Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lessons: The Road Not Taken

A few months ago, I purchased a new character with the intention of placing her in a corp that specialized in small gang roaming.  I was targeting small US TZ corporations who roamed through PvP-rich environments.  I wasn’t ready to go full pirate (read: -10.0 sec status, ever to set foot in high-sec again) and didn’t quite have the skills trained up to go wormhole (scanning and T3s), so I was looking closely at the corporations that fought in Curse and Syndicate.

As an added treat, they would have to be fine with two of my characters still remaining in Razor.  And because of that affiliation, I didn’t want to join another CFC alliance, and our enemies were pretty much out, too.  While some might unknowingly accept an alt of a CFC player, if they did, they wouldn’t be as sharp and on-the-ball as I wanted.

Believe it or not, it’s an incredibly tough task.  The US time zone is smaller than EU, but there are still a lot of opportunities out there.  I was impressed with Rote Kapelle, but having characters in other alliances was a deal-breaker.

One of the groups I looked at carefully was Appetite 4 Destruction, based in Curse.  They seemed to have a good set of folks who valued pilots who knew what they were doing.  They kept their group small, and had high standards.  It was just what I was looking for.

Ultimately, I decided to wait until making a choice, which worked perfectly, as it turned out.  TEST deployed to Curse, Razor followed, and soon every major sov alliance found themselves staging out of the same constellation.  Suddenly, the small gang specialists in Curse found themselves drowning in sov fleets.  It only got worse when the next great sov war broke out one region over.

Razor really didn’t come across A4D very often.  The one time we did, A4D executed a brilliant maneuver in which they caught our entire Oracle/Talos fleet in a bubble and bombed us to oblivion.  They had just enough bombers to kill us – the last one popped me, and most of our pods managed to escape.

So I was delighted when we went out yesterday and came across an A4D gang of about 11-12 pilots (plus their FC, Sygma at a perch in a Stiletto, if I recall correctly).  We had about 27, but the majority of us were in Crows, with t5 T1 frigs, a Vagabond, and two assault frigs, one of which was me.  So, we were very light on DPS, with squishy ships.  We had control over the decision to engage, but once we did, we would have to follow primaries carefully.  Significantly, they had a Scythe for logi, two Caracals (which eat up intys), and a Rapier (another inty-killer).  They also had a Thorax which would either obliterate us or be wholly ineffective, depending on range.

They were set up on the other side of a gate, with their FC in a Stiletto on a perch on our side of the gate reviewing our fleet comp.  Interceptor fleets are a new thing, and that probably had a hand in both FCs’ decisions to engage… ours to determine exactly how strong these fleets were and what ratios we would need to succeed, and theirs to determine how well their counters were working.

We jumped into them, so we started at close range.  Their logi was already at range, and their Rapier was hanging out on the edge (at least from my perspective).  For all intents and purposes, their high-priority ships were all about 40 km apart, meaning our Sabres and assault frigs had to MWD quite a bit to get within range to bubble and attack, respectively.

Our six bubbles went up, but our Sabres were down very early in the fight.  We started in on their Scythe, then Bellicose, then Rapier.  Their Rapier was successfully slowing down interceptor after interceptor, but once its webs were gone, we had no problem finishing off their fleet.  Our bubbles were starting to go down as the Rapier died (intys don’t have much dps, remember, and our AFs had to burn to close range to apply their damage), but in that time, they managed to kill four intys and an easy-to-kill Burst.  I was their last primary, and as we cleared the field, I was at about 40% armor in my Retribution.  Here’s the battle summary.

Immediately after the fight, I thought we had only lost the two Sabres (and they’re meant to die, after all), and I thought we dunked them easily.  I was about ready to write another “this is why interceptors are overpowered” post.  But the fight was actually very close.  If they’d had two Scythes, they might have been able to rep each other until we changed primaries, then turned their reps to the Rapier.

That Rapier and Bellicose were the keys to the fight; had they lived, we would have been done for.  Our strategy was to take them out as quickly as possible – first by taking down the logi, then the Bellicose to eliminate the target painters (we obviously didn’t realize the Bellicose didn’t actually have any TPs fit…).

All in all, though, A4D deserves a great deal of credit.  They fought outnumbered 2-1 against a doctrine no one has really had a lot of time to develop counters for, and they did quite well, considering.  One pilot changing to another logi would have made all the difference.  They also kept their cool, too.  I can’t think of a thing they did wrong, either before or during the fight.

There are a few corporations/alliances that we all really enjoy fighting against.  Maybe they’re ones we used to belong to in the past, or corps you know will give you a good fight every time.  In this case, I had the chance to fight against a corp from a possible present.

And it couldn’t have turned out better if I’d planned it.  A close fight – one side fighting against the odds, the other fighting with a bunch of pea-shooters more suited to avoiding engagements than taking them.  A4D can be proud of their performance against such numerical superiority, and we learned a little more about exactly what sort of fleet comp we can and cannot take with those pea-shooters (namely, what sort of damage one logi and one Rapier can do to us, whatever the odds).

Maybe I’m just a little partial to it because I know more about A4D through my research of them than another corp we might come across.  But I’d like to think it’s respect, not familiarity.  I can respect a group that engages with an uncertain outcome.

Oh, and I do take a little comfort from my instincts about a corporation being right.  I thought they’d opt to take a fight that was a bit iffy, and that’s exactly what they did.

Well played, sirs.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is the most accurate and respectful description of the the mentality of A4D. Salute to you 07.