Gang Tactics is a new on-going series in which we explore the fine art of death dealing in small gang warfare. This series is not intended as a technical exploration, but as a guide to the fundamental basics involved in small gang warfare in New Eden. And hopefully, one that is enjoyable and educational.
Part One: The Basics
Part Two: DPS
Part Three: Travel
This series is intended to encourage pilots to fly in small gangs, to remove the mystery from combat in Eve and help the new, experienced and veteran pilots better understand the fundamentals involved in organizing, traveling and fighting in a small gang. As such, I have strived to remove all of the usual technospeak from the series. For example, instead of calling certain ships "Force Multipliers" I called them "Tippers". Because they tip the scale of most fights. In my experience, this makes it much easier to learn and understand the concepts involved. If you are looking for more detailed, technospeak articles, the internet is full of them. This series is not one of those.
So we've covered the basics of forming your small gang, getting the proper mix of DPS and getting out of your system to find targets. We even covered a simple ratting ship take-down and the tactics you need to successfully kill your target. As I mentioned in the last post however, you will rarely encounter a solo ratter at a belt. Typically your potential targets are going to be a tad harder to find. So this post is going to be focused on finding those targets and successfully putting them in their pods.
Potential targets tend to be in the following areas: Docked, in a POS, on station, at a Celestial, in warp, in an Anomaly or in a Mission, or at a Gate. So let's take these one at a time and see how we can not only find them, but more importantly, what ships we might need to add to the mix in order to do so successfully. For each of these examples we'll assume a single target in a "clean" system, just to avoid exponential complications.
Docked: So this person is in local but is docked up in station. You could just move along to the next system, but let's pretend you are real killers and want to destroy him. There are actually some tactics that you can try to tease the docker out into space. If you are following the previous discussed tactics in previous chapters you only have one person in local. Assuming your scout doesn't have GCC ( if you are in low-sec and your scout does have GCC, simply have him leave local and send someone in who doesn't. If you happen to be in Null, well then, it doesn't matter. ) If there are multiple stations in local, have your scout dock and undock to find the station our ship spinner is in. Once you find him, stay docked for a couple of minutes. Open the Guests tab and watch, you'd be surprised how often the ship spinner will undock once he sees someone else in station with him. Spend those minutes looking at his info and use what you learn to help determine if this guy is worth the effort. If he happens to be a killer pilot you can sometimes use his own ego against him, remember he has no idea what you are flying or that you have other ships waiting in the next system. Don't waste a lot of time here, he could just as easily be AFK.
The last ditch effort is leave system, wait a few minutes, then have your mates jump in and see if he is on D-Scan. Sometimes they'll undock once system local is clear and you can catch him in-between your gang.
In a POS: This one is more tricky. Usually I don't bother with POS babies much, since the POS could be defended with nasty stuffs like guns, or ECM, or something. Especially in Low-Sec, POSes are typically carebear safe houses, so the odds of tricking them out are almost nill. Your D-Scan will tell you the status of the POS, what defenses it might have, etc. If you decide to make a try, send your tasty bait ship ( which depends on what ship they have, send the ship that the enemy would consider an easy target.) If the POS has guns and you don't have a ship that can take punishment, then don't bother. The idea isn't to fight on the POS, the idea is to draw the enemy out and have him follow you somewhere safe. Remember, unlike an enemy in a station, his d-scanner still works. Show him a tasty kill and see if he takes the bait.
On a Station: Now the enemy is in space. But they are on station. This one simple situation deserves an entire post all its own, but I'll try to summarize the tactics involved here. Some things to keep in mind if you are in Low-Sec. Station guns hit out to 150. Station guns hurt, especially small ships. If the enemy is positive or neutral standing, then attacking him on station will result in you getting GCC and the station will shoot you. If the enemy is negative standing, then you can shoot at will. In Null these rules do not apply and anyone is fair game on station.
First example: he is in a Drake on the undock and he is negative standing. Your scout should stay off the station, since he will be mostly useless in this fight, but can stand by the catch the Drake if he decides to warp off. Have one ship jump in and warp to station at Drake range, which is usually about 70-80, so warp in at about 50. When you land align out to a celestial, something close and easy to see. ( When align-baiting never pick a celestial in a cluster, since it will be hard for the target to see exactly where you went. Always try to pick one that sits alone in the sky.) Start shooting the target. He will either dock, shoot back or warp off. If he docks he was gonna do that no matter what you did. If he warps off watch where he goes and send your scout there to catch him. If he starts shooting you don't panic yet, there are still two options in this scenario. He is sitting still shooting you or he is coming towards you and shooting you. Stay aligned! If he is sitting still, have your mates jump in and warp to station at zero and engage. They need to kill him fast if he stops aggro, which he probably will once local jumps. You can warp off and return to help. If he is chasing you, so much the better. Wait until he gets a bit further from the station and then have your mates jump in and warp to station at the enemies range. Don't forget to get points, especially Webs if you have them, since he can still warp away. Webs will cut his speed down and keep him from returning to station.
Second example: he is in a Drake but he has positive standings. Since you do not have Logistics in your small gang this scenario is much like the first one, except you do not want to fight at the station. You still warp in the same as above, align out to an easy celestial (You can have your Scout do this) and then warp off. The idea is to get him to follow the easy kill, point him, and then have everyone jump in to kill him.
There are an infinite variety of scenarios involved in fighting on station, but what I've just given you is the fundamental ingredients involved in all of those scenarios. If you understand the basics involved, you can address any and all scenarios you will face using those basic principals. No matter how many ships are involved.
Celestials: We already covered this in the last post and the tactics are the same with a ship in a belt, planet, custom office, etc.
In Warp: If you enemy is already in Warp, or warped away from you, finding him involves watching where he went and using your d-scan tactics to find him. If he warped to any of the above locations, then simply use those tactics to engage him. If he warped to a Gate you should also. As the Scout you should jump ahead of him if you can ( to determine who might be in local over there, but also the get point on him when he jumps) and have your mates jump in and also warp to the gate.
Anomalies and Missions: Both of these are easier if you have a Prober along with your gang, either in the main gang or as an alt of someone. If you do not have a Prober along Missions are going to be off-limits to you, there really is no other way to find a Missioner imbedded in a Mission. However, anomalies are a different story. You can find someone running an Anomaly without a Prober and here is how.
In addition to your directional scanner, you also have a System Scanner. The system scanner takes about 25 seconds to scan the system and show you the various anomalies in the system. Your target is at one of these, but which one? It is tricky and time consuming, but it can be done. Wrecks are the key, wrecks and drones. Your d-scanner will pull this information for you. I find the quickest way is the following, double-click the anomaly and wait until your ship aligns, then stop its warp. Now your ship is pointed in the direction of that anomaly, now run the d-scan at maximum and see if any wrecks or drones appear. Continue doing this until you get a hit on wrecks, drones or the enemy ship. There is also the option of simply warping to each one, or guessing and warping, or having your mates jump in and everyone picks one to warp to. ( We used to call that a Belt Blitz in Null, when you have as many ships as belts, everyone jumps in and warps to a different belt.)
If you do have a Prober along, then use him. He is also the only real way to find enemy ships hiding in a safe spot.
At a Gate: Gate tactics are so complicated they really do deserve their own post. So the next post in this series will be focused on fighting and killing on Gates in both low and null sec space. Once we've covered the basics of gate fighting we'll start teaching tactics for fighting other small gangs and eventually larger enemy fleets.
Eve is a complex and ever changing universe and the advice and information given here is intended as an overview to small gang tactics in that universe. I encourage you to seek out more detailed information, advice and strategy from your fellow Corp and Alliance mates, on the forums, or from other Bloggers. Feel free to ask me specific questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them or point you in the right direction.