Friday, November 4, 2016

FC Lessons: Jumping the Gun

Friday night, I noticed that no one had pinged for a fleet yet, so I imported some Comets and Merlins right in the middle of Black Rise and sent out a ping. 7 people showed up – honestly not bad considering no one could plan their schedules around it and NC. had fleets earlier in the day that saw a lot of people clone jump to alliance staging.

I’m sure the ship selection probably raised a few eyebrows. My initial plan was to fly only the armor Comets, but I had space in my Occator’s hold and decided to fill it with some ships I might use solo or on another fleet. The Comets were MWD fit and the Merlins were AB fit, but in most cases we were fighting on the button of FW plexes anyways, right in scram range.

This was one of those pre-planning mistakes you can make that dramatically affects the success of a fleet. I didn’t expect to go through as many ships as we did during the night, but I should have planned better for the possibility by sticking to one – either MWD or AB – in case we got into a mixed fleet situation.

Suffice to say, it wasn’t the only mistake that happened that night.

Unlike most of our roams, I and our ships weren’t in our lowsec staging, so one of my corpmates led them on the trek to Kinakka. Naturally, of course, the route took them directly through an impromptu gatecamp by Mordus Angels in Nannaras that was larger than us, consisting of a Huginn, Lachesis, Scythe, a Vagabond, and a bunch of Cynabals.

We began to reship, but stopped when we realized we simply didn’t have the numbers.  Really, it was the Lachesis and Huginn that made the difference there. With the Huginn webbing any tackle that got close to ther Scythe, we wouldn’t be able to apply enough damage to kill it, and the Lachesis would limit our ability to disengage without taking losses, all while the nano cruisers pumped their dps into us.

Instead, I called for our ships to punch on through and continue down the pipe to Kinakka. We lost only one Comet as we snuck by, which I could replace at the end of the journey. It was a loss, but I wanted to get us over to where we’d find most of our action and away from that fleet. I honestly can’t feel too bad about that loss… it was an acceptable one.

The rest of the trip to Kinakka was uneventful, and when we arrived, we replenished our ships and I set a destination down the southern lowsec pipe through Black Rise towards Hikkoken. As we undocked, dscan revealed a Cynabal sitting at a plex. Our first target of the night…

I admit, I was expecting him to be nano-fit. If we could catch him, it shouldn’t be too difficult of a task to take him down. We warped around a bit, but eventually landed within 20 of him. I put out the call to get tackle, and set about an oblique approach to hopefully avoid much of his damage.

It didn’t end very well. While his speed was lower than expected, I assumed we simply caught him before he was able to burn too far away; we were quick with overheating our MWDs and getting within scram range. A lucky warp-in, right?

We were doing decent damage to his shields – about what I’d expect from a nano-fit – and then we ran into the brick wall that was his armor tank. He melted three of us – my Svipul, a Comet, and a Merlin – as I pulled us back.

It was a bloody nose, for sure. Taking down that Cynabal would have matched the cost of the entire fleet. My mistake really comes down to the AB/MWD split between our ships. If we’d have been able to get on top of him once I got initial tackle, we could have applied our full DPS. The Merlins, though, were out of the fight, and that made a big difference. The effort was doomed from the start.

Reshipping, we undocked to find more targets, again in Kinakka, which was turning out to be quite the hotbed of activity. I saw a Coercer on dscan, and narrowed him down to a small complex. Everyone aligned while I warped in, and as I saw him sitting on the acceleration gate, I called for the fleet to warp and got tackle.

My shields disappeared quickly, but that’s to be expected when flying an armor Comet against EM/thermal beams. My armor was holding up well until an Ishkur and Wolf showed up to help the Coercer. The fleet arrived shortly after, but I went down (second loss of the night) and the trio of enemies went through the rest of the fleet one by one.

We lost five in that engagement. A battle Venture, a Punisher, a Merlin, and two Comets. We were five, they were three, but we were all T1/faction, while they were T2 frigates and a destroyer. It was a pretty fair fight, and we got trounced. My mistake here was in not coming in as a group. Already, we knew they’d fight us, and it would have made a lot more sense to be patient, warp everyone together, and act as a unit.

So far, the night wasn’t turning out very well. Yet, we were having fun. I sent around another batch of ships and we went out again for a little revenge. Before we could, though we ran across a beam Confessor hunting us.

At this point, I was fed up with being prey. Another corpmate was joining from Tamo in a Hecate, a much-needed dps boost to our small fleet. As he entered system, we were pinning down the Confessor. Our fleet was in a small plex safe from him, with our Hecate and I trying to pin him down. He was exactly aligned with a celestial though, so I warped off and back at range, landing almost on top of him. He was a true glass cannon, having only one active repper for tank.

A Confessor for a Merlin? Now that’s a good trade. Things were starting to get back on track.

Very quickly after the Confessor fight, the Coercer and Wolf returned, this time with a Hawk instead of an Ishkur. Considering the range and options available to us, we primaried the Wolf. Things were honestly looking grim for us. We lost a Merlin and Comet quickly as we burned through the Wolf’s armor, but we were able to maintain tackle on everything. Once it was down, we turned to the Hawk; he exploded the exact moment I did in my Comet. By this point, we were down to just a Hecate and two Merlins, but we were able to finish off the Coercer. We killed 116 mil for 66 mil lost.

More importantly, though, that fight and the Confessor kill gave me some well-needed confidence. The space between the Confessor kill that started the whole thing and the Coercer going down was three minutes. In that time, we adapted to changing situations, took out a kiter that had punched us in the nose, and killed the whole fleet that had given us some trouble earlier on. The difference was 450 dps from the Hecate.  That’s really not a big swing in the grand scheme of things.

It was a good way to end the night, even if the beginning didn’t happen exactly according to plan. Ultimately, the fault was mine. I set up two different kinds of prop mods. I warped us in bit by bit.

Generally, I’m starting to see that my FC style is to take chances. I tend to fly the way I play poker- if I’ve got more than a 51% chance of winning, I’ll take the fight. In this case, Ishkur/Wolf/Coercer versus our fleet was too tough, but Hawk/Wolf/Coercer was successful (with the Hecate being the difference-maker). It wasn’t by any means a safe choice to engage with T1 resists on all our frigates. Likewise, with the Confessor. That ship was fitted to kite frigates specifically, and I bought… a frigate fleet to attack it (in that case, the Hecate wasn’t the difference-maker). In both cases, it was a lot of fun.

I’m starting to see that I’m likely going to take losses, and that’s okay, so long as I avoid situations like the beginning of that roam, and focus more on the end.

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