Last night I lead two fleets to TEST Alliance's staging system in Otsela. Good fights were had and killmails received on both sides. Full report after the break!
After logging on last night I sent my cov-ops alt out to scout the various staging systems in the Forge region. Most were relatively quiet apart from TEST's. It appeared that a few hostiles were attempting to fight the morass of random ships TEST had on its staging station.
I formed up Railgun Thoraxes and we headed over to get in on the action. We had 4 Thoraxes, 2 Scythes and a Crow.
As we arrived in system I saw that a neutral had challenged TEST to a thunderdome in a belt. We immediately warped to the belt but only caught the tale-end of the fight and killed only a Prophecy.
At this point, TEST pinged for shield Oracles and Rail Brutixes along with Scythes and Scimitars. I knew that these ships were more than our Thoraxes could handle and we wouldn't be able to fight them. Both the Oracle and Rail Brutix are shield kiting ships with good damage projection and solid tracking. They also have very little tank. While the Brutix can shoot out to around 80km with Spike, the Oracle is limited to about 60km with scorch and large pulse lasers. Our railgun Thoraxes like to fight at around 30-40km and kite with Microwarpdrives. Obviously, the Oracle fleet was just a battlecruiser version of our cruiser fleet, with more numbers to boot.
With this in mind, I reformed us into sniping Tornadoes along with Cormorants for anti-frigate support. All up we had 4 Tornados, 2 Cormorants and 1 Crow. The Cormorants were sniper Railgun fit and are meant to kill light tackle while the Tornadoes shoot enemy DPS and logistics.
After reshipping we Titan-bridged back into their staging system. At this point they were still forming so we would randomly see Oracles and other shield tanked ships undock and dock again. Our Tornadoes all loaded max-dps ammo (EMP) and scan resolution scripts and we proceeded to start sniping things on the undock before warping off after a kill. We ended volleying 2 Oracles and a Blackbird. Unfortunately TEST does not seem to understand the concept of 'Alpha'.
Irritatingly this all occured in low-sec so we took a considerable amount of fire from station sentry guns. This forced various Tornadoes and Cormorants to warp away while we were trying to kill things we couldn't volley.
After our initial kills on their undock, TEST wised up and started using an instawarp to a POS. They had a Titan logged in so I assumed they were landing safely inside the POS shields. However after scanning the celestial cluster there were no Oracles. At this point I was starting to worry that they hadn't formed up to fight us but were pursuing another objective. I was keen to extract maximum kills before they slipped away.
I parked my cov-ops at the Titan POS and waited. Sure enough, another Oracle warped to the POS and then to a gate. I followed. The Oracle jumped through and warped to another gate and jumped through. I followed again. I was now in Osaa and, shockingly, TEST's battlecruiser fleet was in local. Obviously they had decided not to form in their staging system because of our ~8 man sniper gang!
I ordered the Tornadoes to follow into Osaa while I used my covops to set up a warp in. Just as we jumped into system, their entire fleet undocked from the station. We arrived on grid around 90km away. We aligned out and I started calling targets. Unfortunately we only had 4 Tornadoes so while we had a considerable amount of alpha, our overall DPS was not very high. As such, while we killed one Oracle on our initial warp-in, the second caught reps from their logistics support group of around 7-8 Scythes/Scimitars.
After warping off we warped back at around 90km. This time I ordered us to load scan resolution scripts into our Sebos. I also got all the Tornadoes to lock up 3 random targets to disrupt their logistics broadcasts. Doing this meant their entire Oracle fleet was probably broadcasting for reps before we even fired our first volley, a nightmare situation for a logistics team. In any case, it worked and we started killing Oracles in two Volleys.
At the same time, I ordered my Cormorants to free fire on their frigate tackle. Fortunately they only had two tackle frigates and both were tech 1 so the Cormorants were able to stop them from burning straight at us.
We repeated our warp-ins and warp-outs a couple of times, not really because of the Oracles' DPS but because of station guns and enemy tackle getting too close.
During the whole fight the Oracles were too far away to shoot us. The Brutixes did load long range ammo and shoot us but they didn't kill anything. They did however make some of our Tornadoes warp off prematurely.
In Osaa I believe we killed 6 Oracles and a Scimitar. The Scimitar decided to stay on field to loot and got caught by our Crow pilot. We lost 1 Tornado who decided to warp back at the station at 0 to repair (despite their whole fleet being at the station). We also lost 1 Cormorant to the station's sentry guns.
All up we killed 9 Oracles, 1 Prophecy, 1 Scimitar, a Blackbird and a few miscellaneous frigates and destroyers. Not bad for a 1 squad gang!
Admittedly TEST were/are very bad. Their FC never warped them off after we continually landed at our optimals but outside of theirs. What he should have done was launched combat probes and try to warp to us at 0. Whenever we warped at any range over 50km he should have warped off. On the other hand, we were outnumbered 3-1.
Better luck next time TEST!
Are Tier 3 battlecruisers useless now?
Despite our success on this occasion, I had thought that tier 3 battlecruisers had been seriously nerfed due the warp-speed acceleration changes introduced in Rubicon. The point of the tier 3 BCs is that they have excellent DPS and excellent mobility. For the most part they are meant to either kite or snipe, not brawl.
As they now enter and leave warp a lot more slowly, many have decided that tier 3 battlecruisers are terrible and shouldn't be used. I can understand this. For example, the enemy FC now has a few extra seconds to warp his fleet out when you land 100km in sniping tornadoes. This is because you cannot target anything until you leave warp. Kiting Oracles must now wait longer before they can turn on their MWDs after leaving warp, allowing enemy tackle more time to react and burn in. Finally, the increase to the warp-speed acceleration of interceptors (and the increased popularity of interceptors) means hostile fleets will find it a lot easier to tackle them.
I think these are all valid concerns. (Un)fortunately(?) there wasn't much scope to test this on this fleet. TEST was just so bad that they never really pressured the Tornadoes by warping onto us at 0 or swarming us with tackle.
On the other hand, tier 3 battlecruisers are still relatively cheap compared to HACs and tech IIIs. They still provide battleship DPS on a cruiser sized hull. As such they are still incredibly useful, especially to newer/poorer alliances. All in all I don't think they are going to be completely useless but they are a lot more vulnerable and newer FC's/pilots should be careful!