Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lions of the South

Mercenaries in the Eve Cluster have always served a vital function to Empires and Corporations throughout the years. It can be argued that none were more successful than the collection of corporations known as the Mercenary Coalition (MC). When I was running my own mercenary outfit, I looked up to the MC and their accomplishments, their daring, and their honesty with the general public. It was always something to emulate, which is always an honor into itself.

Knowing the logistics needed to run an effective mercenary venture (although on a much smaller scale), I know the effort it took to bring the MC to the forefront of the merc business. The LSD was successful in its opportunities…but we were never large enough to hold our own nullsec constellation or region. Holding such territory is the only way to build supercapitals and take the largest of contracts.

MC has lived in BoB controlled space for much of its existence…often to the cries of its contract victims and the seemingly large ability to always work for BoB when the alliance needed to go from push to shove. Although I do not know the details of whatever arrangement that was in place, I am sure there had to be some free work involved to stay in Period Basis for off contract time.

Mercenaries are infamously known to do whatever is in their best interests at all times…and it seems MC is no different. Several weeks ago, they signed a new accord with 3 other known mercenary organizations and declared themselves the sole owners of Period Basis. Of course this did not sit well with Band of Brothers, and we got our marching papers in short order. A capital fleet of over 170 ships were assembled to wrest control over TPAR sector and start our Period Basis campaign to retake the space. Our initial assault was highly successful, culminating in the destruction of a MC Hel class supercapital near the theater of operations.

MC has struck at the opportune time indeed. While BoB forces continue to fight raging battles in several regions…MC has chosen to consolidate with ‘friends’ in an attempt to outlast the BoB counterattack. I think most grunts believe we will soon be fighting for Delve and Period Basis only.

As a result, we have lost FAT as far as I can tell…with the entirety of the Cluster now at war with BoB, I will be interested to see how the command structure deals with all these new threats. MC leaving the sphere of influence in the GBC has only given our enemies new lungs…and they will continue to swarm every sector crashing HUD displays with mind numbing warp interference (ooc read: lag).

Overall, I have seen nothing but high morale. The retaking of Period Basis will but a huge undertaking…and with the odds against us, striking out offensively sends notice to all alliance fighting BoB. We will not be fearful of anyone, anywhere, at anytime. I would rather fight beside lions than cower with a massive herd of sheep.

At least two Lions of the Cluster are now at each other's throats in Period Basis...a worthy battle between worthy foes. The campaign will be the defining moment in either the life or death of Band of Brothers, and I am honored to be among the participants.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Solving Small Problems

After several days of futile searching for RAZOR transports in empire space, I decided to load up the EVOL Blackguard for a move to the Delve Region. Having recently completed max certification in its unique fleet warfare systems, I thought it might be good to have on upcoming capital operations. Giving capital fleets maximum bonuses to defensive armor systems is a vital function in large scale engagements I have found.

I ordered the crew to reconfigure the Blackguard to a warpcore hardened travel specification, and then we started off on our 40+ jump. It was quite uneventful except for the lone RAZOR pilot spotted on scanner 20 jumps into the trip. A wise philosopher once said “You only find what you are looking for by trying not to find it.” I suppose that is true this regards. Not having full combat systems online, we decided to bypass and stick to the mission of moving the ship down.

4 jumps away from my destination I ran into a strange site: a lone GoonFleet Drake class battlecruiser, lazily circling the outbound gate at 13km range. There were no scouts in the previous systems, and I highly doubted they were closer to our regional HQ. Sure enough he targeted my Damnation and let a few heavy missiles fly…stripping the shields of the Blackguard. While wanting to fight, I know it would have been a stalemate. Both ships are known for their massive defensive capabilities, but with little firepower. We would have traded blows for an hour before he ran out of heavy scourge type missiles.

I jumped and signaled ahead to the HQ station to prep the EVOL Vitae, the sister ship to the Blackguard but an Absolution class vessel known for its heavy firepower. Once arriving I boarded quickly and formed a fleet with two Evolution members, one in a Damnation command ship and the other in a Brutix battlecruiser. Once we had our systems loaded we started our hunt.

Sure enough, 5 systems away was the GS Drake still looking for easy targets. This time, with the Absolution I quickly engaged. Once I saw the Drake deploy both a warp disruptor and propulsion webifier, I knew he was in serious trouble. To fit both systems to any Caldari hull ship was trading off a lot of defensive power just to hold its prey in place. Unfortunately for him…I was not the prey this time. The Damnation jumped in once I had my own disruptor and webifier engaged on the target, and let loose with a barrage of heavy assault missiles at close range. The Drake, sensing what had happened, quickly shut down its offensive systems to use the Jumpgate as a retreat. We ordered the Brutix in the fleet to standby on the other side of the gate if he made it through…but luckily for us, he did not. The Drake’s shields buckled under the massive firepower brought to bear, giving a swift kill to the crews involved.

Later we had learned this was a solo GS Drake hitting BoB shipping deep in our territory. A sweet kill indeed as he was finally dispatched. It was only a small problem for our alliance shipping, but it was still satisfying in solving it in an efficient manner.

Having seen over 2 years worth of intelligence reports on the entity known as “GoonSwarm”, I have come to the personal conclusion that the entire pod alliance has been infected with some sort of mutated strain of the Sansha’s virus. Although it has never been proven that the virus affects pod pilots, I believe it has mutated to a point of creating chaos within the alliance it affects, while giving the pilots some retention of humanity. The tactical options that are always chosen by GS have always been bad ones…but their incredible number of pilots flying under their banner makes up for any deficiencies found in their command structure. Needing at least 4 to 1 odds to achieve anything really meaningful in a strategic sense, they simply ‘Swarm’ to their stated objectives.

The GS Drake pilot we destroyed could have been a straggler from some roaming operation, or cut off from his way home and just decided to suicide in Delve by taking some unsuspecting ships with him…but more likely than not, he was simply driven mad I believe.

Although destroyed many years ago, Sansha (and his Empire) may actually have the last laugh yet in the Eve Cluster.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Command Reflections

(OOC Note: Sorry for the lack of updates, I was recently married so I haven’t had time to attend to this blog like I should.)

While it has been some time since my last entry, no shortage of fighting has occurred during that absence. The “Great War” has taken a short breather as both sides recoup their losses from the previous 5 months of warfare. The Alliance has lost ground to superior numbers (but not skill) in the south, losing all space gained from the old ASCN war last year. GBC Alliance corporations have been resettled (as far as I can tell) in the Fountain Region, which I still view as my true home in the Eve Cluster. The campaign by our enemies resembles classic Amarr Navy doctrine of throwing the largest numbers into a fight. That worked for the Empire for eons, but times have changed....I suspect this war will change as well.

Since giving up frontline command of the OEC and Legionnaire Alliance, a strange disconnect has taken place. To say I feel out of the loop is an understatement, but that is maybe a good thing as I need to get the ‘grunt’s perspective’ I once had 10 years ago serving on the AMN Octavian. Being in charge for too long I have found lessens your ability to see the small picture. My military school tacticians will probably disagree as they always emphasized the ‘large picture’ and the goalposts for any military endevour.

But I have found that just focusing on the larger issues makes getting there all the harder. Commands coming down from HC with little guidance on how to get the job done are certain to run into problems. One of the strong points I have found in Evolution, and BoB in general, is the almost religious thinking of “keeping it simple”. Yes, the KISS principle is alive and well in the south. All complex decisions, strategy, and politics are kept far away from the grunt’s as possible…letting them focus at the task at hand, and making them more proficient at being the tip of the spear.

My time in the OEC and LSD could have benefited from this. It is a lesson that I will always put to use in my future leadership endeavors, whatever they may be.

As for my personal activities…they have mainly been regulated in defensive patrols in and around Delve, but I have recently JumpCloned to the Beke system, using it as a base of operations to patrol for RAZOR transports. I feel more useful this way in our efforts, but I do not know how long I can maintain my solo efforts. So far, its just my Coercer, its crew, and my willingness to put them on the line of fire. Already we have provoked an enemy Brutix class battlecruiser into attacking us near a concord patrol. Our hopes are to catch some light shipping that would normally evade larger ships.

It is a diversion that I will probably need…war is coming in a big way after this relative calm in the South. As epic of scope the battles tend to be, I recognize my calling in smaller skirmish type warfare. Still…there is plenty of time to hone those skills after the war has concluded.