Defining the Small Gang

Plus one.

A few months ago, I spotted a comment on one of the blogs, a statement as to the size of a small gang in “small gang pvp”. The poster said small gang pvp was fleets 5 to 30 people.As a pilot that flies in small gangs of 2 to 12 people, I was a little taken aback as the idea one guy’s small gang was 3 to 5 times larger than my own. 30 guys seems kind of extreme for “small gang”. Friend of mine, TuxedoMask of Justified Chaos, regularly pvps in gangs of 2 to 4 guys.

I guess that’s micro gang pvp.

Don’t laugh. Appetite 4 Destruction, one of the better small gang pvp corps in Curse, categorizes gangs into micro, small, medium and large gangs. They set a standard for gang size that allows them to assess and communicate both threats and opportunities. They’re successful because they all read from the same page.

It’s a common misconception among players that their standards are universal. They fail to understand that standards are defined at the personal, corporate, alliance, or coalition level, and go no further than that. How you see and play Eve is either personal or part of a corporate culture.

To be blunt, we’re all not playing the same Eve.

So I posted on my corp forums and asked the staff and students to “define small gang pvp” and I got a lot of answers. Some of them good, some of them just silly, but the vast majority of OUCH pilots defined small gang at about ten ships. A few thought ship size mattered and excluded capitals or battleships. One of the guys said small gang was based off of the gang’s apparent fleet strength: add 1 battlecruiser to a small gang of 5 battlecruisers and it becomes a medium gang. That means a dozen attack battlecruisers with logi could be considered large gang. Many thought that small gang is in the eye of the beholder: one pilot’s small gang is another pilot’s blob.

The results of my informal survey reaffirmed my belief that Eve’s sandbox environment does not lend itself to universal standards, even within a corp culture.

But I think CCP has tried to set a universal standard. We just don’t always use it. It’s based off the the fleet manager: Squads, Wings and Fleets.

I think that the basic small gang is 2 to 12 guys. A squad. Fleet Commander. Wing Commander. This format is best noted by the fleet compositions of an Alliance Tournament team. I don’t think anyone will argue that the AT format is not small gang pvp.

Add ships up to another full squad (a reinforced squad in military parlance) and still call it a small gang. That puts the upper limit on small gang at about 22 ships. Above 20 ships, but below 50 is a wing. One wing is either large gang, or small fleet, depending on your perspective, but once you start arranging squads into wings, I think you’re in Fleet, or large scale, PvP.

Fleet manager, for the win.

You’ll notice that I haven’t said anything about ship size. That’s because from my point of view, if you take 5 Cruisers, 5 Battlecruisers, 5 Battleships and 5 Carriers and put them all in one fleet, that’s only 20 ships, and 20 ships is a small gang.

Like the time you guys tackled a carrier and got hotdropped by four Pandemic Legion supercarriers?

Well, maybe that’s not a small gang I would choose to engage, but it’s a small gang nevertheless.

Minus one.

The “Disruption” Line

Plus one.

So CCP has battleship changes coming out with Odyssey. I’m disappointed. Disappointed enough to write about it, but let me preface this post with two important points:

First, I am an ECM pilot.  I am a Falcon pilot. I fly the Falcon on my main character. I get out of the Falcon occasionally to fly one of the other 80 fit ships (30 different types, probably need to give some away) in my main hanger. More often than not, the ship I fly will be fit with some sort of racial EWAR. Frequently enough, I fly Griffins or Blackbirds. When I am done, I typically get back in the Falcon.

There are 12 T1 battleships in the game, and only one of them is bonused for EWAR: the Caldari Scorpion. An ECM platform, it’s a one of a kind “disruption” battleship. All of the other major faction battleships are designed to do damage and tank damage. The Scorpion is designed to do neither.

My second point is, even though I am an ECM Pilot, I see absolutely no reason to fly the Scorpion.

My thoughts on this are simple: CCP screwed over the Caldari by making them the masters of EWAR. They continue to tweak the game to decrease the effectiveness of what most players claim to be an overpowered game mechanic. The vast majority of pvpers want to see maximum damage applied and the only fair way to counter damage is through healing, er, logistics.

Well, removing the ability to lock your target and apply damage is a violation of the Universal Eve Online Player Versus Player Code of Conduct.

Are you trying to piss me off? Cause it’s working.

What? Who? Me? Never.

So, when it comes to battleships, each race has three, but the Caldari has one that can neither tank nor gank. It’s role is “disruption” and a “disruption” battleship in a field full of “combat” or “attack” battleships is, by fleet doctrine, is the most dangerous ship on the field. Not because it can do great damage, but because it negates damage. A Scorpion can potentially negate the damage output of as many ships as it has jammers.

At a variable percent chance based on a ratio of Jam strength to Sensor strength, for 20 seconds at a time.

A maxed skilled pilot with Battleship 5 in an appropriate fit PvP Scorpion has a 47.4 percent chance to jam a Maelstrom each cycle and a 32.5 percent chance to jam a Rokh.  If you are an ECM pilot, you will recognize that those are really crappy numbers to work with.

47.4 percent chance to jam means that you have a 52.6 percent chance to be primary by the Maelstrom.  Against a Rokh, that number is 67.5.  If you’re primary and you can’t stop all incoming damage, or if you don’t have great healers, you can expect to lose your ship. In a battleship meta game where ships are removed from the field by alpha strike, this can make flying a Scorpion a costly proposition.

So it bothers me that the Caldari have the only “disruption” battleship. Everyone hates ECM, unless it’s on your side, and then many will only tolerate it. I try not to let that bother me, but the lack of tracking disrupting, sensor damping or target painting battleships means that the Caldari pilot doesn’t have the choices that his counterparts have. He can choose a well tanked missile throwing BS, or a hybrid sniper BS, neither of which is lauded for their damage output, only one of which is used in the current large SOV fleet meta. The Caldari’s third choice, the entry level battleship, is a “disruption” battleship, suited for a PvP play style that is shunned.

And it bothers me that the disruption role that the Scorpion fills can be better filled by a Rook or a Falcon. The Scorpion is just a slow, low scan resolution, under-tanked, under-gunned, under-droned battle ship.

Well, it does have great range.

Range is nice. Sniper battleships like range too, and there are almost always more of them than one slow locking, slow moving, under tanked, large signature radius, “disruption” battleship can handle. And at sniper ranges, a remote sensor damping ship using range damping is likely to be more effective than a jamming ship.

It bothers me that a battleship is so weak that I would rather fly a T1 cruiser in the same role than risk using the Scorpion in PvP.

I have a Scorpion: It was a gift to me from OUCHs training director.  I wouldn’t buy one for myself.  If I did Incursions, I might actually use it in an ECM role.  I’ve heard that there’s some application for ECM during those missions. But I’ve tried to make it something other than just an ECM platform. For PvE, you can try to shield tank it, cause it has lots of mids.  I find it’s a better passive than active tank, but still, it’s not a great. I’ve tried to get some DPS out of it, with missile launchers and target painters. You just can’t get a decent balance of tank and gank on a Scorpion that you can on a Raven or a Rokh. Overall, it’s horrible.

It’s no Drake, that’s for sure.

No Drake? It’s supposed to be a battleship for crying out loud. Even taking into account that it’s an EWAR platform, it still should be able to out tank and out damage a battlecruiser.

So you got a fix for it?

Yep. Simple, too. Get rid of the ECM Burst bonus. It’s so special purpose that it’s useless. OUCH took down a solo Scorpion on a gate in Curse once. He burst, we lost lock, relocked, retackled and continued to break him. There were just too many of us for that ECM Burst to work for defense.

Replace it with a hybrid bonus to tracking, or a bonus to drone range or damage, and give it a 150m3 drone bay. Get rid of the missile hardpoints, give it 5 or 6 turret hardpoints. Adjust the CPU and Powergrid so you can choose: Tank and Gank, or ECM and Tank, or ECM and Gank. Then let the pilots figure it out.

It won’t compete with the Raven, the Raven’s tank will be better. It won’t compete with the Rokh, the Rokh’s ranges will be better. It would compete with the Dominix, the Typhoon, and the Armageddon.

News flash:  It’s supposed to.

You think it’s that simple?

Look, I admit I’m not a guy that crunches numbers. I’m not a min-maxer looking to squeeze an extra percent or two of performance out of a ship or fit. I fly ships.  I develop tactics based on what works and what doesn’t and the Scorpion just doesn’t work for me.   Doesn’t work in PvE, except maybe in Incursions.  It’s doesn’t work in my style of small gang PvP and I suspect it’s of limited use in other styles of PvP.

If CCP wants to, they can change the Scorpion, make it a viable combat ship and maintain its “disruption” role. In doing so, they could develop a path to tweek other Tier 1 battleships, give them “disruption” roles too, and maintain their combat effectiveness.

And they could do it without making a brand new “disruption” line of Battleships.

Minus one.

CSM8 Vote Link

Break Break.

Let me help you out.

Vote for CSM8 Here

CCP can make life so difficult.

They made the poll place hard to find… do you think it could be on the main Eve Online Main Page?

Then the drag and drop was clunky which made it a pain in the ass to change the order.

Drag. Drop. Nope. Drag. Drop. Nope. Arrrggghhh!

Harden the <boop> up, dude.

On the bright side, my voting preferences were maintained when I switched accounts.

Log in. Go to correct page. Vote. Done.

Make sure you exercise your franchise, even if it’s just for video game student council.

Fast Food

Plus one.

So the other day, I had about ten minutes in between life and life to log in and play Eve.

Not a lot of time.

Nope, but I jump in TS to at least talk to my homies while I check my Evemail, and, well, what do you know, I hear the boys talking all tactical.

What’s up, I ask?

Playing gate games with a couple of unfriendly battlecruisers.

Where they at?

In system with you, on the in gate.

As usual, I’m in a Falcon. Not the most appropriate ship for this mission. I slip out of the Falcon and get in a Hawk. Seems too small to take on a pair of BCs, even with backup right next door. I try on a Stabber Fleet Issue. Too Boo Coo. Might scare them off.

We don’t want that.

OUCH pilots love the Merlin, I’ve posted our fits here before. In the old days, those of us that upgraded to T2 always flew Hawks: AB / Scram / Tank / Dual Web.

Rockets, of course. In the old days, way back before Crucible at least, hybrid-using Caldari were a rare breed.

One of my bros retired from the life of a large SOV alliance BC/BS/capital pilot this past year. He came out to Curse to hang with our crew, and we introduced to the joys of frigate flying. We gave him a T1 Meta 0 Merlin. No T2 guns, definitely no rigs.

He took down a lot of ships in that Merlin. He upgraded the guns and the tank, started calling it the “best ship in the game”, that is, until he fell in love with the Harpy.

 Harpy, Chaser Tackle

Light Neutron Blaster II x 3

Limited 1MN Microwarpdrive

J5B Warp Scrambler

Medium F-SB Shield Extender

EM Ward Field II

Damage Control II

Micro Auxiliary Power Core I

Overdrive Injector II

Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer I

Small Anti-Explosive Reinforcer I

Fleet fit, he’s probably taken thousand ships with that ship this year. It’s deceptive. I presume that most of our adversaries don’t give it a second thought, right up until they’re getting their tail kicked in.

The Harpy is, like, the best ship in the game, dude.

So I jump into the “best ship in the game” undock and warp right to the in gate. I land 5k off of the Hurricane, lock him up: Scram on Hurricane. I orbit the ‘Cane as both BC’s lock me up.

Come on fellas, it’s only a frigate. You can do it.

When the ‘Cane drops below 70 percent shields, they both engage me. I announce they’ve agressed and the cavalry jumps in.

Tally ho!

I’m tanking the ‘Cane and his drones pretty well. When the Drakes drones and missiles cross the distance, things start looking a little rough. I wait, my shields degrade and I go into armor. I hold the ‘Cane until I hear that there’s another tackler on him. Then I align, turn on my MWD and burn away, shooting over my shoulder, dragging the Hurricane’s warriors away with me. The Drake’s drones don’t follow: they are heading back to mama.

The fleet takes down the ‘Cane. Boom. The Drake is trying to deagress and jump out, but he’s scrammed and webbed. My shields are regenerating, covering up armor that looks like Swiss cheese. I tell myself that I should be okay, and head back in to help finish the Drake. Boom.

Then real life rears its head again and I have to go. I thank my mates and warp back to station to dock up and repair. 2 battlecruisers. Not a bad for ten minutes of play.

Almost as easy as picking up Micky Dee’s at the drive-thru.

I’m lovin’ it.

Minus one.