Last night some of the boys from TEARS wanted to put together a light fleet to go hunting into some wormholes. I showed up in a new-model stealth bomber, which (since the last patch) now shoots torpedoes (range-enhanced to about 60-80 klicks depending on skills and rigs) and fits a covert ops cloak. A bunch of bonuses have also been tweaked, with the idea being to focus the ship as a stealthy small ship with a DPS role against battleship-class vessels. (This being dramatically different from the platform’s historic role as an anti-frigate ship and its more recent neither-fish-nor-fowl role since the speed and missile adjustments impacted its ability to instapop smaller and faster targets.)

This was my first chance to fly one in a combat situation, so I spent much of the day tweaking up a fitting I could live with, and also scanning for a few wormholes we could hunt in later. When the fleet finally came together, it was very small; the composition varied a bit as players came and went, but for most of the evening we had a covert ops ship, we had an electronic attack frigate, we had me in the bomber, we had a heavy interdictor, and we had one or two recon cruisers. So we were set for tackle and ECM, but were light on DPS for the number of ships present. (My understanding is that a couple more bomber pilots were supposed to join us, but didn’t make it for various reasons.)

The first wormhole we entered was quite busy, and we ended up with a lot of traffic hitting our bubble in just a few minutes. Some got away, but we took down two different battleships, including a Dominix with godly armor repping who really erred badly; if he’d sent his Ogre IIs after me, it might have been a sad story. But he didn’t, and he died. I was quite pleased with the damage contribution that the bomber brought to those kills.

During this flight my fleetmates kept saying over voice “Why doesn’t he put those drones on the stealth bomber?” Which I didn’t consider a friendly suggestion at all! But, I was thinking the same thing.

There followed a long wander through a chain of three or four wormhole systems, but we found them all to be uninhabited. By the time we worked our way back to our starting location, we were near to calling the evening over, and we were already diminished by the departure of a couple of our most sleepy pilots.

Before we wrapped up, though, we scattered to check some of our previously-found and previously-empty wormholes. Warping around cloaked in mine, I found a Drake on the directional scanner, and using the directional scanner, I had him fairly well localized by the time the rest of the guys arrived in the adjacent k-space system. It was puzzling, though, because the Drake was not fighting sleepers (at least, there were no wrecks visible on d-scan) and was not probing (no probes on d-scan anywhere in system that I could reach, anyway). So, what was he doing there? Perhaps we’ll never know.

Somewhere in here there was a quick debate about whether we had with our remaining ships enough firepower to kill a heavily tanked Drake, which (to my gratification) ended when somebody said “No worries, if we get him locked down we can torp him to death.”

So I warped back to the wormhole, jumped out, and vectored the rest of the fleet to my wormhole. The covert ops jumped in and went hunting, working from my vague “somewhere in the vicinity of Planet I” report.

Everybody with a cloak jumped in, cloaked up, and took up a position on the wormhole. The covert ops got probes on the target, then cursed and said the target had vanished. So he had the interdictor jump in and bubble up the wormhole, in case the Drake was en route to the exit.

We waited, but no Drake.

Eventually one of our guys went to the most distant planet, where he saw the Drake on scan. Just as he reported the Drake vanishing from his scan, the Drake showed up on our wormhole at the edge of the bubble.

(An aside here: it’s my understanding that a bubble dropped by a heavy interdictor is supposed to be visible, like the ones you see around anchored bubble generators, or like a force field. But last night, I could not see our bubble, even though everyone else could. Is this an overview setting that I’ve got wrong, or some sort of graphics glitch? Obviously I’m not pleased at the concept of invisible dictor bubbles; all suggestions gratefully received.)

And then, like a switch, the Drake vanished. The wretch had cloaked!

There was much cursing, and our faster movers of course went blazing toward his last known location. By some miracle (or perhaps the Drake pilot panicked and dropped cloak in an attempt to warp) he quickly reappeared, and just as quickly, locked down.

I was gratified to see my torp volleys hitting him for 2,000 and more points per volley; and he blew up with respectable dispatch:

2009.04.29 06:45:00

Victim: Slo BurN
Corp: Brutor tribe
Alliance: NONE
Faction: NONE
Destroyed: Drake
System: J115738
Security: 0.0
Damage Taken: 27366

Involved parties:

Name: Marlenus (laid the final blow)
Security: 1.3
Corp: Ironfleet Towing And Salvage
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Manticore
Weapon: Caldari Navy Juggernaut Torpedo
Damage Done: 19836

Name: GreenYoshi
Security: 0.6
Corp: Suddenly Ninjas
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Broadsword
Weapon: Broadsword
Damage Done: 5640

Name: Herr Wilkus
Security: 0.6
Corp: Aggressive Salvage Services LLC
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Rapier
Weapon: Caldari Navy Thunderbolt Heavy Missile
Damage Done: 1890

Name: Velocity Prime
Security: -0.9
Corp: Suddenly Ninjas
Alliance: Tear Extraction And Reclamation Service
Faction: NONE
Ship: Buzzard
Weapon: Phased Weapon Navigation Array Generation Extron
Damage Done: 0

Destroyed items:

Scourge Heavy Missile, Qty: 306 (Cargo)
Widowmaker Heavy Missile, Qty: 448 (Cargo)
Prototype Cloaking Device I
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 78
Scourge Heavy Missile, Qty: 79
Expanded Probe Launcher I
Heavy Missile Launcher II, Qty: 4
Ballistic Control System II
Large Shield Extender II, Qty: 2
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 326 (Cargo)
Core Defence Field Purger I

Dropped items:

Shield Power Relay I, Qty: 2
Havoc Heavy Missile, Qty: 773 (Cargo)
Thunderbolt Heavy Missile, Qty: 39
Core Scanner Probe I, Qty: 7
Compulsive Multispectral ECM I
Salvager I
Heavy Missile Launcher II
Ballistic Control System II
Shield Recharger II, Qty: 2
Large Shield Extender II
Core Scanner Probe I, Qty: 4 (Cargo)

And with that, we called it an evening. I think all told we bagged two battleships, the Drake, two pods, and one pod ransom, with all loot and proceeds going into the TEARS war chest.

As for myself, I confirmed that the new-model stealth bomber remains an effective and fun ship to fly. It’s still paper thin, just as it always was; and it now flies against bigger ships at closer ranges, so overall peril has gone up. But it still brings the pain, and with the covert ops cloak capability, the pilot has an enormous amount of discretion about which fights to participate in. I also found that it serves as a functional auxiliary scout, without in any way threatening the primacy of the covert ops ships in their famous scouting role.

Update: Velocity Prime’s account of the same operation is here.

4 Responses to “Wormhole Hunting In The New Stealth Bomber”

  1. Kirith Kodachi says:

    Thanks for the first hand account of the SB in action. Its good to hear it is still effective against battlecruisers at least. :)

  2. Velocity Prime says:

    Good times! I thought we were going to loose that last Drake, but we got it!

  3. GreenYoshi says:

    Ah, the Broadsword. Such a beautiful tool if used for good. Or evil, come to think of it. I love flying it for the survivability, and thetactical advantage it lends to any fleet. Once again, sorry for that comment. The Dominix didn’t end up shooting you in the end, anyways.

  4. Marlenus says:

    No worries GY, it’s all in good fun anyways. I only squawked because you said what I was already fretting about.

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