Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Rise Of The Black Ops?

I usually don't write about null sec warfare because about the only time I spend in null is when I pop out of a Thera wormhole as I'm entering it into Tripwire. However, I do like cloaky ships. With those two conflicting impulses at work, I'll demonstrate why I'm a carebear.

When I first looked at the new sovereignty mechanics, I didn't think of the trollceptor. I thought about the mechanics as if two medium to large sized player entities were engaged in a conflict over a constellation. That's right, a constellation. With control of a system or a station determined by fighting throughout a constellation, I figure that the natural theater of operations is the constellation. If an alliance really wants a station, does it make any sense to let the opposition control the other 5-7 systems in the constellation? I don't think so, but then again, my only experience with system control is watching the Amarr and Minmatar fight for control of the war zone.

I figure that in the new normal coming in June, stargate control within constellations will prove key to controlling sovereignty and winning sov fights, at least in the early days. If I can think of bubbling all the gates, so will others. The next step in the evolution of combat is how to negate the impact of the warp disruption bubble. If the forces are large enough, they can fight for physical control of the stargates. But what about the side losing the gate fights? If the objective is important enough, they will want to keep fighting.

The obvious first answer is the use of interdiction immune ships like interceptors and strategic cruisers. I say obvious because the first thing everyone thought of was the trollceptor, partially because of its immunity. But I've always gotten the impression that strategic cruiser fleets are good at support and kiting. Would such a fleet be a good first choice for attacking a defended point in space? Remember, using the entosis link means the ship has to stay in range of the objective, can't receive remote reps (or assists of any kind), and can't warp away for two minutes (assuming the use of a tech 2 module).

When I envision a big constellation battle, I'd expect to see the attacking force putting up POS in the the first system targeted for takeover. Not only does that give the attacking force safe places to refit and repair, but also serve as a point to launch ships into other systems in the constellation. That's right, I'm thinking of an attacking force using cynos to bridge heavy forces past the defender's gate camps. I know, I know, one side can just post large forces in each constellation and crush the defender. But I'm thinking of more fluid situations where losses may make such a strategy untenable. Besides, ever hear the term defeat in detail? If a good sized war is happening, the attacker may try to get the defender to commit to such a strategy and then slowly whittle away at the defender in a war of attrition.

Given a situation in which an attacker with supercapital superiority initiates a constellation invasion and succeeds in reinforcing a station or iHub, I'd expect the defender to put up cynosural system jammers. Sure, the attacker can still jump through gates with an unstoppable apex force, but that force can only influence one system and one capture point at a time. More importantly, that force is slow. Very slow. I get the impression that control fights will require quickness and maneuverability.

What isn't slow is a black ops group. I imagine that in the new sov capture system, a black ops group will prove quite effective. Cynosural system jammers don't affect covert cynos so the group can jump past gate camps. I also have to imagine that a tech 3 fleet with bomber support is a much scarier proposition than a tech 3 fleet by itself. Add in the ability to interfere with the enemy's entosis links with Falcons (jamming) and Arazus (sensor dampening) and I think a well-run black ops group can cause the opposition some serious problems.

And if the enemy is large enough to stop the black ops group and doesn't have the protection of cyno jammers? That's where a reserve force sitting on a titan comes in handy. Of course, the enemy may want the reserve force deployed because they have their own plans. The enemy doesn't always sit around passively waiting to get stomped. That's why they're called the enemy.

As I mentioned before, I'm a carebear. What I just outlined is possibly entirely wrong and the null sec entities will just bash into one another in big set piece battles like they did under Dominion sov. But somehow, I don't think that will happen. If I'm even partially right, I see the use of the black ops battleship becoming more important in sov warfare come June.


  1. When I read about it I thought of the new Brave clones popping up in coalitions. Set a bunch of newbies lose in cheap and fast frigates, dessies, and cruisers. They aren't going to win, but the new system plays on mobility. They can harass an entire constellation easily if their only goal is to string out defenders instead of a stand up fight. Hit a timer, run, hit a timer, run. Then, once the defenders are chasing them, walk your big guns right into the constellation through the gates for stand up fights if they happen.

  2. > I think a well-run black ops group can cause the opposition some serious problems.

    Yes, but more as harassment to push down a target's indexes before fighting for sov.

    Bombers are fragile, covops fit T3s are not terribly threatening to a real fleet, and blops BS are way too expensive. And the all-blops idea has no logistics, which are needed to continue a fight even if the entosis ship can't get reps. The mobility and covert cyno ability doesn't win you anything without grid control.

    I think it's very unlikely that your idea will have much of any role fighting for systems. But the blops team is going to have a major resurgence as the pre-invasion task force. Turning a strong system full of happy miners and ratters keeping defense multipliers high into a low-index wasteland that's easy to knock down is gonna be SOP.