Our evening began with a Slasher gang roam in Geminate that ended with us staring at the Oijanen sun and attempting to fly into said sun for at least fifteen minutes. Yeah, it was one of those nights. I believe the only kill we managed to snag was an Impairor piloted by a non-blue alt of a completely newbie Newbean, along with his accompanying pod. Hey, he was neutral. He should’ve known better (or not).
Sensing that the gang was getting bored, Lolz and I suggested that we go on a real roam to some other parts of null-sec. Five of us — Heinrich, Gary, Lolz, Swiggity, and I — agreed.
After debating the finer points of a Warp Disruptor versus a Warp Scrambler, we set off north in Thrashers, with Heinrich in a Svipul for cloaky probing.
Our target was Branch.
I was familiar with the Branch region since I was deployed up there last fall in a campaign to harass GOTG. There were always tons of ratters. Hell, even I ratted up there during lulls in action.
We took the “ansiblex highway” up to Tribute, through Venal, and then into Branch via MA-VDX. It was relatively quiet the whole way through. We stopped here and there to try to probe down neutrals in system with us, but nothing came of it.
From MA-, we moved to 1G-MJE. Dotlan was showing high amounts of NPC kills in this area of the pocket. We immediately detected several ships on D-Scan, including some caps. Heinrich probed them down, and warped on to them…
…Only to find they were all in a POS bubble.
We, not entirely understanding the mechanics of POS’s, hung around figuring out what to do, and even fired a few shots into the thing. We had a strong suspicion that these were bots, so we bookmarked the location for a return at a later date, perhaps with some Mobile Warp Disruptors.
From there, we dove deeper into Branch, trying to probe or shotgun sites to find ratters. Unfortunately, they were all paying attention so we never caught any.
By this point, our presence was known and we started seeing more of the locals flying around. No one ever engaged us, but we knew we were being tracked. Heinrich started jumping into systems first to probe down ships without scaring them as much. However, he couldn’t scan them down quick enough before they docked or tethered-up.
Next, we flew into the CX-1XF pipe, heading towards south-central Branch. This pocket had the highest concentration of ratting activity in the region according to Dotlan.
This, however, was a dangerous gambit. While the pipe was very long, it was exactly that, a pipe with only two exits. Just like our recent excursion in Catch, we could be camped quite easily on either or both ends of the pipe, slowly getting boxed in.
After hanging around 3-TD6L for too long, I felt we needed to keep moving. I had us start freeburning towards 9-B1DS. The more time we spent in this pipe, the higher chance of a gatecamp being formed.
And formed it was. We met the gatecamp in J52-BH. Upon landing on the 5-P1Y2 gate, a handful of ships were there to meet us. It was time to fight.
There were a couple of frigates, so we focused on a Claw and won. However, we lost Lolz before that. Our next target was a VNI, which we managed to force into armor, but with more enemies jumping in, we didn’t stand a chance. Each of us was promptly destroyed and podded.
Except for Heinrich.
He somehow managed to cloak up in the thick of it and evade getting decloaked. Though he said they got dangerously close to doing so. He slowly burned out of the bubble, then waited for things to quiet down before bee-lining it to nearest friendly station for repairs, several jumps away. He set course back home – twenty-something jumps – and made it back in one piece.
Overall, I thought we did pretty good. We stuck together this time and people followed my orders. Plus we got a kill! The last few roams were either content droughts or situations where we ended up as the “content,” so it was good to finally score a kill again.
My personal highlight was my call to take on the Claw. In battles, it gets chaotic quite quickly. With multiple targets, people tend to panic and just attack whatever. I took a few seconds to look through the enemies on grid and evaluate the situation. Since the Claw was the smallest thing on grid — and we were in destroyers– it was the perfect target. The gang listened, adjusted their targets, tackled him, and followed through to completion.
Lessons learned: Be quick. The more time we spend in one place, the more time we’re giving the enemy to prepare.
Communicate accurately and quickly. We didn’t actually have to enter that fight in the manner we did (we warped in at zero from a freeburn). Had the person that landed first accurately relayed the situation, we might have been able to enter the fight differently.
That said, there’s something to be said about chaos. They were probably caught off guard just as we were.