Monday, February 11, 2013
Let's talk about some of the basics of fighting outnumbered. There are a few different ways to do this, but the main two are:
A) Hugely over-tanked ships that are able to tank multiple enemies at once
B) Kiting -- fighting at long distance, using agile ships with good damage projection.
Kiting is useful in more situations: you have mobility, and the ability to choose your fights. Overtanked ships generally lack a prop mod and are unscouted; you'll be locked in to the first engagement you stumble upon. I tend to lean towards kiting more, as it's one of the things that I'm best at.
That said, watch this video and try to pay attention to everything that is going on. The fight starts after a minute or two; I intentionally left the build-up part in, so you can see what's going through our heads. (It also gives some pertinent numbers with regards to what the two fleets had.)
I had just went two jumps away to scout something when my fleet reported a local spike. (If you ever report a local spike/change and you refer to it as "small" or "large", your FC is going to want to kill you; those terms mean nothing. Give hard numbers!) After I hear that there is a 10-12 man local spike, I turn around and head back to JH so we can set up and assess the situation.
When it comes to upengaging (taking on more people that you have), there are a few things you have to consider:
* First: Is your fleet mobile? If it is, you're able to fight outnumbered and just take kills until you have to leave.
* Second: Can you project damage effectively? This means applying damage at a range that your opponent can not. If you can project, then you can kill them as long as they stay on grid with you. Drakes used to be really good for this, but their recent damage nerf is painful. Tier 3 Battlecruisers are very good for this; they're very mobile, and they can all hit to 40k at a minimum.
* Third: The third thing to consider is enemy tackle, and to a lesser extent your own tackle. If you see lots of hostile tackle frigates and you can't get rid of them effectively, then you need to consider what kind of losses you're going to take in the process of killing them. (Assault Frigates, Interceptors, and Frigates are all considered light tackle.) The biggest thing to worry about though is recons; if a Falcon is on the field while you're trying to fight 5v20, then you're in a terrible spot. More commonly you'll see Rapier/Huginn and Lachesis/Arazu. These completely change the dynamic of the fight: if the enemy is able to point at 50-60km, then most of your BCs wont be able to warp out after their shields become low.
Gang/Fleet composition is something that many FCs don't understand. The easiest way to fix this is to just ask yourself: "What do I want my fleet to do?". If you want to just roam around and gank lone pilots, then compose with lots of light tackle, an interdictor, then cloaky recons. This will allow you to catch just about anything on a gate and neutralize it via long range webs, points, jams, and neuts (if you have a curse with you; it isn't designed to be fit with a cloak). What this fleet comp does not allow you to do is take on equal numbers of just about anything; this is not a fighting comp, this is a ganking comp. If you're looking for a good brawl, put everyone in hurricanes and one guy in a frigate and just go looking for trouble. If you want to be able to fight outnumbered, then you need to start thinking about good damage projection and mobility.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
With ATX just around the corner last year, I asked myself how I could try to get the pilots in my alliance to think about their piloting. I chose to run small BC gangs: 1-2 Drakes, 2-4 720mm artillery Hurricanes, and a Lachesis. (This was before Tier 3 BCs came out). We had no logi, so people had to manage range well and when their shields were low they'd either warp out, or lose their ship. Before every fleet went out I'd give a speech about what we were trying to accomplish. It went something like this:
"OK guys, this is a long range fleet. If you're inside 20km, you're doing it wrong. Drakes need to be up front, to screen for the hurricanes and web shit down. You need to be aligned at all times. If someone tackles you, tell us the ship type and pilot name so that we can take care of it. We have no logi, so if you are taking damage, soak up as much as you can, then warp out and ask for a new warpin. I need to know AUDIBLY whenever a recon goes off grid. If we lose long range points I need to know about it."
Then I'd harp on about communication for a while, and we'd roll out. This got people focused on grid positioning, individual piloting, and overall situational awareness. Here are a few examples of what this looks like when done right. We never had logi or ECM in any of those fights, and in most cases the enemy did. In that last fight the enemy had Four Falcons and four Basilisks.
VERSUS HARD KNOCKS
Now, time to go over the fight in the video. When I figured out their numbers, they had eight Tier 3 BCs to our three. They also had a Malediction and a Heretic. The Heretic isn't a large issue, because he'll die so quickly; the Malediction does pose a problem, since it'll be near impossible to kill if flown well. We just had to hope that he was either bad, or that our Cynabal would be able to take him down. Their overwhelming over 2:1 odds on BCs meant that we'd want to start from range and see who would split off of the group. This is tricky -- if you're too far off, they wont take the fight; too close, and you'll die in a ball of fire and self loathing.
There is such a thing as target priority in this type of a fight, but it's not a list of ship types, i.e. Talos>Tornado>Oracle>Naga. Priorities are based on opportunity -- kill tackle whenever you can, otherwise you're unable to warp off after losing shields. After that, in this case, simply call what's closest as primary. This works well in this case, because most of the Tier Three BCs have roughly the same threat value and tank value.
After the fight stabilizes, I dive in with my Sleipnir to try and attract their fire, and also get tackle on primaries. Normally when I FC skirmish fleets, I like an easy role so I can focus on what other people are doing so they don't die when they make mistakes. However, this gang was small, and I had some very good pilots with me, so that wasn't as necessary. I made two mistakes in this part of the fight: First, I over-repped about a single cycle. (Not huge, but it matters.) Secondly, I let inertia carry me a bit too close to a Talos. This wasn't catastrophic, because the people we were fighting were spread out and disorganized; but, if they had been grouped tighter, I would have died there. We still probably would have won the fight, but it would have been an unnecessary loss. Another thing to point out is that both Bob Shaftoes, and Dradius had to warp out and back during that fight. You'll hear Dradius asking for a good warp in at one point in the video.
I hope you enjoyed the video, and the read. If you have any questions please leave a comment and I'll respond as best as I can.