Thursday, January 27, 2011

Incursions Day One: Obray Bloodbath

After clearing up some static on my neocom, I was able to get a global report from CONCORD about the state of Sansha Incursions in EVE. Two incursions were near to my current location, so I hopped in my trusty Taranis and headed over to Obray Constellation in Verge Vendor. As I approached the gate into Eletta, there was the usual crowd of ships on gate. I was not sure what to expect, so I jumped into the system.

First thing I noticed was that CONCORD has set up a new Constellation wide-channel for each incursion, to enable communication between pilots. Second thing I noticed was that there were no Sansha on the inbound side of the Eletta/Cistuvaert gate. I double-checked my combat overview, strangely the Sansha ships were not actively displayed in my overview. Correcting that error, I checked again. Still nothing on gate. Guess that would make it easier for pilots to continue basic travel through the empire systems that are under incursion. Not sure if that's good or bad. Once my overview was functioning, I checked the system status, and ran a quick hop into the various systems that were under Incursion to determine the scope of the attack. It appeared that most systems were Vanguard-class attacks, there was one Assault system, and one Headquarters.

Idling far from any celestial bodies in Eletta, I saw reports of Sansha in various asteriod belts. I decided that the Taranis was fast enough to at least get a quick look, maybe take a shot or two at the Sansha if I could separate them. I landed 100km from the beacon in the first asteroid belt near planet VIII. I saw 3 Sansha Frigates, 3 Cruisers, and a Battleship, all sitting within 10 clicks of the beacon. This was far more firepower than normally seen in such a high-traffic system. I immediately aligned out, towards the University of Caille School station, as the Sansha targeted me at 80km. Activating my MWD, I thought I'd see what these frigates could do for damage, and tried to lure them away from their larger support vessels. My ploy seemed to work successfully, as the frigates quickly outdistanced their support. Unfortunately, they were also obviously much faster than my Taranis, as they closed the distance between our ships quickly.

Deciding to take on 3:1 odds, knowing the outcome was far from certain, I returned target lock, and realigned to a tight combat orbit. At 16km, before I could even consider activating my blasters, I realized I had made a mistake, as the first Sansha torpedo hit my signature-bloomed Taranis, shattering my shields, armor, and half my hull in a single volley. Realizing I was far from prepared for this, I decided to retreat, but failed to disengage my MicroWarp Drive. This resulted in a second massive torpedo hit, and my ship exploded, leaving me floating in my pod. A friendly Thorax landed back on the beacon moments before my destruction, and rather than finish me off, the Sansha regrouped. Before I had even warped my pod away, the Thorax was just another wreck floating in the asteroid field.

Docking in station, I had my pod quickly transferred to a Velator, as I wanted to see if I could recover the data recorder from the wreck, for further analysis of the Sansha ships and the damage they inflicted. I warped back to the belt. Fortunately the enemy had no interest in wrecks, and I was able to recover the logs and a few damaged modules before they could return and destroy the fragile Velator. Warping to a spot deep in space, I reviewed the logs from the fight, then reviewed the incursion data scrolling through my neocom. It appeared that I was not alone in the near-instantaneous loss of my ship. Nearly everyone was unprepared for the sheer brutal force the Sansha brought to bear, as pilots reported losses of massive Marauder class ships, Strategic Cruisers, and more. This was no backwater Serpentis Initiate squad looking to prey on unsuspecting young capsuleers. The Sansha had brought a full battle fleet to the area, more like the fleets deep in Fade and Pure Blind last spring than anything staged in a secure empire system. The residents of the systems near Obray were unprepared, and the Sansha forces (and capsuleers aligned with them) were wiping their ships off the map as if they were mosquitos.

Unsurprisingly, many capsuleers were secretly working with the Sansha, and using tactics known to provoke a response from CONCORD to destroy the remote repair chains being set up in the defense fleets. All in all, the threatened retaliation from Sansha Kuvakei was more than an empty threat - it was an all out assault that took the "gods" of New Eden by surprise, and rendered their common tactics useless. I can only hope that my fellow capsuleers will realize that they need to work together, with trusted pilots, to overcome the Sansha Incursions, before they surrender to the hivemind of the Sansha, or worse, leave the poor citizens of New Eden to become slaves of the Sansha Nation.

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