It’s been two weeks ago. I just had had my dinner prepared as a ping went up calling for a home defense fleet with armor battleships. It sounded urgent. On mumble the FC was frantically sorting out the fleet composition. “Logi, we need more logi!”. I logged in my support alt, joined fleet and grabbed an ….. wait…. No armor logis in my hangar? Damn. Open contracts … no logis on contract. WTF? A little dumbfounded I stared at my screen. Marveling at the brand new Archon I had acquired just a week earlier. Such a beauty…. but where do I now get an armor logi from? I asked in fleet but got no response. People were busy. Apparently there was an Ishtar gang somewhere around. My main character was way too far out to make it to the op. I really wanted to support my mates but a logi-alt is a logi-alt is a …. carrier pilot. Wait a minute!
At this point my body started to ramp up adrenaline production. Should I? Obviously I can’t just take the carrier out. In a fight. While it was indeed triage fit, I only ever intended to use it for transport purposes until I got much more routine with the capital. It’d be madness to bring it into a fight. The FC asked to link the Triage fit. Apparently there was at least another carrier pilot present. Probably an experienced guy. Maybe I’d be safe then.
“FC, do you need a second Archon?” …. and so I started to frantically prepare myself for battle.
Now this is a story about mistakes being made and I write it down so people can learn from them. Maybe you can already spot what is going wrong here. I at the time was just busy following the FCs instructions to stock useful modules so the two triage carriers could cross fit. Also I made sure to have my fuel bay full of isotopes. I’d need these to get home, right? It all was very hectic. I told the FC this was the first time for me to fly triage. He seemed ok with that. “Let’s gogogogogo.” The battlelships were already on their ways and so I undocked and waited alongside with my buddy — who seemed to be very cool and professional about it — for the command to jump into the battle.
The moment came and we committed ourselves. I was actually dropping my triage on top of an enemy fleet. Holy shit! Land, reapproach triage buddy. Start prelocking our fleet. My partner was already in triage. We were set. I calmed down a bit. things seemed to work. I was too focused on not making a stupid mistake to follow the fight but the FC kept calling targets and our reps were holding. I was a bit surprised when the logi-FC said that all subcap logis had died. I never saw them broadcast for reps… anyhow we had the triage and were holding. What I did not know at the time was that our battleships were making very little progress to break the enemies tank. So the battle was at a kind of standoff. Each FC waiting for the enemy logistics to make a mistake.
My turn to triage came and I went into super-logi mode. It is quite amazing what a carrier in triage can do. I loved it. Still high on adrenaline but fully aware of the risk I was taking I was repping as hell, singlehandedly keeping my buddies alive under the fire of a 30man Ishtar fleet. I was pumped. It was going well.
I was about half way through my triage cycle and the FC asked the second Archon to prepare to take over, when the ominous words rang through mumble “I have no more Stront.”
Strontium clathrates are needed to operate the triage modules. No stront no triage. That was bad. The annoying thing about stront is, that they take quite some volume and generally are a resource that needs to be managed well.
“How much stront do we have on the other carrier?” — I checked — “for one more cycle.” I had pondered how to balance isotopes (needed to jump the carrier) against strontium and not knowing any better just went for 2 cycles of triage. I mean, which fight ever takes longer than 40minutes, right? Meanwhile, the FC was freaking out a little bit. It was made very clear that there would be a lecture after the operation. Oh dear…
At this point we had two options. Bring in more stront and continue the engagement or try to disengage. The FC was pondering both solutions while I went right into my second triage cycle. Now, triage is a tricky thing. A carrier becomes a super-powered space priest while in triage, but on the other hand he cannot receive any reps and in particular no cap transfer himself. His own reppers pushed into overdrive by the triage mode use a shitload of capacitor, though. Even with specialized fits the cap does not hold indefinitely. That is why optimally a pair of carriers is used. One of them can rest and recover his cap. The triage can transfer cap to it’s resting buddy and do the heavy repping. After one cycle, when the triage runs low on cap, the roles are switched. Being low on cap is of course a special problem for capitals, as it prevents the jump drive from working. Now I was entering my second triage cycle already low on cap, my buddy being out of strontium and unable to help me. After a few more cycles: “the capacitor is empty”.
The order to disengage was given and I was ordered to stop repping and cap up to prepare for extraction. The FC had calmed down and was focused on saving the two carriers now. I salute him for keeping his cool and manage to come up with an extraction strategy. Meanwhile my buddy was pointed and unable to leave. Damping ships were ordered on field to damp out the hostile recons that held the carrier pinned down. The battleships focused fire on the tackle. I had to watch helplessly as my mates melted under the fire of the Ishtars, but the FC was adamant. “Cap up. Don’t rep.”
Finally someone had the idea to actually use the possibility to refit the carriers. “Refit to warp core stabs!”. We had brought some luckily. My buddy refit and was free of tackle. A short moment of confusion ensured while I was handling my fitting window, trying to convince the modules to unfit. My buddy had warped out already. I was still in triage and so could not be tackled, luckily there were no more interdictors on field. But the moment I came out of triage the enemy would point me. I tried to drop a mobile depot to refit on that but we were too close to a gate. I had to do with what I had. The FC sounded the retreat. His own battleship was about to go down and while my last seconds of triage ticked down the fleet started to leave through the near star-gate.
I had only one chance to escape. I was above jump cap by now. The extraction cyno goes up. Triage red. Still no point on me. I click jump and the world begins to turn around me as the jump-tunnel animation starts.
Seconds later, I am frantically clicking the dock button on my home station. We made it! Both carriers saved. Phew! … I got a convo from my “experienced” triage buddy: “Wow, that was close. Tbh it was my first time in a triage carrier.”
So what went wrong here? What lessons have been learned?
BRING STRONT! Obviously the main error here was, that we did not have enough strontium on us. At least 5 cycles of stront should be with you at all times as triage. On my side I must admit that I totally forgot about the Fleet Hangar that provides an additional 10.000 m3 to store anything. I had only thought about the fuel bay when loading the strontium, but this has to be shared with the isotopes. Which brings me to the second and more fundamental mistake here. Never hurry the preparation of a capital op. If we would have had more time to discuss, I would have realized that the fight was happening right next door to our home system. I had way too much fuel stored in my fuel bay. I should have asked the FC how much fuel would actually be needed. The rest could have been filled with strontium. Finally more communication with my triage buddy would have been good. And less assumptions on his level of expertise. Don’t just rely on your assumptions – communicate effectively instead. We should have made better use of the logi channel to coordinate ourselves.
In the end we did not so bad and did not loose any carrier. However, we lost the fight and several battleships were melted. The price for learning in a capital is high. But I am glad that I was given the chance to actually do it in practice. As important as reading the theory is, nothing replaces the practical experience in the field. And flying triage turned out to be totally awesome.
Thanks to all, who gave feedback in the debriefing after the fleet!
Fly reckless, Chira.