As I think I've mentioned once before, my alliance-mate Apathetic Brent runs a live video stream through the own3d.tv service. He uses this stream to broadcast himself PvP'ing in EVE, usually solo but from time to time in small gang scenarios. Since I was involved in one of those recently and since there's video of it, I thought it'd be interesting to write a little battle report from my perspective. This BR is geared more toward people who might be inexperienced at EVE PvP and so is written with that in mind.
The video I'll be talking about is here:
Rote Kapelle has returned to our home system of TXW-EI in Syndicate. One of our favorite groups in this region is Clockwork Pineapple (GROON). In terms of fleet sizes and the casual way in which we both play, they're a pretty good match for us. Sometimes they beat us, lots of times we beat them. But we have a pretty relaxed relationship all in all. They're definitely not blue; they're neutral to us. If we see them in space, a fight will probably happen. But from time to time if one or the other of us has something too big to handle, we'll form up on the other's op and combine our strengths.
From time to time, GROON and ourselves enjoy arranged equal size, equal comp, no-podding-allowed fights which we'll set up in some mutually agreed-upon system. It's just a fun little brawl. Most of the time, we use T1 BCs but in this case the fight was going to be all T1 cruisers, twelve per side. As I know I've mentioned, we recently picked up a CVA FC in Rote Kapelle and partially in a sardonic attempt to make him feel at home, we went with an all-Amarr comp for our cruisers: eight Omens, two Augurors, one Arbitrator, one Maller. I was in one of the Omens; the fit will be FOTW tomorrow. The fight was to take place in 5-75MB, a dead-end system close to where we were staging for the last week of our anti-I-RED deployment.
On the way there, while in conversation with conversation with GROON, we learned about an I-RED T1 cruiser fleet apparently chasing the GROON fleet. As our I-RED campaign was still in full swing, as I noted on comms, "All other priorities are rescinded, I-RED is the new target." And so we set up a very simple assassination: GROON would run away from them, dragging the I-RED fleet into us, we'd engage them, and then GROON would turn around and provide additional DPS. Many I-RED ships would be exploded. GROON reported that the I-RED fleet was equivalent to ours, except with a weight of Mallers instead of Omens.
Once we had them on scan, we determined the I-RED comp was five Mallers, an Omen, three Augurors, an Exequeror, an Ares, and an Eris... exactly the same size as our fleet but much more defensively minded. In the video, the first six or seven minutes is us setting up for the pre-arranged brawl with GROON. We warp to the VV gate in 57- at about the eleven minute mark, jump into VV, and engage the I-RED fleet at about 12 minutes. There's not much to see (except the proof of my story) until then, so you can jump straight to the 12 minute mark.
The initial deployment looked like this:
Purple is us, orange is them. Initially, our number of ships was equal. We jumped into VV-VCR to find their DPS ships at 0 meters from the gate with drones deployed. Their four logi were about 35-40km off, guarded by the Ares. Enemy drones were almost entirely e-war drones. Our drones were all damage drones, most of them mediums. Our plan was to engage, close the circle, allow them to get comfortable with their reps, then call GROON in from the other side to provide the DPS we needed to break their weight in logistics.
As a result, the only tactics involved were coordinating primaries between our fleet and the GROON fleet. We engaged, I-RED engaged. They decided (correctly) that our DPS would not break their reps, then they tried to use their DPS to break our two Augurors with partial success. Once they were fully engaged, GROON came in starting a clock for us to get as many I-RED kills as we could as quickly as possible. That turned out to be seven: all five of their Mallers, their Omen, and one of their Augurors. The Eris and Ares did not engage and the other logistics cruisers did a good job of holding range away from our brawlers. Our sides's losses was one GROON Blackbird.
This is a pretty typical "bait fleet" engagement that can be applied in a variety of scenarios. Show the enemy one fleet with a small number of logistics ships, then once the enemy fleet is fully engaged, call in your remaining DPS ships either from off-grid or preferably from the system next door. At some point fairly quickly, the enemy FC is going to decide the engagement is going against him and try to break it off, either by jumping through a nearby gate after waiting out a 60 second timer, or by having those ships that can warp off do so.
In this situation, it's your responsibility to tackle as many enemy ships as you can. It's very important to call out what you have scrams or points on so that other members of your fleet can tackle different targets. Often, the highest ISK value ship will be tackled first, followed by ships of progressively smaller values until everything that can be tackled, is tackled.
In the video, you can see the first fight play out from about 12:00 to about 15:30. As you can see, we primary their highest DPS ship first (Omen) and it takes us about a minute to break him through I-RED reps as we wait for GROON DPS to be applied. After that, we go through the five Mallers in about two minutes total. Then it's a matter of trying to tackle the I-RED logistics ships and we successfully catch one of them; the others remain safely at 45km or so, burning away from their dying fleet or warping off. The entire fight takes place right on the 57- gate in VV-; there's very little tactical maneuvering involved, except to apply webs, points, and scrams.
GROON then had to replace their Blackbird so very little happens in the video until about 30 minutes in, so you can fast-forward to that point where the arranged brawl was to take place. Again, there were twelve T1 cruisers per side. Our comp remained eight Omens, Maller, Arbitrator, two Augurors. The GROON comp was quite a bit more eccentric: three Thorax, two Caracal, two Rupture, Moa, Bellicose, Blackbird, Celestis, Scythe, all shield fit. As I mentioned last week, shield Thoraxes are scary so those would be our obvious primaries.
This time, the deployment looked like this:
Again, purple is us, orange is them. All ships began the fight with drones deployed, and for the most part all drones on both sides were damage drones. Seven of their DPS ships were in a clump at the center of the fight. One of their Caracals and their Bellicose were about 20km off. Their Scythe was about 45km off, and their two e-war ships were about 100km off. For us, all of our Omens and our Maller warped in at zero. Our Arbitrator and two Augurors warped in about 30km off.
Logically, against Thoraxes and missile ships, our smart tactic was to skirmish off them and cut down their DPS with Scorch before committing to the fight. However, we had previously agreed to a close-range brawl, so a close range brawl it would be. Therefore, we had to get those Thoraxes down as quickly as possible which meant firing on the primary called by the FC was a must. Even before the fight began, our FC decided the order in which the Thoraxes would die and called it out.
For GROON's part, they made a choice to systematically go after our known FCs in fleet. Our three losses were all FCs, including the first two FCs that were calling targets. But unfortunately for GROON, there were at least three additional potential FCs in fleet. This is where having a deep bench becomes very important: your fleet doesn't fall apart just because you lose an FC, and someone jumps in and seamlessly takes over. Each time our FC was killed, the killed FC called it out: "Someone's going to have to take over, I'm dying" or "Someone take over, I'm jammed." And each time, someone did. I ended up being the third FC, survived, and I target-called most of the engagement.
For an FC, it's important to know what targets to call and that's where learning all the ships and all their capabilities becomes important. I knew how dangerous Caracals were from reading up on them and playing with the fittings on EFT. I similarly knew that Ruptures (previously the most dangerous T1 cruiser) could be left until the Caracals were down unless one offered itself up for multiple webs, which one did. So I shifted my target calling to call one Rupture before moving back to the other Caracal.
However, GROON's choice of targets was also probably smart given the situation: they had to use those 600 DPS Thoraxes and 500 DPS Caracals to drop our DPS as quickly as possible. That meant going after Omens, which is what they did. As they did that and we finished off their high DPS ships, we shifted to whatever we could catch as the remaining much faster shield ships tried to maneuver away from us. In the end, we killed nine: all three Thoraxes, both Caracals, both Ruptures, the Bellicose, and the Moa. The Blackbird and Celestis were never in danger (the Celestis, in fact, was never a factor in the fight...) and their Scythe warped off safely.
You can see this play out on the video from about 31:00 to about 34:00. At 34:30, our DPS drops dramatically. Why? We're in Omens, that don't have a lot of combat endurance. Firing lasers, using scrams and webs, and running MWD occasionally will quickly strip an Omen's capacitor. A couple of us (including myself) remembered to call on the Augurors for cap, and got it. And it was that cap that we could use to finish the engagement. But that's why the Bellicose survives so long: hardly any of our Omens had cap at that point and we were relying heavily on drone DPS. It's something to keep in mind for your own fleets: how much endurance do you have?
Something else we did really well in both engagements was keeping a multitude of targets tackled throughout the fight. Again, the more stuff you have tackled, the more stuff you can kill. It made my job as an FC a lot easier if I could call stuff I was tackling as primary, and then once someone else called a point on something, call that secondary. As a result, I was able to keep up a steady report to the fleet of what was primary and what was secondary all through the engagement. The fight wraps up at the 36:00 mark, at which point you see us type "gf" in local: good fight, GROON!
It never hurts to be polite: thank the other guy for giving you some content.
Arranged brawls are a terrific way to get fights which I highly recommend. Talk to your neighbors, see what they're up for, arrange the ship classes allowed and not allowed ("no ECM"), fleet sizes, any rules you want ("no podding"), and you're all set. Both sides get kills, both sides are guaranteed a fight, both sides have a great time. Again, I highly recommend them.
And that's it. Two pretty straight-forward T1 cruiser brawls, but hopefully this over-long battle report will be useful to a lot of you budding PvPers out there. Any questions from those of you for whom this description fits?
Thanks to Apathetic Brent for the video and if you have an interest in his stream, it's linked at the top. There's also a variety of other videos of fights he's saved copies of for your interest.