In the wake of only the second Vanquisher loss in New Eden history, INN decided to investigate the disturbing growing trend of supercapital ships traveling through normal jumpgates, instead of using the standard cynosural field jump mechanics specifically designed for traveling in capital and supercapital vessels.
RED GUARD’s Rekrab Sivart lost the 346 Billion ISK vessel to a determined hunt-and-bait effort led by Siberian Squads, which spent much of the last two months hunting, stalking, and plotting to kill the new titan after spotting it on undock, and finally succeeded in baiting the Vanquisher and an Erebus by working with a friendly GOTG Rorqual in transit, tackling the titan on a gate, and dispatching the massive ship before sufficient backup could arrive to intervene.
In addition to RED GUARD’s Vanquisher, late last month we also reported on the loss of Sort Dragon’s Avatar and another GOTG Titan on a regional gate in Venal. In that case, a pair of Imperium fleets caught GOTG off-guard during a transit operation and killed Sort Dragon’s Avatar, along with an Erebus, an Aeon, and an assortment of smaller capital ships worth nearly 240 Billion ISK in all.
Clearly this trend of traveling via stargates in supercaps can be hazardous to capsuleers’ health – not to mention their wallets, but it seems to be happening more and more often. There have been other reports of encountering similarly risky behavior with increasing frequency in TEST and XiX space as well.
INN asked several capital and supercap pilots why any capsuleer would casually risk such expensive equipment. Pandemic Horde capital pilot Vulxanis Viceroy made it clear that he, for one, would not. “The only reason I’ve ever done it is during a deployment with multiple other caps. We’re all very careful to stick together and we usually have subcaps either with us, standing by, or on their way.”
As to why others might make a different decision, Viceroy said, “Sometimes range isn’t as cooperative as they might want it to be, or they might not have infrastructure available.” “Each capital can only go so far when they use a cyno to jump, [so] they could be deployed and impatient without any cynos nearby.”
“Or they’re stupid,” he added, “any smart capital pilot will have alts with cynos.”
Viceroy also highlighted CCP’s recent changes to jump mechanics and noted that “now the worst [jump fatigue] you can get is blue for five hours, and red for 30 minutes. So you really don’t have much of an excuse now other than ‘let’s see what happens.'”
“If you can’t wait 30 minutes between jumps with a cloak or docked up you’ve got issues and have either not thought this through or are trying to escape someone. If you’ve got a character with a heavy timer you dock them up.”
“Personally I’m hyper paranoid and feel extremely naked when gating caps,” Viceroy concluded.
Goonswarm Federation supercap pilot Podrick Equus agreed. “What’s big, slow, and can’t realistically burn out of bubbles?” he asked rhetorically.”Laziness or cockiness,” he said, might explain some pilots’ willingness to risk so much on a dangerous maneuver. Equus explained that on one occasion, “I was feeling really lazy and burned my Nyx nine jumps through Delve.”
Allowing that he would be reluctant to repeat the experience, Equus explained that some pilots might actually be in it for the thrill of the fight, “They might brick tank their super and secretly hope to get dropped on to get the adrenaline pumping, even if it means losing it potentially.”
GSF FC Dirk Stetille noted that there are some legitimate reasons one might choose to risk such valuable equipment on a regional gate. “The general consensus is and should always be not to gate supers,” he said. That’s because “regardless of the location you gate around, if you stay tackled for five minutes there’s going to be a group somewhere that can in all probability respond and drop dreads.”
However, Stetille continued, “One reason [to use stargates] is to reduce the jump fatigue that accrues when you make capital jumps around space.” He’s talking about something a bit different here than the mere impatience Vulxanis Viceroy mentioned in connection with jump fatigue. Stetille noted that “the gating aspect allows time for fatigue cooldowns, which among other things allows us to bring along people [on a fleet] who may have taken a jump bridge to reach staging.”
Stetille also noted that actual physical distance can be an important factor. Because cyno range is measured in lightyears rather than system-by-system, he pointed out, “in some situations, it’s physically impossible to go from one system to another directly.”
When choosing to use a gate, though, Stetille noted that certain precautions must be taken. “We typically gate in that way as a fleet. So we form up, and then move the fleet along the route. We have specific travel fits for that type of gating, and typically every ship has a cyno too, so we can call upon Force Auxiliary (FAX) support as necessary.” Some of the centerpieces of a typical travel fit might include inertial stabilizers to improve maneuverability, hyperspatial accelerators to improve warp speed and acceleration, and 500MN microwarp drives for align speed. These fits, said Stetille, “enable you to move faster, and the less time you’re vulnerable, the better.”
For whatever reason, some apparently choose to chance it through a gate or several without taking these sensible precautions or bringing along friends. For most, though, it’s simply far too much risk. GSF’s Paramemetic said, “I’ve gated my own capital alt exactly one time, and it was the most terrifying experience of my life.”
What about you, dear reader? Has this dangerous new trend made an appearance in your corp’s sovereign space? Are our sources right to be concerned about the seemingly growing prevalence of this tactic (and the pricey lossmails it has generated in recent days)? Are you worried that your corp might find itself on the wrong end of such a lossmail one day soon? As always, please share your thoughts in the comments below.