Docking: Tactic or Cowardice?

We had a spirited talk briefly yesterday in local regarding the unfortunate tendency of our enemies to dock up rather than fight us.  On several dozen or more (who keeps count?) opportunities faced by inferior numbers our opponents chose to dock up to the safety of the station.

They once out-numbered us by at least 4-1 and ran. Whatever, that isn't the point of this post.  Run, stay, dock up, whatever you want to do in Eve is totally up to you. The point of this post is what was said in defense of "docking up". It was suggested that doing so was a proper tactic in PvP.

I've given this some thought. The only time I can think of when docking-up is a proper tactic is immediately after undocking.  In the face of overwhelming station campers, war dec'ers, or bubbles, it is completely proper to simply re-dock. In fact, you'd be an idiot not to.  There is also one other time when docking up is actually a tactic of combat. Sometimes, and this is rare, docking and then immediately undocking can give you a tactical advantage over someone on station. Either that or provide bait on the undock. These instances don't really count here, since the intention is to immediately undock again.

But to say docking is a combat tactic is beyond silly. In most cases it is cowardice, pure and simple. Being actually "in" space is the only place from which tactical advantage can be gained over space combat. You have to be in space to fight in space.

Now the counter argument was weakly given. It seems the belief that "running" away is the same as docking up. This is not true at all.  Running away and then docking up would be. But seeking tactical advantage over your enemy is another thing. In fact, it is the pure definition of the word "tactic" to begin with. As any modern General will tell you, fighting a battle on your enemy's terms is a sure way to lose the battle.  

How do you get the enemy to fight on your terms? Not by docking up, but by moving to an area of advantage, regrouping, or seeking additional support. Warping to the sun, to a planet, to a belt, to the station... but staying in space.  These are tactical operations designed to give tactical advantage. No advantage is gained by being in the station, other then ensuring you don't die. 

Hiding is not the same as docking. Warping off to a safe spot is remaining in space, the opportunity still exists for the enemy to find you. More importantly however, the opportunity exists for you to take advantage of the enemy. Let's say you have 4 ships on the field and in system, doesn't matter what ships. Let's then say local spikes to 47 as an enemy fleet warps into local. Now, you would probably be stupid to engage. It seems from my experience that most FCs would tell their gang to dock up to "be safe". This is wrong thinking. So what should they do?

Right thinking is aggressive thinking. Think like a winner.  Warp to your random safe spots, or warp your gang to one. Wait. Try to get cloaky eyes on the enemy, what are they doing, where are they, what do they have? Even without eyes it is amazing what your d-scan can tell you. The enemy might just make a mistake, in fact they usually do. And while you may not take down all of their fleet, you may just be able to catch a few of them.  Heck, I know this works because we just did it yesterday... twice.

Now, please don't misunderstand me here. Even I have to dock sometimes, in fact most of my day is spent docked in station. And when faced with certain death at the hands of the blobbers, I will sometimes wait out the session timer and dock up if the fight was on station. I will also dock up to repair, seek re-supply or because I have to pee. But I can honestly and sincerely say that I have never run from a battle and docked up to avoid combat.

This might be one of the reasons why I die so much. So be it. It is how I choose to play the game. 

Some of us were complaining amongst ourselves yesterday about this. And I reminded our guys that the enemy running away isn't the issue. The issue is our inability to catch them and force them to stay. Last time I looked you can't run away if you are pointed. And docking won't help you when we catch you.

I leave you with only one thought. Space combat happens in space. So let's undock and dance.

PS: The picture above comes from Interstellar Privateer. Apologies, sometimes it can be difficult to determine the original source. Great shot though.