Over the past several weeks, I’ve engaged in a lot of different kinds of fights, both solo and small gang. Some have been successful. Some have not. Fitting lessons aside, they haven’t really been particularly enlightening.
But yesterday, Repercussus took out a beam Confessor Fleet that included about 8 Confessors, a Svipul, and a few other assorted ships, mostly assault frigs. As we were on the way back, we happened across a Sleipnir sitting on the gate. Now, my first reaction was that this guy was probably dual xl-ASB fit and hoping to pick off a few of us, then let his agro timer die before jumping through the gate. I have to imagine this was in our FC’s mind as well.
We had three logi as we started attacking this command ship. Naturally, we all had gate gun fire, as the dirty pirates we are. But our logi was doing a tremendous job (thanks to Tattoos for all his hard work). Though the call was made to orbit at range to stay out of web range, I remember from experience that even with a web, a 425mm Sleipnir has trouble attacking a fast ship orbiting tightly. 220mm guns would pose some problems, but folks generally don’t fit 220s on battlecruisers unless they know definitively what they’ll be fighting. And as I pulled into my tight orbit, the dps ceased entirely.
As we applied damage and killed his drones, we noticed that he was, in fact, dual xl-ASB fit. We knew the window where we could begin working seriously towards damaging him would present itself eventually, but the Sleipnir was only half-way through his ASB charges when a Raven joined him. A quick check told us he was from the same corp as the Sleipnir, and we changed targets to shoot the Raven, whose tank isn’t as strong as a Sleipnir’s.
But the Raven was ASB-fit too… from the looks of it, dual-ASB, as well. The difference in tank was immediately noticeable: we had his armor to 10% when his ASB reload completed and he began to rep again. Though we were looking at another long waiting game of applying damage we knew would be topped off again, we could finish him off the next time his charges ran out.
Dual XL-ASB ships have flexible tanks and can withstand tremendous punishment. But really, this post isn’t about their tank. It’s about what no doubt happened after the fight. Having successfully taken on a twelve-man gang of mostly T3Ds, it would be natural to “benchmark” that as a fight you can and should take every time. I suspect those pilots are adjusting their sense of what their ships can successfully win against.
And that’s a big mistake.
You see, we were beam-fit, and my DPS with Scorch was in the 230’s range. Our fleet was constructed to flexibly fight at a variety of ranges and be resistant to scrams, but in this fight (against drones, missiles, and 425s), those advantages weren’t as critical (though they were at other points during the roam, and it was a good call).
My pulse Confessor fit gets 430 dps. Given the way the fight went down and the fact that we had three logi, the slight tank reductions I make for my pulse Confessor would not have changed my survivability (I lose buffer, not resists, so reps would be just as effective). And it’s reasonable to believe a lot of Confessor fleets would be fit a similar way.
And if all 8 of our Confessors were doing 430 dps instead of 230 dps… well, that Sleipnir would have been in a lot more trouble. Perhaps he wouldn’t have called in his friend if he was taking too much damage, and perhaps the whole fight was a result of him watching his damage notifications, realizing we were doing beam damage, doing the quick calculations about total incoming DPS, and concluded that he could tank the whole fleet. I doubt that all of this went into his decision to engage (we waited until he red-boxed for the entire fleet to engage).
The next time that Raven and Sleipnir faces another 12-man Confessor fleet, they could have quite a different experience if those T3s just so happen to be pulse-fit.
The trap of success is that it breeds overconfidence. In hockey, there’s a saying, “You’re never as good or as a bad as you think you are.” That’s true in Eve, and it’s particularly true when fighting T3 ships of all sizes, with their variety of fitting styles.
Just ask anyone who ever fought a Tristan.