SOLAR FRONT STILL ALIVE
After the recent N3 coalition update, combat in the Eastern War has ramped up significantly. The number of SBUs being placed has increased dramatically, with the apparent hope that eventually a significant system might harbor a good fight along the way. U930-A turned out to be one of those systems.
N3, supplemented by a 100 man Pandemic Legion Navy Dominix fleet, headed out with a 250 man Rokh fleet (modified with target breakers, blasters, and no propulsion modules) and roughly 130 Abaddons. 30-40 Red Alliance Rokhs joined in, along with various logistics and support ships. Early scouting reported the SOLAR fleet consisted of 110 Lokis and assorted Legions and Proteus, with logistics managed for by 30 Guardians and about 40 Slowcats. SOLAR's heavy hitters were available as well: 20-30 blap dreads. Additionally, N3 detected at least 30 hostile bombers in system before the battle. Razor & FA, meanwhile, finally showed up to help their allies and added 80 or so Caracals, and various Solar allies added a similar number of welpcanes and Drakes. A truly titanic battle was imminent. N3 & co. met up in the adjacent system expecting to fight directly on the enemy gate.
The Solar capital fleet ready to wreak havoc
The fight got off to an early and unexpected start when RA jumped in before everyone was ready. Within a minute, RA had lost over a third of their fleet having to deal with over 400 ships directing fire straight at them (these were mostly ships that uncloaked accidentally or because enemies were close). In an attempt to spread Solar damage and save allies, Vince Draken decided to jump the rest of the fleet through. The gate was heavily bubbled and the system cynojammed. Vince Draken had to examine the possibilities open to him: either destroy the bubbles and try to ninja the cyno jammer, or stay and fight. Thinking that the battle was winnable, Vince chose to stay.
Credit must be given: Solar pulled every defensive trick in the book. The number of blap dreads on field meant that battleships were getting easily alphaed. Bombers deployed neutralizing bombs that made most ships' tank dissappear. The next bomber wave consisted of damage bombs, leaving most battleships in deep shield. Initially Vince believed that reps were holding, but he was unaware that Solar was focusing on PL's Navy Dominixes and that logistics could barely keep Vince's Rokhs alive with Solar's fire getting split.
At this stage the fight became a slaughter on both sides. FA/Razor jumped in with their Caracal fleet and proceeded to get shot at point-blank by blaster Rokhs with predictable results. PL started to jump out with what few Navy Domis were left, and the Rokh/Abaddon fleet started taking the majority of the fire. Respect goes to Solar for not deciding to kill off the FCs. Already under huge pressure, the Rokhs were dealt a killer blow by yet another wave of neuting and then damage bombs. This last run killed the majority of the battleships left on field, and the rest immediately decided to bug out with very few surviving.
Since they had held the field Solar ended the fight by promptly killing N3's sovereignty blockade units, repairing their ihub, and reinforcing the N3 staging tower. The battle report shows that this was a decidedly one-sided fight. Close to 300 N3 and allied ships died to Solar's 100, most of which were cheap-as-chips Caracals. Close to 70 billion isk's worth of ships died, which by today's standards made it a very respectful subcapital fight.
By all accounts, Solar led the perfect Sov defense. Their forces were well deployed to defend: all ships were in optimal positions on the gate, the gate was significantly bubbled, and the system was cynojammed. The FA/Razor forces were well coordinated and jumped into the system at the one stage where Solar was under threat, forcing the Rokhs to shoot worthless Caracals instead of 600 million isk Lokis. Solar's bombing wing in particular performed admirably, repeatedly kicking the N3 forces while they were already under a lot of pressure.
The most glaring issue with the N3 attack was the lack of coordination. RA's early jump put their allies on the back foot and immediately reduced their numbers. The fact that Vince was unaware of the total damage output of the Solar fleet (and the quick loss of his PL allies) likely led him to continue fighting when he should have backtracked or changed tactics. While the Rokh fitting might seem odd (Rokhs are more commonly seen with an MWD, cap booster, and Railguns), it was perfect for this kind of short-range brawl on the gate. The fight was never going to be easy given Solar's clear capital advantage. Finally, Abaddons, which do primarly EM damage, were quite possibly the worst choice to use against Lokis that have close to 95% EM resists. Despite this, N3 forces were still managing to put T3s into deep armour or structure before they were saved by logistics.
WHAT THEY SAID
Clearly jumping into such a well-defended gate was risky. When asked why he would choose to do so, Elise Randolph replied: "You have to risk it to get the biscuit!"
It's also great to see that even FCs like Vince Draken get things put clearly to them:
Vince Draken: "Somewhat ballsy move by NC. fleet commander Vince and the PL fleet commander Mr. Randolph. I felt like a Spartan."
Shadoo: "Spartans took an army down with them. You just sat there and died like ***** women at a *******************."
Let's hope there's a round two!