Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bombs away

Since I'm in a battle report mood, let's do one more and then I'll go on to other things.

Unlike my usual occasional BRs, this is one where Rote Kapelle lost, and lost quite badly.  The kill report itself is very confused with three separate fights, so I'll have to explain the relevant bit.  Scroll down some and you'll see that Rote lost four attack battle cruisers, a cruiser, a Scimitar, and a little pile of pods.  The aggressors for this particular fight were a UsurperDOT Sabre and twelve or so stealth bombers, ten of them Hounds.

I wouldn't normally talk about bombing runs, but this one was executed with such slick precision that it deserves a closer look.  Unfortunately because of the ship I was in, I had to watch the whole thing without being able to contribute or help the victims at all.  So I'll help in the one way I can: describe what was done to us so that you can learn from it and perhaps prevent it from happening to a pile of your ships.  Yeah, this post is mostly for null-sec newbies.  You vets can move on to the next post if you like.  Anyway, here's a diagram of the attack:


The white figure in the lower left represents the stargate our fleet was warping toward.  The red arrow at the top center points back toward the gate we were warping in from.  Both yellow lines are 30km long.  On the stargate was our scout.  It's typical for small gang fleets to have a scout and for this scout to run one jump ahead of the fleet.  In this case, a Sabre with a cloak (probably fit similarly to this Flycatcher FOTW from 2011) was sitting at the location marked by the bottom of the red arrow.  As soon as he saw Local starting to fill up (with our fleet), he decloaked and launched one bubble (marked by the blue circle closest to the stargate figure).  Then he began flying in the direction of the red arrow.

At the edge of the first bubble, he deployed a can with one round of ammunition in it (the white dot on the diagram).  He then continued along the path of the red arrow until he was about 7000m from his dropped can and dropped a second bubble (marked by the blue circle farther from the stargate figure).  Meanwhile, our fleet was in warp.

Bubble mechanics dictate that if a bubble is dropped before you go into warp toward a celestial and the path of your warp will cross the location of the bubble, you will land at the edge of it instead of at the celestial.  Your inertia will then carry you a certain distance into the bubble defined by your ship's mass; heavy ships are carried farther.  In this case, our fleet was relatively light attack BCs which were carried only a short distance into the first bubble.  Our fleet is marked by purple dots on the diagram.  But because the second bubble was launched to overlap the first, our fleet was fully enveloped.

And that's when the first wave of bombers decloaked.  They're the red dots on the diagram.  They all start cloaked about 35km from the can, using their directional scanner to see our fleet come in.  When our fleet appears on short scan (and once the Sabre's can is deployed), they align toward the can.  When the can is a little under 31km away, they decloak and launch their bombs.  The first wave of bombers is about seven ships, all with Shrapnel bombs.  These seven kill two pods traveling with the fleet (don't ask), all the attack BCs and the Scimitar, leaving only a Rupture alive and badly damaged.

As the first wave of bombers decloak, the second wave of bombers (four to five) align toward the can.  As the first wave of bombs is about to land, they decloak (by this time also 31km from the can) and release their bombs.  They kill three more pods and the Rupture.  Meanwhile, the first wave of bombers warps off to the celestial that is lined up on the far side of their advance.  The second wave of bombers follows them as soon as their bombs are released.  Seven bombers is the size of a typical bomber wave, and all bombers must use the same type of bomb.  More bombers in a wave, or differing types of bombs, and you risk the detonation of the first few bombs destroying the others.  Bombs are highly resistant to their own type of damage and have no resistance at all to other types.

So that's it: a more or less perfectly-executed bombing run.  The hardest job is the Sabre's and this Sabre pilot did his job well.  Comments?  Questions?  Additions?

23 comments:

  1. So what could you have done to prevent that from happening?

    -Null-sec newbie

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    Replies
    1. Not warping straight to the gate would be enough. But you'd have to do so in every system with some unknown people in local.

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    2. If I understand correctly the moment the fleet is in warp and the first bubble is deployed correctly you can only hope that the run is executed badly or be in a ship that tanks bombs well.

      Only things I can think of that would work are in advance. Having your own scout smell the trap. Warp via a bookmark at an unexspected angle to the gate or maybe have a bubble of your own to screw the bomber warpin.

      Its all theory though i've nearly zero null experience and would be happy if corrected - bombing looks quite interesting to me, a very strategic and planningheavy method of combat.

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    3. Never warp direct from gate to gate.

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    4. Scout ahead and dont warp blind?

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    5. Their +1 scout could have waited on the outgate until the fleet was fully in warp. He would have spotted the sabre decloak and warn the FC not to initiate warp.

      But generally speaking that would be really boring to always do. So generally scouts only make sure to do this when their spidey sense is tingling. i.e. he saw some bombers on d-scan. He knows the people in local tend to do this kind of stuff. ("of sound mind","venga","xxxPizzaxx", etc..) or there are like 10 people in local but there is no station and he isn't seeing ships on d-scan.

      It's mainly a risk assessment thing. 9 out of 10 times it doesn't happen. But that 10th time kind of stings. Which is why it takes some experience and knowledge of the area/corps&alliances to make a good assessment. However even then it just occasionally happens.

      The only way to keep ships safe in eve is to never undock them at all :)

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    6. The only prevention for something like this is to smell out the trap before the fleet is in warp. Depending on the skill of the sabre pilot and the discipline of the bombing fleet there is no action anyone can actually take once the fleet is in warp to avoid the bombs. An exceptional bombing force actually launches the bombs before anyone lands on grid and the bombs detonate the moment you land on grid.

      Every fleet moving gate to gate has to weigh the extra time of bouncing off of BM's rather than warping gate to gate. Some FC's will never go gate to gate in a system with neuts/reds. NPC space has a higher neut/red count in most systems than sov null so it's harder to pick out background neuts from actual trap setters.

      Like most fights this engagement was lost before it happened. Everything after the fleet went into warp was just percentages and discipline.

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    7. Have the scout stay in system until the fleet engaged warp (not ideal, you could be landing on a hostile gate).
      Or, use a tactical bookmark to warp +150km up/down/left/right from the gate so you don't land in their bubble.

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    8. Hold the scout on the out-gate to watch for anything decloaking. Align the fleet as a group and do a fleet warp. Combined those two tactics would cut down the dictors bubble window to maybe a second or two.
      If he decloaks too early the scout will see him and tell the fleet to stop. If he bubbles too late the fleet will already be in warp and will pass through the bubble and land in jump range.

      Holding the scout on the gate is the most important part, HOWEVER, it means your fleet will be warping to a gate with no idea of what's on the other side. That can be overcome by having two scouts; one jumps to scout the next system and the other holds until the fleet is in warp to watch the gate and catch anyone cross-jumping the front scout.

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    9. The scout should have noticed the ~15 pilots in local. Although the way would have looked clear due to cloaked ships, he should not have let the fleet warp gate-to-gate in a system with that many potential hostiles. (This is a major rule when travelling in null)

      Still, it was an elaborate and perfectly executed trap. Hard to avoid those unless you are the most paranoid of paranoid. :)

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    10. Hind-sight is 20/20 of course.

      Since there were 15 neutrals/reds in system and if the friendly scout identifies them of a certain corp/alliance that you know use bombing tactics (in other words, if your intelligence [as in information, not as in smarts] tells you there might be a trap) this is what you do:

      Warp the fleet to another celestial, one that is at an angle to your exit gate, then jump to the gate. this will bypass the bubbles and allow you to jump to the other side.

      That's what I would have done... IF I had the information available and IF I knew how to interpret it correctly at the time. If, if ,if. :)

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    11. Pretty much what the others have said above, another thing that could have possibly help detect the trap would be to check latest kills on your route back. It isnt full proof cos of the delay with kb updating, but its a info that might help you.

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  2. They made the mistake of not bouncing off a celestial, warping gate to gate with unknowns in local isn't always the best ideas ^^

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  3. I am a noob at that, too, but one method to avoid such things is to never directly warp to a gate, i.e. use a tactical bookmark near the gate to warp to.

    Other/better suggestions?

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  4. One way to avoid this: warp fleet to a bounce spot more than 150km from gate, not in the line from the in gate to the out gate. Sabre won't be in position to bubble you coming in from a different line. If you're in areas you frequently fly, you'll have these bookmarked. If you're in foreign territory, the scout (probs a fast frig) can burn 150 km and make you a warpin. Even though reds can see where you're warping in to, the reds will have no time to set up on it, plus the last warp to the gate is 150 km on grid, so for sabre to pop bubble before you initiate warp... you would clearly see it.

    This is time consuming if you're in a hurry or if system is quiet, but with known bomby reds in system (OR A RnK ALT), it's worth the time.

    Another quick and dirty version: warp to a planet near the gate and out of the gate-to-gate line. Not always possible due to planet locations, but no need to have/make bounce spot on gate.

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  5. It's all the FC's judgement, but in this case it appears there was not enough communication conveyed between the scout and the FC to suggest warping in from an off-plane celestial in order to avoid the pipe-bombing they just received.

    (And no, pipe-bombing does not refer to only the Rooks and Kings tactic of cyno-ing in Smart Bombing battleships. A pipe bombing is any instance where an enemy fleet warps into a bubble and proceeds to get bombed, whether that's smartbombs or regular bombs.)

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  6. Just a null-sec newbie here, too, but perhaps d-scanning along the path to the gate would have alerted them to the Sabre lying in wait, and warping first to a celestial well off the path of the gates would have let them avoid the bubbles.

    Just a guess, though.

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  7. Don't travel in a straight line between gates. If it's a system you go often, burn tacticals on the "side" at 300 - 400 km, far enough that when you fly to them you won't touch the bubbles. If it's a system you're just travelling in, look at the system map and warp to an intermediate point in system as far off a straight line as possible: a planet, an asteroid belt, whatever.

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  8. They could have spammed (counter resist) smartbombs at just the right time and range to destroy the bombs, right? But then... who has several smartbombing battleships along just in case.

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  9. A couple of people have mentioned that there's a trade-off in holding the scout vs intel on the other side of the gate.

    If you've not already got a tactical, then get your forward scout to burn one on-the-fly. You can already see grid, so for this situation you only need to burn 160km. The fleet warps to the scout, and the scout warps down to the gate and jumps.

    It still requires the scout/FC to have an inkling that something is not quite right.

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  10. Nice diagram... It's pretty accurate.

    It was an awesome trap we laid for you guys, although we were hoping you would still have your full fleet, but you guys had lost most your fleet in Delve, thus robbing us of an extra couple billion ISK in kills.

    There was no way for Rote to know what was happening until it was too late. They did scout with several advanced pilots, but we waited patiently and the scout saw nothing so they fleet warped.

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    Replies
    1. Abbadon21 is correct. Also, the reason the scout did not wait for his group to fleet warp, is because we also placed a vexor on the gate who jumped through the moment the scout landed. This was meant to provoke the scout to jump through and tackle him for the fleet, which worked as planned. Once the scout jumped after the Vexor, we lit the bubbles.

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  11. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApKus3OR55E&feature=youtu.be

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