Friday night "Cass fleets" are practically a legend in Rote Kapelle.
Named after their regular FC, these fleets depart from Rote's home in TXW in Syndicate every Friday night (USTZ). Normally, 20 or so ships, for a long while the traditional doctrine was "fleet of sex": Deimoses and support, and the doctrine is called that for the reason you think it's called that. As Drakes have dropped out as a thing, the Rote FoS has been replaced with more or less traditional armor HACs: a mix of Deimoses, Zealots, Proteii, Legions, and the occasional Sacrilege, backed up by special teams. These usually include a Command Ship or two, a Loki, two Guardians, and a HIC, I usually try to get the Ashimmu slot for myself, and someone always feels the need to bring a goofy one-off e-war ship of some kind, too.
If by now you are thinking with 20 ships, that isn't a lot of DPS ships with all those specials, you're absolutely correct. Rote Kapelle: home of special snowflakes, and I obviously include myself in that count. Still, it's a fun fleet to fly in, we try to get ourselves killed, and it often ends hysterically. If we can find a major fight, we'll sometimes throw in a triage carrier to make sure our few DPS ships stay alive long enough to get some kills.
This FNCF was no exception to the rule: two Guardians, Damnation, Claymore, Loki, two Sacs, three Zealots, one Deimos, Proteus, Legion, Phobos, and Ashimmu. The goofy e-war ship of the night was a sensor damp-fitted Ishtar with Sentry drones lovingly named "Fuck Falcons." A couple of interceptors tagged along to scout and off we went.
We had traveled only four or five jumps from our home system when another pilot, inbound to our home system in another inty, reported that he had spotted a fleet of 20 or so Omen Navy Issues in Aridia. We were headed in the opposite direction but that was a problem we could solve easily. "Keep eyes on them", the scout was told and we started rushing in that direction. As we traveled, the FC noticed that we were light on DPS even for a normal FNCF. Our Phobos was ordered to switch to a HAC, and I offered to switch as well, and given the affirmative, both of us docked up and traded for Deimoses. Now with 11 heavy and two light DPS ships, we rushed toward Aridia.
As we traveled, we were almost disappointed; our scout lost contact with the fleet for a couple of minutes before we learned it had taken a right turn toward Genesis. Ripard has -- no exaggeration -- almost 4000 bookmarks in systems where he's traveled before. But this little pocket of Genesis was quite literally somewhere I'd never been, deep in Amarr low-sec on the southern pocket about ten jumps from the New Eden gate. The ONI fleet -- now reported to include three Oneiroses, was reported to be moving deeper into this area. It was Unprovoked Aggression. "Do these guys live around here?" We didn't know. It's not our usual roaming grounds. But it soon seemed so: we started picking up single UA pilots in systems we passed through and soon assumed they had eyes on us. Would they want to fight our gang?
At first, the answer looked like no; they opened a bit of range and we found out why: they wanted to add two more Oneiroses, making their total count four, maybe five. Our triage pilot for the night, Ben Booley, heroically started rushing a mid-point cyno into position, then jumped an alt Archon to a not-lonely-enough system to support us if needed. Thanks to one of our scouts, we found the gate they were holding on and set up on one side of it... only to hear that they were setting up in their side. They wanted us to jump into them.
Faint heart never won fair maiden. In we went.
Their Oneiroses had significant range away from the gate and were being screened by that wall of ONIs. The big question: could we break an ONI under that kind of rep? We decloaked a couple of baitier ships to encourage them to aggress (they did). Then we burned in to find out. Meanwhile, our "Damptar" went to work, damping out several of the Oneiroses and forcing them closer. With the gate guns on our side and with some overheated guns, it turned out the answer was yes: two ONIs went down on their side. Meanwhile, they started attacking our four tackle ships, killing two inties. Our Damptar dragged two Oneiroses in close where our scram-fit ships could pin them and we turned DPS on them, killing both. We then got some luck, a Huginn that pulled closer than he should have to ensure the inty kills flew well into our kill-box and we obliged him.(1)
The next phase of the battle was a bit of a brawl. We had broken their reps, but they struggled to break ours; our Guardian pilots were doing an absolutely masterful job. We lost another tackler on our side, to an Omen, ONI, Oneiros, and Loki on theirs. "Spread points, they're gonna run," someone said, so spread them we did, but no. They weren't running. Their reinforcements arrived, in the form of several tech three cruisers. This proved a costly mistake. We quickly switched points them and held them down hard. Then the blood-bath began. With only one or two enemy logi on field, we switched targets to the low-resist ONIs.
One two three four five six seven of them went down in two minutes, an ONI popping every 10 or 15 seconds, then we finished this string of death with an AB Zealot. A few random people drawn by the bubble on the map showed up, some to whore on mails, some apparently intent on trying to get close enough to light cynos. Our side and their side popped the latter together where we found them. With us holding several of their tech3s hostage, they'd soon have to decide to either sacrifice these unfortunates or escalate.
They chose "escalate". One of the new tech3s lit a cyno and a triage carrier jumped in. We counter-escalated, bringing in our own.
Before their carrier could get its bearings, our Proteus scrammed another Oneiros and we put it down, pushing through its thin buffer with overheated guns. The last one fled. Now it was our fleet, our little rabble of their tackled tech3s, and their triage carrier. And that's where things stayed for ten... freakin'... minutes. We tried heroically to break this carrier's self rep, refit neuts from our own carrier, applied DPS to him, applied DPS to our trapped victims to make him spend cap that way... nothing worked. We found out later that it was because the thing had an enormous tank, dual CONCORD self-reps, was using boosters, and was generally hugely expensive. Good show to the pilot!
Meanwhile, a couple of randoms warped in, a pretty damn good Vengeance pilot who dove into the fray popping our drones (we managed to alpha through him despite triage reps) and a mostly PvE Drake with no prop mod. What the latter's plan was, I couldn't tell you. Maybe he only had a few days of insurance left. And yet this triage carrier lived on and on and on.
Now it was our turn to decide to let our victims go, or escalate. We also choose "escalate", using the same mid-point the triage carrier had arrived from to bring in two super carriers and a Moros to break the Archon's tank. They counter-escalated, bringing in a second triage carrier. But their communication was a little bit off and we didn't give them time to correct it, crushing first one, then the other. A Rook arrived, apparently intent on trying to break our reps but unfortunately decided to warp to zero and landed after the second triage carrier died. Needless to say, he didn't last long. We turned our attention to our captives, starting with CSM7 member Alekseyev Karrde in a Legion.(2)
They chose to escalate again, bringing in yet another triage carrier and a number of shiny battleships. It proved another costly mistake, but the new arrivals managed to put an end to our Damptar. It also proved far too big a temptation for our remaining outlying watchers, who dove in to whore on the expensive kill-mails only to be made into kill-mails themselves. ;-)
After smiting the new triage carrier, one two three four of these shiny battleships fell under our guns, plus a well-tanked Ashimmu and an ONI that had lived from the very start of the battle long enough to see the first triage carriers arrive. Then it was time to kill our last couple of hostage tech3s and that ended the fight with many GFs all around.
Here's the full battle report:
(1) Anyone who wonders why I often say faction webs on Huginns and Rapiers make the ships "more survivable"? This is why. He didn't have to be this close to us. It was the fact that he was that got him killed.
(2) One hopes that Alek will tell NinjaTurtle that I Play This Game(tm). ;-)