Last night I FCed two fleets: Bombers and Rapid Light Missile Launcher Caracals. One fleet went well, the other not so much. The full report after the break!
Fleet 1: Bombers
I had just logged in when one of my corp-mates invited me to a group chat with a blue from Against ALL Authorities ("-A-") (probably the best alliance name ever). The blue reported that Provi-bloc residents were camping the Kari gate in Y-MPL. The camp was fairly typical, a large anchored bubble 5km in front of the gate to the center of the solar system, a couple of tackle frigs, some battlecruisers and battleships.
We started planning our attack. Taking gates was out of the question, the camp would dock up as soon as we arrived. Titan bridging in was also impossible as the system was cyno jammed. Our only option therefore was a black-ops drop. Originally we wanted to go in black-ops battleships but we didn't have enough of those in fleet so we went mono-bomber. I think we had about 10 bombers by the time we bridged in.
Helpfully, -A- provided a covert cyno in Y-M. Our first covert cyno bridged in only my covert probing alt. Once I got eyes on the camp I saw that their camp was mostly behind the gate while their bubble was in front of the gate (if you were looking from the center of the system). This meant that making a bomber perch was going to be difficult as we could not warp through the bubble and there were no celestials allowing us to warp to a point behind it. Fortunately, -A- had a spot behind the gate(!) so I used that.
My original bombing spot would have directed us towards a Drake, some frigates and a battleship. However I wasn't sure whether we would kill any of that (which was probably wrong or way too conservative) so instead I set up my perch to bomb a Tornado at the other side of the bubble. After testing the warpin spot with the -A- pilot also in system we bridged in the bombers.
The bombers warped to the perch, didn't get dragged into the bubble(!) and approached the Tornado. Then it was bombs away! We promptly nuked the Tornado and then began torpedoing a Megathron that was burning at us from the other side of the camp.
I didn't really want to stay around to kill the Megathron (as the rest of the camp would have killed us) however another -A- pilot jumped a Scimitar in from Kira and started repping our bombers. The Provi-bloc pilots did not understand what was happening and continued to try and kill our bombers while we were tanking their damage and killing all their ships.
After a few minutes we had killed around 700mil in ships including a Tornado, Megathron, two interceptors, a Myrmidon, a Drake and a Maelstrom. Op success?!
This was my first time FCing bombers and I really enjoyed it. I have always shied away from FCing bombers because I had no experience doing it and thought it was really hard. Its actually relatively easy and the fact that all ships remain cloaked (and therefore safe) until you are ready to bomb makes it much less stressful than FCing conventional ships.
My tips from this fleet would be:
1. Always make perches behind a gate (i.e. so the gate is between the Sun and you)
2. 10 bombs is a lot of DPS, don't be afraid to just go for it and then torpedo down anything still standing!
3. I really like the idea of putting one warp core stab on my bombers to dodge interceptors after you have fired your bomb.
4. Understand bubble mechanics and ensure warp routes to intersect with them! Test your warpins before you use them if possible.
Lots of fun, will FC again.
Fleet 2: Rapid Light Missile Launcher Caracals
Flush with success we looked around for some more targets. A ~40 man CFC frigate gang was reported around I-N. We shipping into Rapid Light Missile Launcher Caracals to go fight them. We had about 5 Caracals, 2 Scythes and 1-2 Crows.
As the fleet approached the system the frigate were in it became clear that they were camping our in-gate. I decided to jump 2 Caracals into the system one jump out from them and bait out a few of their frigates. We warped at 10km-ish to the gate and started aligning out. They flooded into the two Caracals and I ordered the rest of the fleet to jump in and warp to the gate at 70km hoping that's how far the two bait Caracals would be by the time we landed.
Unfortunately my predictions were pretty bad. The two bait Caracals should not have warped that close to the gate and got scrammed before they even got 30km off the gate. I was in one of the bait Caracals and died. We had been trying to kill a Stilleto but we couldn't break the reps of their 3 Burst frigate logistics. Losing almost half of the Caracals was a big deal so I decided to run home. Fortunately they didn't camp us in (it was a two-gate system) and all we lost was the two Caracals.
Two lessons here. Well actually three.
1. Firstly we should not have brought the Caracals against such a big fleet, especially one with logistics support. This is simply because of the 40 second reload time on our missile launchers. Even if we had killed 10 frigates with our first clip, we would have been sitting there defenseless after that. One way to mitigate this is to split our guns into two stacks which we did. However the two bait Caracals couldn't break the reps on one Stilleto while splitting guns. In short, RLML Caracals might be good for short fights against gangs of up to 5 pilots, but not more. They can't sustain their DPS.
2. If we were going to get them to burn at us properly I should have only used 1 bait Caracal and had them warp to the gate at 30. That would have given us much better ability to support it by placing it further away from scramming frigates.
3. We probably should have just brought bombers. Rather than burn 12 jumps out to this system and then fail to kill anything, we could have bridged into the system they were in, bait them to agress on the gate with one bomber and then bomb the rest of them. They were all clumped up so this would have worked perfectly. I really have to get rid of my bias towards conventional fleets, this is not the first time I have failed to consider using bombers!
All in all, an educational day...