This edition of Friday Fights is a little different than the usual 1v1 discussion. Right now we are often facing a challenge in the type of gang that some of our evil neighbors are running thru our system. These gangs tend to be made up of the normal ships, canes, vagas, drakes, ares, the usual usual and nothing special except for the occasional Cynabal or something. But they also primarily use Falcons. Sometimes one, sometimes more, and this has caused some consternation and thought amongst the general populace. So I thought it might be worthy of some further exploration.
What do you do about small gangs with Falcon support? ECM is nasty, we all know this, so how do you counter the ECM of the Falcon? A ship capable of taking 1-6 of your ships effectively off the field for certain periods of time? Well the answer is simple, it ain't easy.
There are several strategies for countering the Falcon led gang. Let's look at each of them and the pros and cons of each.
1. Fight Fire with Fire
Bring your own Falcons. Certainly the most effective counter is the same counter, even better if you can field more Falcons than the enemy! The trick here in a 1v1 situation is the pilots themselves and their skill with not only ECM but locking speeds, support skills and the fit of their Falcons. In a 1v1 situation it'll all come down to who gets lock first and how long can they maintain their jam of the other guys Falcon. Long enough for the other pilots to kill it and remove it from the field? YOu better hope so, because no matter how good your Falcon pilot might be, no jam lasts forever.
Result: Depends on the field of play as always, but this is the most effective counter to the enemy Falcon.
2. Light the Fuse!
Here's something you might not know, Falcons can't jam Bombs! Falcons are notoriously thin on tank, so lob a couple of bombs at them from your Stealthy cloaked bombers and explode them into a billion bits. This is harder to do than it sounds of course, in practice the best place for this tactic is on a gate. As I discovered the other day, the Falcon pilot is likely to just jump thru and avoid the perfectly placed bomb you are sending him. Of course, you could have a nice surprise waiting for him on the other side!
Result: Tough to set up, but very effective when done right. Having support on the other side of the gate is crucial if it can be done.
3. Bait and Switch
This one I used effectively in Providence last year on a Falcon led gang that was giving us some trouble. The key here is timing and having the right field, but it works well. The point is to do exactly what the Falcon wants you to do, engage so that he can jam you while his buddies jump into system and rape you. The thing is, the Falcon is falling into your tarp! What he doesn't know is that you have one or two stealth bombers cloaked off the gate. These SB have very specific instructions, they are not to engage the Falcon until the Falcon has everyone locked up and jammed. When the FC says go the SB un-cloak, lock the Falcon and one-shot it with torps. Boom!
Result: If you can set it up it works every time. Multiple Falcons just mean more of everything. The only real trick is the limited range of torps, so be aware of that. General I like to put the SB right on top of the gate about 4,500 above it. No one ever expects them to be there.
Just about any other combination of ships, hot-drops, cyno bushwackery, you name it can work. The question always comes down to what do you have available, how much and how quickly can you react? Sniper BS work to some degree (if anyone flew those anymore) because they are outside the jam range of the Falcon. The trick there is to maintain point on something that needs to be de-cloaked, pointed and held all while it doesn't want to be. Which is why that option didn't make my top 3 above.
The key element to killing Falcons in my opinion is this, move fast and do it with overwhelming brutality. You may have to do it again and again, but remember this... the Falcon pilot doesn't want to die. Even if you don't kill him, give him more to think about, make him feel out of his element, watching for those hidden cloaked ships, or watching for bombs on the gates, the more he is doubting things the less effective he'll be.
So what tactics have worked for you in countering the menace of the Falcon?