Monday, October 28, 2013

Lessons: “This is Probably Bait”

One of our newer FCs took out about a half dozen assault frigates last night.  We considered going into Catch and Providence, but opted for the shorter route of simply hanging around Doril and catch whoever we happened to find.  We made a quick pass towards VOL-MI, but in CL-85V, our forward scout reported a small Art of War gang manning a bubble on the other side of the gate.

After a quick debate, we decided to engage, but as our scout jumped back in and acted like he wanted to fight (ie. not running away), the gang warped off.

Quite disappointing after we were geared up for a fight.

But just as we warped off, a Fraternity. Drake landed in the bubble on-grid.  He was of an entirely different alliance, so we felt the chances of a trap were minimal.  We quickly made our way back to the gate, only to see him warp off to the sun as we landed.

With only one of his alliance in system and no prior experience with his group, we thought it was fairly likely that he had simply panic-warped.  So again, into warp we went, heading to the sun at 0.

When we arrived, we saw the Drake about 70 off – it wasn’t a panic warp after all.  We started to burn towards him, getting within 20 before he warped back to the gate.  “He’s gonna land in the bubble,” someone said.

At this point, things were starting to look suspicious.  If this was a trap, it’d make sense for his gang to jump in as we were in warp so they could close range with the bubble by the time we landed, but local hadn’t spiked yet.  I recalled that the bubble was about 30 off the gate, and we were all in assault frigates, so I wasn’t terribly worried yet.  Our FC said, “This is probably bait,” but we wanted a fight, so we warped to the gate.

One of our faster pilots reported that the Drake was, in fact, in the bubble.  As I landed, I grabbed point and web.  I was in a Daredevil, so my web dropped him to 10% of his base speed, or about 25 m/s.

Our gang started to work on him, but it became apparent that he was armor-tanked.  The scram and target painter he put on me only confirmed it.  So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when a Vagabond gang jumped through the gate.

Fortunately, I was on the edge of the bubble, and I started to align out (relatively) slowly at 450 m/s as I watched my shield go down, then my armor start to dwindle.  I noticed that he kept a scram on me even at about 15-16 km (boosted, overloaded, likely), but eventually I broke his scram and warped out.  I was at 49% structure.

A Wolf and Dramiel in our fleet weren’t so lucky (  The FC announced that the Drake was into structure when we left.  I can honestly say that I survived because I had been primaried, and had to bail before the rest of his friends began applying their damage.

Whether Fraternity. was working with Art of War, I can’t say.  But, it wouldn’t surprise me.  I know that Syndicate alliances tend to team up when an outsider alliance, particular a sov null-sec alliance, comes into the neighborhood, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same is true of Curse alliances.

These days, there are certain ships no one flies except as bait, and the Drake is one of them.  But this pilot knew exactly what to do by waiting until the Art of War gang warped off.  He understood that a small gangs wants to fight, and appearing to lumber into a bubble (“Oh gosh, a bubble?  I’m doooooomed!”) just as we’d gotten ourselves ready for and been denied a fight, he could take advantage of our psychological vulnerability.  Even as we knew what was going to happen, we still went on in anyways, because we wanted a fight.

The lesson here?  A roaming gang wants to fight, and you can take advantage of this simple fact to get them to engage you through very simple, transparent tactics.  The only thing worse than roaming for a long while and getting no kills is roaming for a long while and being denied the one opportunity for a fight you had – be it through you running away or the enemy refusing to engage.

So, even though the smart move may be A, if B conforms to a frustrated opponent’s objectives better, you can usually bait them into doing B, even if it puts them at a disadvantage.  Last night, the Drake wouldn’t have succeeded if we’d just gotten a few kills to justify the effort we put in.  But as it was, the only kills I’d had all night were a few opportunity kills from stragglers fleeing an NC./BL fight near Doril, and those being a couple hours ago.  Desperation overwhelms reason in most cases.

That’s why I love Eve.  You can’t use applied psychology to get kills in any other game quite like you can in Eve.

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