But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

- Wallace Stevens

The blackbird ecm cruiser is one of the delights of Eve gameplay. In the CFC coalition we use it to play a minor role in our ecm fleets. These mostly rely on Celestises and do jamming. Personally I love the knowledge that by jamming someone I've ruined their night.

In full tidi, which applied for the op where I took there pictures, a jam cycle lasts 200 seconds after which it takes about 50 seconds for a tengu to lock up a target. 4 minutes of another player's life, cruelly annihilated every time my modules work.

Our blob will block out the sun!

The brightness of the right 2 jams shows they are active, jamming out two hostile FCs

With our info links up my range was 246km. Hard to jam Slippery Petes though

Woot, all those tengu wrecks!

In the end I collected 81 million isk worth of salvage and loot.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

A correction and an apology.

I said in my last article The Bastion has always aimed to be a rapid deployment alliance. This is not quite right. We aimed to be a force projection alliance.

Packing up our carriers with ships, go somewhere, and get an early foothold is a little different from responding rapidly.

Of course in Phoebe that again might get revisited.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

So Someone Tied Lead Weights To The Bottom Of All The Carriers...

(Internal post I thought might interest the rest of you: )

Carrier jump range reduced to 5 LY  with perfect skills and a cooldown timer on chain jumps.

I actually rather like this but of course it has big implications for our alliance.

First rapid pangalactic deployment needs to be reassessed. We may need to deploy to Delve by flying to Delve in interceptors then using local resources rather than bringing a carrier full of ships each. Effectively JF's may take over the strategic role of Carriers with an expectation that people defending a broad space (like Vale to Delve) will need to have ship stashes at multiple locations.

Next we are now a real flank. We are right bang next to PL/NC. space and the rest of the CFC can't get caps here fast. So our flank, consisting of Razor, us and Co2 gains tremendous strategic significance. We must be a rock, a real bastion.

And here's why I like it - the challenge, the danger. We really could lose all our space if we are asleep at the wheel the way the old Northern Coalition did. We can;t count on a massive blob to save us.

At the same time it's a real chance to shine. If we can be the rapid deployment alliance that we've always aspired to be and which we've achieved so successfully in the past then we can show the rest of the CFC and the rest of Eve how amazing we are.

It's game on. This is CCP's attempt to make holding an empire that's an entire side of the map big impossible. CCP's attempt to break our coalition.

Challenge accepted.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

BB#59: A fleet commander's guide to bookmarks

The current blog banter is on terrain. That's a pretty big topic and I'm going to focus on one small part of it for one small part of the community.

A fleet commander has a big learning curve. One in fact that never truly stops because fights are so different and the complexities such that permutations are endless. I wouldn't want to put anyone off starting just by grabbing a few of your friends and roaming about until you find someone to shoot. I do think though that after you've run a few fleets it's natural to want to take it to the next level.

Once you've decided you want to improve and develop an edge over other FCs then one of the ways you can do it is by collecting bookmarks. Tactical bookmarks are one of the most important tools in a good FCs box and great FCs will usually have extensive collections of bookmarks in the systems they usually fight.

The simplest use of bookmarks in nullsec is for travelling without getting bombed or bubbled. Make a bookmark 200 km to 250km off a stargate and you can warp a fleet of ships to that gate without worrying about a dictor jumping in and bubbling the gate, or decloaking and bubbling which can be a set up for a pipe bombing attempt. (This is where a bubble traps your fleet all on the same spot and bombers decloak and launch bombs about 9 seconds before you land. You land, you're trapped, 1 second later the fuse burns out on the bombs and they blow you up).

In Eve a tactical grid is by default around 250km - 300km in radius. For this reason it's best not to make your grid bookmarks over 250km from the stargate as you may be unable to see hostiles at the gate from your perch. (Perch is another name for tactical bookmark). You also don't want to make your bookmark so close that you can't jump in then warp up to your tactical. As ships appear 15km around a gate this means the minimum safe distance is 150km (minimum warp) +15 km or 165km off the gate. Any closer and you risk leaving some ships behind when you fleet warp up to your tactical.

Tactical bookmarks may be made further out if you're anticipating a big fleet fight. All those objects on the tactical grid extend the grid and may make it possible to be on grid while a lot further out - 500km - 700km and still on grid is not rare. So if you're setting up to attack or defend a structure you want to make several bookmarks around the structure at warpable range as well as a couple relatively deep if expecting a big fight.

One of my favourite setups is this:
200km behind
200km in front
200km left
200km right
200km above
200km below
(all relative to the sun. In other words if you're at the 200km behind bm and you look at the sun you'll see your starting point 200km away right in front of the sun).

With the starting point (stargate or whatever) this gives you 7 warpable points in a diamond shape. Since you can warp to any of these at range this allows superlative mobility around the grid. Suppose you have ships with 100km range and your enemy is in ships with 50 km range. Set up 90km above. He'll jump in. Start shooting when he decloaks. If he's faster he'll probably burn right at you. When he gets to a little outside his effective range warp your guys to a new sniping spot. If you warp to the Left 200 bookmark at range 100km that should put you about 100km from him again and you can resume sniping. He may try instead to probe you and warp. Well you can anticipate him warping so have your guys align and as soon as he starts to warp his fleet warp yours. He'll land where you were, you land 100km off and start sniping again.

Fights between experienced FCs are often cat and mouse games of positional tussling. My advice is never concede positional advantage when you don't have to. Keep bouncing around the grid until the fight is on your terms.

If you don't have bookmarks prepared then you can use fleet members or alts to provide warp ins. A cov ops is a very good alt for this. Always have them moving so when people warp to them your cov ops won't get decloaked. Interceptors are great for providing positional warpins even against fleets with good damage projection. Against ishtars which, depending on fit, usually hit out to about 80-100km I used an interceptor to fly 120km behind them giving our FC the ability to warp to me at 100km and land 20km off the ishtars. You can even dangerzone your mobile Warp To ship into the hostile fleets range so long as you coordinate hitting the Fleet Warp with telling him to warp out well.

Making bookmarks is often done solo and painstakingly. A very fast interceptor is the best ship - a Claw or some such with nanos in the lows. You may prefer using a covops, I have a overdrive fit Cheetah I sometimes use for this. The Cheetah is safer for bookmarking hostile poses.

No description of terrain use would be complete without mention of one of the most important in-game aids - the system map. Looking at the geography of the system, the layout of the planets, stations and stargates helps a lot when preparing bookmarks there for fighting. In fact there's a technique that can be quite useful based on system geography. For snipers and bombers it can be nice to have a bookmark saved with where it aligns to in the name. Suppose you make a bookmark 50km behind a stargate in line with planet 5. Sit there in bombers. Enemy fleet jumps in. Align P5, decloak, launch bombs, squad warp the bombers to P5 (or to an in-line safe that you had previously bookmarked). Your bombers instawarp which not only protects them but means your bombs won't get aborted due to hostile fire so much.

Have fun with terrain if you're an FC! It's one of the things that distinguishes a good FC.