Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hit 'Em Where They Ain't

Beyond the effectiveness of Supercarriers working in tandem with armored HAC gangs, the post-Dominion engagements have demonstrated that a dynamic, flexible approach to strategic thinking is a new essential when contesting nullsec sovereignty.

In effect, you don't always need to meet the enemy to beat the enemy.

Looking at the conflict between Against All Authorities (AAA) and Circle of Two (CO2), Legion of Death, Pandemic Legion, et al, it's interesting to note what a very long way Teneferis and Catch are for Legion of Death (LD) from their properties in places like Etherium Reach, the Kalavala Expanse and Malpais.

With LD's main strength in terms of ships and pilots is occupied with the conquest of Catch and Teneferis, those forces are not immediately available for defending LD assets in their established sphere of influence.

In fact a week of wandering around Etherium Reach showed a lot of well heeled Carebears larding on the fat while their pvp brethren are off storming the AAA castle.

Now, these Carebear systems represent income for LD and Red Alliance.  Disruption in that cash flow falls under the heading of bad news for both alliances. Further, if those alliances are engaging in RMT, loss of those systems means a real money loss for the landlords; money that pays for the forces presently dismantling AAA. 

QBZO-R was of particular interest as it contains the only ice field in the entire region. Interstellar Alcohol Conglomerate, a vassal alliance of the Russian Coalition (RUS) holds sovereignty. It and a number of other corporations have operations in system. One POS (planet VIII, moon 17) includes a set of manufacturing arrays, including an extra-large array that can build Orcas as well as t2 and t3 ships. It can be assumed that the blueprint drop alone from that tower would be a rich one.

Further, the Carebears in QBZO-R are not terribly cautious. I spent a few days in system watching traffic and scanning ships and anomalies. While my presence kept them from mining the ice belt, they quickly became bored with hanging out at the POS and took to ratting and mining the anomalies - not knowing I observed them doing so at close range on several occasions.

The region's main trade hub appears to be in R-6KYM (a Red Alliance system) at RA Terror Drone station. It has a very active and extensive market, well stocked with almost any ship, structure, mod or resource one could want. There are two other markets showing significant market activity, including RA Meltdown in TP-RTO (Description: "Here there be CareBears") and DIZaster Prime in D-IZTA. A threat to any one of the three would likely force RUS to withdraw forces from newly conquered territories or the AAA front in order to defend their financial interests.

Of course, RUS could simply allow the systems to fall with an eye toward taking them back later. However, that would result in the loss of renter corporations and industrial infrastructure that would take significant time to rebuild. Further, leaving their renters and vassals to the wolves would damage RUS relationships with those entities.

Nobody wants a landlord who can't be bothered to show up when the toilets start fountaining raw sewage - which would pretty much be the analogy if AAA or their sympathizers opened up a second front on the Carebears in RUS's supposedly safe industrial heartland.

An enfilading attack against lightly protected RUS industrial interests wouldn't even have to involve taking systems.  As the Mittani points out in one of his recent blog posts:
One of the more interesting workarounds to the whole SBU/TCU rigmarole has been using mass-scale griefing tactics to essentially harass the victim entity into giving up their territory and cutting a deal to evacuate.
 A complementary tactic in support of mass-scale griefing is dropping Sovereignty Control Units  in unclaimed systems. In combination with griefing, this gives an outward impression of weakness on the part of the landlord alliance, which in turn will drive industrial renter and vassal alliances to hedge their bets by removing valuable assets from the area.

Even if the landlord alliance does respond to these tactics, the attackers do not have to respond  by meeting force with force.

Multiple SCAs and other assets can be put in reinforced mode, forcing the defending alliance to guess where the attackers will strike, or distribute their forces in an attempt to defend multiple targets. In the latter case, feigned attacks can draw off the defenders main strength while the attacker strikes them elsewhere.

The current combat era is seeing a drift away from the classic battleship fleets of the Pre-Dominion era. The current trend appears to be toward greater density of firepower - smallish 'boutique" alliances with an unusually high concentration of Supercapital ships, capable of bringing an enormous amount of firepower to bear using a relatively small number of ships.

While such alliances are capable of taking huge swaths of territory from their more tradition-bound neighbors, it remains to be seen whether they can hold it once the mercenaries move on and their allies turn from conquest to collecting vast piles of isk. Their very success may be their undoing as, the more territory they have, the more territory they must defend.

Faced with defending their newly won empires against agile enemies on many fronts, the same fleets may find themselves overworked, outmaneuvered and unable to keep the quick tempo of insurgent tactics.

1 comment: