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 more of a guide to the fundamental basics involved in small gang warfare in New Eden. And hopefully, one that is enjoyable and educational.
Now that we've covered the basics of small gang formation and the various types of damage your small gang should be doing, it is time to head out of your home system and find some good fights. Which is the whole purpose of getting your friends together in space in the first place.
For the sake of the post let us give you some ships. You have a Taranis, 2 Hurricanes, a Drake, and that other ship that always shows up. ( It doesn't matter what it is, someone always brings it. For the sake of argument let's call it a Caracal.) This is a good small gang, five ships ready to rumble. You have the bases covered, tackle with the Ranis ( not the fastest tackle, but a strong choice for survivability ), solid DPS with 2 Arty fit Canes and the Drake. Even the Caracal doesn't break our formation rules, since he'll be firing from the same range bubble as the other three. The Caracal also helps us get good fights. Cause it is excellent bait.
In this set-up we don't have a typical tipping ship, a Falcon, or Curse, or something else that will tip the battle in our favor. Which is ok, with the Drake along, it will fill that role for us. Remember, the tipping ship doesn't always have to be the usual, usual. In fact, this set-up will get you more good fights than bringing along a Falcon or Curse will anyway. If you happen to be in Null space a good tipping ship is the Sabre, for example.
Speaking of Null space for a moment. In this series so far I've been talking about space as a generic all-encompassing entity. I'm going to continue doing that for awhile. While we are learning the basics, the type of space is less important than how you think.
So basic gang protocol. Send your Ranis pilot ahead of the main gang. Tackle is also going to serve as Scout until contact with potential targets is obtained. Your gang will be traveling in three pieces from system to system. The first piece is the Scout/Tackle, who will be staying one jump ahead of you. The second piece is the DPS, the Canes/Drake, which will travel together. The last piece is the Caracal, which you will have one (ish) jump behind you as a following Scout. Why? If you do get into a fight, the Caracal should be the last ship on the field. So, in the meantime, he should be watching your flank. Enemies come from behind just as often as they come from in front. And if someone is following you, it would be nice to know about it.
Each pilot in this small gang needs to understand their role and what is expected of them. The Scout will be reporting conditions in the system he jumps into, based on that information the DPS will be deciding the course of action they will be following. Small gang movement is a constantly evolving and fluid organism, the smarter each piece is, the more likely you will achieve Op Success. And bring everyone home alive.
The Ranis pilot reports one potential target in system. The D-Scan reveals nothing from the Gate and the Scout warps off to a point further towards the center of the system. In warp he detects a Cane. At this point we can assume several things, the Cane is in a belt ratting, the Cane is on a Station, the Cane is running a Plex/Mission, or the Cane is in a POS. But he is alone in system, so potentially he could also be bait. A good Scout would already have linked the pilot's name in fleet chat. Why? The targets Show Info can tell you a lot about him, how old is he? What Corp/Alliance does he belong to? Is he negative or positive standing? Is he in a NPC Corp? All of these factors add up to Intelligence about your enemy, and even while your Scout is still in warp, you are learning things about him.
This guy is about seven month old and in a three person Corp. He is also, believe it or not, actually ratting in a belt. Your DPS is at zero on the other side of the Gate, you already told your Caracal pilot to get on the Gate. The Ranis is now Tackle and already in warp to the belt. Sure enough, he lands, gets point and starts holding. The DPS jumps and warps to the Tackle at their point range. The Ranis pilot is already screaming about entering structure when the boys land and start hammering the Cane. The Ranis warps off if he can. The Caracal pilot notices that local has spiked by two. As the enemy Cane explodes, a Tempest and a Curse land amid your gang...
Eve is cool huh? You might think the arrival of his buddies is bad news, but it isn't. In that case you'd still win the fight. You might lose one of the Canes and maybe the Caracal, but you could take the Tempest and the Curse. How? Well you are smart remember? The poor Cane ratting alone was dead the moment the Ranis got point on him, as a smart FC you knew this. So while you were killing him you already had your gang aligning to the Sun. Smart man. So now your options are run away or stand and fight. The Curse/Pest won't get point fast enough, so you could run. But you shouldn't because the enemy made a huge mistake that plays right into your hands. They landed right on top of you when they warped in to save their buddy. Already the Pest is at a disadvantage, because he is well inside his damage bubble with those big guns. The Curse is tough, but fortunately you have three non-Amarr DPS ships with you. Get points on both ships, primary the Curse and then torture the poor Pest until he explodes. If the Ranis can come back, have him focus on killing their drones. (If he was smart and has a Web fitted.)
That is probably the most straight-forward scenario of small gang fighting that you could ask for in Eve. It is always pretty rare. Things are rarely that simple. There are usually multiple people around, ships behind you, ships coming and going, and the Cane was more than likely a Tengu running a mission. And you didn't bring a Prober, did you?
In the next post we will learn more about getting good fights, baiting, probing, and staying away from blobs. We'll also start adding more complications, and eventually get to the point where our small gang can kill enemy fleets that actually out-number ours. Cool huh?
Any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.