When using modules, it's always very tempting to hit F1-F2-F3-F4 (or the like) as quickly as your fingers can carry you across the keys.
And this is almost always the wrong thing to do.
As a simple example, let's start with being a logistics pilot with four repair modules. The cycle time on large remote repair modules is between 3.2 and 5.0 seconds, depending on the exact mods, skills, boosters, and fleet boosts. If you commit all four of your reppers to a friendly all at once, you're committing to two things:
- that there will be gaps of between 3.2 and 5.0 seconds when your rep target receives no reps at all; and,
- that there will be a gap of between 3.2 and 5.0 seconds if you need to shut down and redirect one of your reppers to a new target.
Counter-cycling is even more important when it comes to jammers with their long cycle times. Most jammers have a cycle time of 20 seconds. If you have four jammers, and you throw all four of them at a target and -- totally by chance -- all four of them fail, you will have a 20 second wait before you can try again. It will seem like an eternity. Even worse, if a new target comes on field that you want to attempt to jam, your first attempt will also have to wait 20 seconds. The alternative is to limit yourself to using one jammer every five seconds; this will reduce the amount of time you have to wait between jamming attempts. Jamming this way is also optimal because if you get a successful jam, after the target becomes unjammed, chances are that it will take five seconds for that ship to lock up its first targets... right when you have a new jammer available to try.
Counter-cycling isn't just for reppers and jammers, by the way. Just about every module can at least somewhat benefit from counter-cycling. Take guns, for instance. In PvP situations, if you counter-cycle your guns, you'll always have a gun available quickly to KM whore on a new target...
The drawback to counter-cycling is of course that it takes patience and willpower... something that EVE players sometimes have in short supply. ;-) The urge to get those mods cycling as quickly as possible can be overwhelming. For any mod you have more than one of, it's almost always the wrong thing to do.
Occasionally on Sundays, I will be defining a common EVE term for those who might not have heard it. If you have a suggestion for such a term, please drop it into the comments.