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I focus almost exclusively on PvP, whether solo, small gang, or large bloc warfare. In the past, I've been a miner, mission runner, and faction warfare jockey. I'm particularly interested in helping high-sec players get into 0.0 combat.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lessons: A Kiting Camp

Lessons articles will detail engagements I was involved in and break down both good and bad decisions made by myself and my opponents. The purpose of these articles is to educate, not embarass.

I had intended to write more of these battle break-downs, but I honestly haven’t had many successful PvP roams.  No kills, but at least I haven’t died either.

After a major null-sec war, all the participants are usually a little burned out.  The round-the-clock fleets come to an end and folks need to generate their own content again – they need to look for their own fights.  As a result, PvP tends to drop off for a week or so.  The same thing happened to me, but it’s thankfully coming to an end.

Yesterday, one of my corp mates, an alliance mate, and my 2 characters rolled through a wormhole to try to find a few targets in Catch.  (Incidentally, I also have a few things to say about the advantages and difficulties dual-boxing.)

We popped into Catch in K717-8, deep in Initiative renter space, and found the typical ratters who safe up immediately upon a local spike.  Pickings were slim, and we only got one Noctis kill before we decided to head back.  On the way, my prober jumped into two Tornados and a Naga at range.  Finally, someone we could fight.

The Engagement

I quickly cloaked, warped off, and launched my probes to get a hit.  The rest of my fleet sat on the other side of the gate.  After getting a hit on one of the Tornados, I warped in at range to get eyes on them, and I was glad I did.  They were smart – continually moving from one safe spot to another in a diamond shape in relation to the gate.  At most times, the three ships were occupying different points along the diamond, shifting randomly and frequently.

With the scanning system, it’s important to remember that if you get a hit, but the enemy ship warps off, your scanner will still warp you to the position where you got that hit.  So when one of the Tornados warped away, I warped to his safe at 0 and burned off a little, ensuring that I was at least 160 km off the gate and that I wouldn’t be decloaked when one of the hostiles warped back to that safe.  My calculations were exact… one of the Tornados landed about 6 km off me.

At this point, the other Tornado was 280 km off, and the Naga was 230 km off, and I gave the order to jump.  The Sabre (my other character’s ship), Proteus, and Talos all jumped in and warped to my prober at 10 km – landing right on the Tornado.

Alt-Tabbing to my Sabre, I knew I had to build up enough transversal before he could lock and shoot me.  Even at point-blank range, a sniping Tornado can melt anything standing still.  He managed to hit me once – taking me down to 30% shield – but by then, it was too late and I had him bubbled.  With my Sabre in a tight orbit, I decloaked my probing character’s Rapier and put both my webs on him as the rest of the fleet got in close and cut him down.

As we were taking the first Tornado down, the other Tornado warped into my Sabre’s bubble.  Switching my Rapier’s point and one of the webs to that second Tornado, we took him down as well.

The Naga was still on field, albeit in 230 km away.  Knowing what was coming next, my fleet mates had already burned out of the bubble and aligned to him.  After another hit of my scanner, we were in warp.  First to get tackle was our Proteus – I had been focusing on my prober and didn’t have time to align my Sabre.  Once the Sabre did land, we got this beautiful pod.  A good showing for us, all things considered.

The Analysis

I have to give credit to the enemy gang… they recognized that their ships would crumple up close, and they set up a diamond formation to ensure that only one ship would be tackled at a time.  Their ships had enough of a tank to let them survive while help warped at range.  And they kept moving to avoid being dropped on directly.

But this fight shows that small mistakes can have tremendous costs.  When I dropped my probes, they didn’t align out.  And they kept using the same safe spots – warping to 0 every time.  You should always warp at some range so the enemy can’t crack your safe spot.  Those two mistakes lost them their first Tornado and a 100 mil pod.

I highly suspect that second Tornado tried to warp to his friend at range to apply his damage without exposing himself to danger.  But, he was dragged right into my Sabre’s bubble.  Not realizing this would happen was their second mistake.

Once the first Tornado was tackled, his fate was sealed.  The smart move would have been to let him die.  Perhaps the presence of a Proteus in our fleet gave the second Tornado visions of a shiny T3 killmail.  Or maybe – since all three were in the same corporation – he wanted to defend his brother.  In either case, it led to his death, too.

As far as the Naga… I can’t imagine why he wasn’t aligned out and ready to warp off.  Perhaps he forgot about my probes, or perhaps he was focusing too much on comms chatter about the fight.  In either case, he wasn’t paying attention, and died because of it. 

But our performance was hardly a complete success, either.  The enemy had a scout on our side of the gate.  We should have kept the Proteus within jump range of the gate, but cloaked, to disguise our strength.  If the enemy gang had been more cautious, we would have scared them off.

It’s also worth noting that a lot of folks will pull their probes after they get a successful hit to minimize the window of time an enemy might see them on dscan.  This is fine if you’re hunting a single ratter, but is a mistake if you’re engaging multiple ships.  The more enemy eyes, the less successful your probe-hiding maneuver will be.  If I had pulled my probes, we would have missed out on that Naga kill.

All in all, it was a good engagement, and offered some lessons – both positive and negative – about small gang warfare.

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