Today, in one of several successful operations against the infamous Crystalline Entity in the Alpha Centauri sector block -- 12th Fleet officers broke their own previous record by defeating the Entity in less than 2 minutes and 28 seconds! (See video above.)
So how did we do it in so little time? Well, we did not use Scatter Volley. We did not kite fragments. We did not prohibit torpedoes. Nor did we yell at people in local.
The important factors in the smashing victory were as follows: (1) we had 15 ships concentrating DPS solely on the CE; (2) in addition to the 15 DPS ships, we had 5 ships, equipped with 2-3 repulsors each, relay on firing tractor beam repulsors during Stage III of the CE's hit points to keep the fragments away from the DPS teams; (3) we banned all targetable weapons/abilities (e.g., mines, tricobalt devices/torpedoes, boarding parties, photonic fleet, fleet support, scorpion fighters, etc.); and (4) we tried to keep everyone in a small group at a distance of 7-9km from the CE. Having a few ships using Gravity Well on fragments in Stage I and Stage II was very helpful; as was banning all mass kill/area of effect weapons in Stage III. Having several ships in the expedition come equipped with one copy of Tractor Beam Repulsor 1 (other than the 5 equipped with 2 repulsors each) was also helpful.
Yes, SFMedical has it right. Fragments (normal Crystalline and Large Crystalline) spawn at a distance of around 2-4km from the CE. They detonate at distance of about 1km or less from their target. Thus if you are hanging out at 5km or less from the CE you will have fragments spawn very close to on top of you and detonate before you have a chance to avoid them. A normal fragment is going to do about 25k damage to your hull. A large one is going to do about 50k damage -- and then it will spawn three small fragment that will go back and heal the CE for 3%. Fragments can spawn by the dozens at a time. Thus, if you have all of your ships at 5km you are going to end up with a lot of dead ships at all stages and lots of healing to the CE during stage III. Why not hang out at 6km? Because the CE has a tendency to advance on you rather quickly and without warning.
So, is Gozer going to go "No Win Scenario" on us now? I can just see it in the next release notes:
Crystalline Entity Fleet Action Changes
Whenever a 12th Fleet member is within a CE instance, the following "enhancements" apply to that instance:
Crystalline Fragments are now Large Crystalline Fragments.
Tractor Beam Repulsors have a chance of failure depending on the number of copies on a player's ship (1 copy = 50% chance, 2 copies = 90% chance, 3+ copies = 99% chance).
During Stage 3 (<33% CE health), Starfleet "Mine Layer" NPC starships spawn every 30 seconds at the CE, dropping photonic mines. One Mine Layer warps in for every 12th Fleet member in the instance.
If Von Amicus is one of the 12 Fleet members in the instance, the CE gains a new "Defiance" buff, which grants the CE use of emoticons as taunts whenever Von Amicus is more than 7-9km away from the CE.