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.