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.
Part One: The Basics
Now that we've covered the basics of putting three or four ships together from a structure standpoint, it is time to learn the fundamental issues you'll face from a DPS standpoint. I must warn you up-front, I have never used EFT or any other fitting software. I fit my ships based on two things, 1) Real Combat Experience, and 2) The opinions of those I trust with Real Combat Experience. So when I talk about DPS, I might be talking about it in a way that you are not familiar with. Since it has absolutely nothing to do with Maths.
There are millions of variables involved with any three ships in Eve, variables that only get exponentially more complicated with each additional ship, so trying to keep track of the Maths involved is a fools errand. Any three ships involve not only the skill levels, implants, bonuses and personal skill of the players flying them, but also the ammo types, drones, ranges, distances, deployment of the enemy, transversal... ok, already my head is starting to hurt.
Gang Warfare is about having fun and making things explode, so let's get on with it. First thing first, in a small gang situation it is important that your ships are fit to their bonuses, in order to maximize their effectiveness, but also to give you some confidence sending them into battle. It does no good to send that Drake thru the Gate to bait when the idiot flying it has armor fit his Drake. That ship go boom. So for goodness sake, leave the tricky fits to solo or large fleet battles, and stick to the strength of the ship bonuses for small gang work. ( For example: The Drake gets a bonus to Kinetic damage, +5% per level. That is a significant damage bonus, so undock with kinetic missiles in the launchers!! Have others ready in the cargo, but load up on the bonus. Unlike Amarr, it takes time to switch, so always, always, always start with your strength.)
So first rule of Derp is: Fit to Bonuses.
The next most important small gang consideration is range. All damage is inflicted from within a certain range bubble. It is critical that the heart of your DPS is being delivered from the same range bubble. Let's say you have a tackle Frigate, 2 Canes and a Rupture in your gang. Once you undock and start forming up you find out one of the Canes is AC fit and the other is Arty fit. Not only that, but the Ruppie has Blasters! Sheesh, you're doomed dood. Fix that right away, get two AC or two Arty fit Canes at the very least. Then slap the guy that put blasters on his Ruppie, but bring him along for the lols. (Kidding, don't bring him, make him go put ACs or Arties on that thing. Or bring something else.)
Mixing damage ranges is not a good idea. Small gangs work best when they are coordinated, traveling together, aligning together, attacking together and generally delivering maximum damage from the same general location. (More on this in a future post in the series.)
So second rule of Derp is: Shoot from the same range (ish).
Every ship in Eve has a hole and your job is to fill that hole as fast as possible with Death. The faster you fill the hole the faster the enemy 'splodes. The cool part is there are really only TWO holes you need to worry about - Shield and Armor. So right away the complication is starting to level out. We can all handle two things to remember right? Of course we can.
The shield hole is EM. And the Armor hole is typically explosive. ( This varies tremendously, especially since most people tend to patch their natural resist hole. But we'll deal with that issue in a future post in the series.) In other words, I want to shoot bullets that do EM damage at ships that rely on Shields for defense. It is amazing just how fast their tank will melt when you are shooting the proper type of damage at them. And killing the enemy quickly is critical for your success, you are not a huge fleet, you are vulnerable small gang fighters!
Third rule of Derps: Fire the right damage type!
And really, that is all there is to it. The rest is all common sense, based on those three rules. Fit to the strength of your ship, fire from common distance and fire the right type of damage against the enemy. Everything else is a bonus, neuts, target painters, sensor boosters or dampeners, drones, and anything else that you can bring to bear on the enemy. The key is balance weighted heavily to your gang strengths.
So now that we have you formed up, undocked, and carrying the right type of weapons, next time we'll cover tactics involved in picking a fight and living to tell the tale.
Remember, Eve is a complicated game that involves endless variation. There are tons of exhaustive and horribly detailed guides available for further reading. Like this one on the various types of tanks and resistances. But there are plenty of other ones.
Part Three: Travel
Part Four: Track & Kill