Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chistmas in Ani: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

For the second year in a row, I managed to lose the most powerful combat ship I could fly over Christmas.  While painful, this year events turned out a lot better than the events of last year.

The events began after the latest Sansha Nation incursion in the Ani constellation.  After the victory of the anti-Incursion fleets, my corporation the Khumaak Flying Circus began operations out of the Nakugard V, Moon 12 station in support of Krusual tribe interests in the constellation.  On 23 December Rosewalker was contacted by Krusual agent Odor Bonnevekin after a Minmatar Republic convoy was ambushed and wiped out by the notorious Angel Cartel fleet commander Hoborak Moon.  The mission was to eliminate the Angel Cartel fleet as a threat, and to terminate Hoborak Moon with extreme prejudice.

The battle began with the standard corporation tactic of warping in Rosewalker in his Maelstrom to draw the attention of the Angel commander while Wandering Rose would follow a minute later with her command Hurricane.  The plan worked, with Rosewalker landing far away from the tackling frigates and led the Angel Cyclones away from Wandering Rose's landing point.  In the wild fight that followed, the Cyclones melted in a withering crossfire but the capsuleers suffered heavy drone losses as the Angels did everything they could to tackle the battleship.  In the end, the Circus gang destroyed the remaining Marcharial/Cynabel force and held the field.

Moving quickly, Wandering Rose moved her gang to the next acceleration gate and warped into the next deadspace pocket, catching the Angel fleet in the pocket without any tackling frigates.  The recent advances in destroyer technology made the Angel Thrashers a primary target in a fight where the crews barely needed to sweat.  By this time the Circus force had the Angel commander off-balance and they warped into the last deadspace pocket a full 50 km from where Hoborak Moon had stationed his Dramiels.  Given the drone losses suffered earlier, the Dramiels could have caused serious problems if they had been stationed in range.  Instead, the tackle did not last long and the mobility of the capsuleer ships was enough to finally put an end to Moon's career.

The intention was to give the crews liberty over the weekend, but that was not to be.  In the early hours of 24 December the government on Nakugard V received a distress call from an InterBus ship carrying passengers coming home for Christmas.  Elements of the Sasha incursion were still in the system and battling with the Angel Cartel.  The InterBus transport was caught in the crossfile and heavily damaged, with its ability to warp destroyed.  Rosewalker took the call, recalling the crews but still leaving the station short-handed.

If the enemy were just the Angel Cartel, the gang would have been okay.  But with Sansha's Nation involved, things got a bit complicated, as Sansha's ships dish out different types of damage.  Ships set up to tank fire from the Angel Cartel are at a disadvantage when facing off against the heavy EMP damage output by the Nation's Nightmares and Succubi.  The problem was compounded by the fact that in the initial engagement with the Sansha forces guarding the acceleration gates to their base that Rosewalker was able to snipe from beyond the effective range of the Sansha forces.  That produced overconfidence that later proved fatal.

Given a choice of attacking an Angel Cartel fleet or anyone else, Wandering Rose will always pick the Angel Cartel.  So after neutralizing the Sansha forces, the Circus gang turned its attention on the Angel forces.  The effect of the loss of  Hoborak Moon the day before was noticeable as Wandering Rose and Rosewalker sliced through the next two deadspace pockets to the damaged Interbus ship like a hot knife through butter.  At this point everything went according to plan.  But as often happens, Wandering Rose became a little too ambitious.  Instead of sticking to the plan, she decided to attempt to wipe out the remnant of the Sansha forces in Nakugard.

The Sansha forces were set up on the exit point waiting on the Circus ships.  The Sansha commander immediately concentrated on Wandering Rose's Hurricane pouring fire into the ship as two tacklers webbed the ship down.  Although the drones were eventually able to destroy the two frigates and the main guns from both ships were able to somewhat reduce the damage coming from the Sansha gang, Wandering Rose was forced to warp off.  In hindsight, Rosewalker should have warped away as well.

Instead, Rosewalker aligned to a planet and decided to punish the Sansha fleet as much as possible.  It could be that Wandering Rose could rejoin him before he was forced to warp out.  Unnoticed in all the fighting was the fact that the Sansha commander had held a third tackling frigate in reserve.  A tackling frigate fitted with a scram, not webbers.  By the time Rosewalker realized his mistake, it was too late.  The battle then became a race between whether Rosewalker's drones could kill the Succubus before the Sansha could kill the Maelstrom.  The anxiety increased as Rosewalker's capacitor for his shield booster ran dry while the Succubus was still in shields.  Rosewalker continued to pulse his booster whenever he had the cap, but he began to hit structure while the Succubus was at half armor.  Eventually the Sansha fire was too much and the Maelstrom exploded in a blinding flash as escape pods spouted forth from the stricken ship.

Sometimes capsuleers are seen as uncaring to non-capsuleers.  After all, if they die, they just wind up in another body, so why shouldn't they put their ships at risk?  In this case, I could afford the loss of a Maelstrom.  I even learned something from its loss.  And Wandering Rose did go back and pick up the passengers from the InterBus ship and return them safely to the station.  But people seldom think of the crews of the ships.  As of this time we are still conducting rescue operations, but hope is growing slim of finding anymore pods.  And given the nature of the foe we faced, I really hope those we didn't find didn't survive.

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