Here's a pro-tip: if you declare the blogger to be your fleet's primary target, make sure he's aggressed first. The FC on the other side of this battle didn't follow that rule:
I don't often publish battle reports on this blog, but this one is extremely instructive, so I will describe how this fight went down and how I survived it despite being called primary three times.
Anyone who knows Rote knows that we're most active in the USTZ, specifically from about 0130 EVE time onward. Sure, there are excellent EUTZ fleets available as well, but these are more lightly-attended, and are often heavy on pilots from our companion alliance Veto. Even at 0130, Rote's presence is pretty light. The mass Rote log in usually happens around 0230 or later... just like me. It's one of the many reasons this alliance is turning out to be a perfect fit for me.
On this particular night, we were forming up for our roam that night ("everyone get into a gank BC; no logi") when we got fragmentary intel about a "frigate fleet" moving into our area. Not yet formed up or optimized, we were ordered to un-dock and head for the 5-FGQI gate in TXW-EI. There, sure enough, we encountered a gang primarily made up of T2 frigs and we murdered them thanks to their already being aggressed on (attacking) one of our BCs and some smart tackling and bubble placement.
Having your ship aggressed on a gate -- actively attacking an adversary -- means that you cannot use that gate. Once you take an aggressive action, star gates will reject your attempt to go through them for 60 seconds. Keep this in mind. It will become important later. ;-)
No doubt, the FC on the other side of that engagement wondered to himself how the hell we formed up so fast. The answer: we didn't. We were already in the middle of forming up for our own activities and this fleet just happened to walk into that. We scooped loot and returned to station to store it, then continued forming up for our own roam, which departed a few minutes later, headed through the north Syndicate loop.
Not long after our departure, still en-route through northern Syndicate, our scout again reported frigates. At first, we wondered if what we had encountered were the remnants of the previous gang. But no, these turned out to be Agony Unleashed frigs. Our scout then reported, with some surprise in his voice, that the Agony frigs appeared to either be escorting or themselves attacking a small to mid-sized cruiser and battle-cruiser gang. The total enemy gang size ended up being about 24, half-again larger than what we were fielding.
We encountered them on the X-M2LR gate in K5-JRD system and our FC, undaunted by the odds, ordered us to work, calling our first primary.
Now, from time to time, I notice that people who recognize me either for my blog or my CSM run last year like to call me as their primary target. ;-) For the record, I never take offense at this. It's just part of the game.(1) The entire enemy fleet was surrounded by yellow boxes, then red boxes. Then I noticed drones start to surround me.
There was only one problem: I was in a slow-locking Hurricane, still locking our fleet's primary target. I hadn't started shooting yet. I was therefore not yet aggressed, and sitting at close range to a star gate.
It's critical in this situation not to panic. And it's savvy in this situation to do exactly what I did now: I didn't shoot back, and I didn't jump. I sat there, hardeners overheated, orbiting the gate at my Hurricane's nominal speed, letting them shoot at me. They lost a Thorax, then a Vexor, then a Hurricane as our FC calmly called targets. In a break in the action, I said, "Break, Ripard's their target, not aggressed, will be getting out." The FC replied, "Roger" and called the next primary. At about 7% shields, I jumped out.
Since I never aggressed, the enemy gang never had a chance of killing me. They spent almost a minute shooting at a non-aggressed target, wasting their time and the lives of three of their ships on an enemy ship that they had no hope of killing.
I expected there to be more ships in X-M, and sure enough, there were: the Agony frigates, killing one of our tacklers as I gained visibility to the grid. I expected to be primaried again when I decloaked, and sure enough, I was. I waited about 25 seconds, then burned on overheated MWD between the gate and a celestial roughly in line with the gate. My plan: if they aggressed me, I'd jump back into the K5 fight. If they didn't, I'd warp to the celestial. They aggressed me. In that time, my shields had recharged to about 15%, and the Agony frigs were good enough to reduce it back below 5%. I jumped back into K5. In that time, our fleet killed two Brutixes, a Thrasher, and a Myrmidon, this time with the loss of one of our Canes.
I again waited for a bit of shield recharge while looking over the fight and planning my next move. Shields were at 10%. This time, the celestial in line with the gate was the K5 station. I decided this time that I'd again burn between the gate and the station celestial. Only this time, if I were aggressed but not pointed, I'd warp to the station to get my shields back to 100%, then warp back to the fight fully repaired.(2) If I weren't aggressed, I'd burn out and start getting in on some kills. I decloaked and burned (again on overheated MWD), and sure enough, parts of the enemy fleet started to aggress me, probably correctly guessing that I was operating with only 10% shields. Only, critically, nobody pointed me. Sticking to my plan, I warped off. Again, the enemy fleet wasted time and resources on a non-aggressed ship.
I docked, then immediately un-docked (now with 100% shields), warped back to the fight and was happily able to get in on the last several kills.
Now granted, I missed out on a ton of kills in this fight. Should I have aggressed immediately in K5, despite being the enemy fleet's primary? Should I have aggressed immediately when I came back into K5? Scholars will no doubt argue the points. Looking over my own performance in retrospect, I believe I made the correct moves at every step, and placed in the same situation, I'd make those same moves again. Though my DPS was not available to the FC for most of the fight, I operated as a meat shield, tanking damage that would have otherwise got someone else killed and ensuring that our efficiency in that fight was not reduced by the loss of my ship. Sure, it would have been extremely satisfying to get on those first three kills, but ensuring that my side won the ISK war was -- to me -- equally satisfying.
Anyway, just something for you newer PvP pilots to think about. Sometimes, you have to leave your own ego at the door.
(1) Of course, if you want to call someone else primary, I won't mind that, either. ;-)
(2) Is this a good time to mention that I love the new 20 second session change timer? The ability to repair mid-fight is also something I'm having to relearn after more than a year in sovereignty battles where this option is usually not available.