Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Thursday, April 10, 2014

A tale of two battles

I'm not usually much into EVE battle reports on this blog. That said, two fights I was in this past week really illustrate some of the points I made in my blog post back in February about EVE small gang, where "small gang" here is defined as "between 5 and 25 ships". It's still dying in null-sec... and sometimes it requires heroic efforts to make the soon-to-be-corpse stand up and take a few steps.

The first fight is this one, which took place on Sunday:

The eve-kill battle report is badly scrambled, so use the Rote Kapelle one. I provide the eve-kill one to clarify a few details. This fight started with a GeoCorp/Rote Kapelle armor HAC gang roaming through Provi. The core fleet was about 18 or so: four Guardians plus about a dozen mixed armor HACs plus a small number of tacklers. Moving through space, we got intel on a slightly bigger NCdot gang: also four Guardians plus about 16 armor HACs plus a small number of tacklers, about 24 total.

They were bigger than us... not much, but enough to move cautiously. They were better comped than us, with a solid core of well-tanked Sacrileges supported by Arazus and Lokis... also worrisome. But instead of fighting us, they ran away from us, deeper and deeper into a dead-end pocket and we obliged them until they were at the ass end of a dead-end constellation in which they couldn't dock. And there, they camped the in-gate to the constellation against us, launched drones, and set up at their optimal ranges.

We got on our intel channel and asked a little help, and a little help is exactly what we got: five or six Ishtars with a few more tacklers and no logi. The NCdot fleet jumped a scout into us and refused to fight as long as they were "outnumbered." Meanwhile, we weren't real excited about jumping into them since the bulk of their fleet was FinFleet who are known as a ridiculously strong capital ship alliance. It was virtually assured they had a triage carrier or two on stand-by.

And so the fight wouldn't have happened at all, except Rote Kapelle member Ben Booley volunteered to sacrifice a triage carrier of our own to get us the fight (docking his Guardian in the process). We moved in a cyno, he insured the ship, we jumped in, aggressed, started losing ships, and lit the cyno. Needless to say, NCdot did as well, bringing in their triage carrier. And so the fight was pretty even with both sides killing each other's tackle ships and Guardians. In addition to Guardians and cheap stuff, we knocked down a pair of Arazus. They knocked down a pair of Deimoses.

Thanks to smart target-calling and target-switching, we then managed to break a couple of NCdot Sacs. At that point apparently deciding we weren't going to bring in any more capitals to go after their triage carrier, NCdot brought in seven additional carriers and three dreads to break ours. Needless to say, we had exactly zero interest in escalating against NCdot, so we left the carrier to die, deaggressed, and left the system.

It was a fun fight, but:
  1. it's somewhat aggravating that one of our members essentially had to pay a billion ISK to get us the fight; and,
  2. it's clear that the fight never would have happened without his willingness to do so.
This is where small-gang is: people so worried about losing a few HACs that it's worth bringing in 30 billion ISK in capital ships to ensure that you don't.

On the flip-side is another "fight" we had last night. No eve-kill link for this one because no kill-mails were generated.

This time, we were roaming Curse during USTZ in a small flight of four or five light missile Heretics, plus a Sabre for bubbles and myself in a Hyena. Our scout jumps into a system to find a Dirt Nap Squad Ferox off-gate. He tackles the ship, we go in, I web down the Ferox and we start applying DPS. Two more DNS appear, a Talwar and an Enyo. Then the system fills up with another ten DNS in a variety of small and medium DPS and tackle ships. They arrive on grid very quickly.

We reduce the Ferox and the Talwar to armor, the DNS tacklers fail to lock any of us down, and -- now outnumbered two to one -- we disengage and warp off.

It's a situation where if DNS had been willing to sacrifice the Ferox, they could have trickled their tacklers in a few at a time, the tacklers would have caught three or four of our fleet including my Hyena, the Sabre, and a Heretic or two, then they could have called in their DPS. But unwilling to sacrifice the Ferox, they swarmed the system, didn't get any tackles, and didn't get a single kill.

And ironically, had the Ferox died, both sides would have declared it a good fight: we would have gotten a Ferox kill and maybe one or two of their tacklers. They would have killed at least 120 million ISK in T2 ships. Sure, we could have stuck around as well. But... yeah. The Ferox kill would have been worth losing a few ships... but not our entire fleet.

Anyway, just the kind of "fights" that I'm continuing to see in the 5-25 ship meta.


  1. Fixed version of the battle report: http://dog-net.org/brdoc/?brid=25172

  2. I see that Rote Kapelle is starting to work closer with CVA.

    I would be really interested in seeing an article about how it has been for Rote Kapelle to adjust to Providence.

  3. Honestly I think your bad small gang experiences are your own fault, if you've got hacs and tech 2 logi you've just pushed yourselves out of the engagement envelope for most roaming fleets.

    If you're known to have triage on standby, congratulations now even similar comps will be hesitant to engage if they can't reciprocate.

    As for the second fight, I'd say the DNS guys made the right call lml heritics murder tackle a lot like talwars do, trickling the tackle in would have been a slaughter.

    1. Pretty much this. The keys to getting awesome small gang action are A: Being willing to fight outnumbered/outclassed at times, B: flying smarter than your opponent and C: being willing to risk losing to go all in and maybe pull out a win.

    2. I fail to see how it's our fault that NCdot, flying a bigger hac fleet, with t2 logi refused to fight without us having to jump into their significantly superior position. When we're in a similarly comped fleet that's a bit smaller, it's somewhat strange to say that our fleet comp keeps them from fighting us.

    3. Funky is used to fighting in FW LowSec Ben, where AHAC comps like this are relatively rare. Although his reasoning is still flawed considering that NC Dot didn't engage for whatever reason even though they had a stronger comp at the beginning.

      You shouldn't expect a High-Skill Alliance like Rote to roam around in cheap T1 Cruisers like you and I do every day.

      Not to mention that they really DID go all in. They dropped a Triage so they would be able to engage, knowing that against an extremely large Null-Sec Alliance with massive projection capabilities would instantly do the same thing. Do you expect them to remain on field when they are outnumbered by Six Carriers and Three Dreads. Or worse escalate even farther with freaking NCDOT! That'd be like you or me dropping a Triage Carrier on Snuffbox for crying out loud.

    4. People don't 'expect' Rote to do anything BUT roam in heavily logi supported T2 gangs with caps on standby. And we also don't 'expect' Rote to take a fight where they're not at least on even numbers. Quite the opposite, its EXACTLY what we expect from Rote.

      We DO expect them to not cry like babies when people don't want to fight them. That's Funky's actual point. Funky chooses to fight in low sec where those things aren't common, b/c its more fun, not b/c he's ignorant of the superiority of 0.0.

      Being risk averse is the way 95% of people play the game. Its understandable in a game with consequences and potential for highly asymmetric fights (ganks, hotdrops, etc). Whining about why others are just as risk averse and won't fight you is not understandable, its hypocritical.

      While you're right to suggest that small gang is dieing, Ripard, you're absolutely wrong to say you're not part of the cause of it dieing.

  4. The problem is cynos.

    They're a bad combat mechanic in a game where territory and distance are supposed to matter.

    1. This. Spatial and temporal strategies should matter but cynos nullify this aspect of the game. They are too cheap to use in terms of enormous tactical gain for virtually zero tactical cost.

    2. /signed

      Cynos should have spoolup time like MJDs have. That way the "about-to-be-hotdropped" gang could either kill the cyno ship (spoolup should have a nice visual) or get out. Or the Droppers could drop of grid,

  5. Ripard,

    I was in the DNS fleet. Mistakes were made.

    1. I did *not* expect that post, and I salute you for making it. Sometimes people just mess up and that's life.

  6. Jester, what about those anti-cyno deployables? I thought the whole idea of those was to prevent escalation by caps. Alekseyev Karrde recently commented that these are not yet common enough, that some pilots get surprised when they are deployed.

    1. 1) they cost 40m (not that big a deal)
      2) They can't be deployed within 40k of a gate. In a fight like this, in order to use one we'd have to either bring an alt dedicated to dropping them or have one of our hacs fly way out of the engagement to use it. All of the deployables don't get anywhere near the amount of use they should because they aren't allowed to be used near the most common places for fights to happen.

    2. Pretty much Ben's #2 answer. As currently designed, you can't use them where and when you need them.

      As usual, Aleks doesn't know what he is talking about. When the anti-cynos were first released, a lot of them were built and tested, but proved to be as generally useful as TSB's.

  7. lol... small gang PVP... with a triage carrier. Four Guardians. And running away from a battle when outnumbered only 2 to 1. So sad that it is pathetic.

    No wonder the CSM accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of fixing the game for solo and small gang PVP.

    Jester, why don't you put one of your alts in a low-sec corp and learn what small gang, and solo, PVP is really all about? (I'll give you a hint - it is not about going back to your home station in your ship - that's why you bought that gold pod, boy... lol).

    1. Because I like null-sec. Gate gun mechanics and acceleration gate dickery just annoys me and bores me.

      And yeah, small gang includes triage carriers now. Literally everyone uses them for all the things.

    2. Jester, if that's really your opinion, then I'm going to have to echo Anon 9:31 in that you don't seem to understand what small gang warfare is anymore (hint: if you're bringing in caps, you are not "small gang").

    3. That's your definition of small gang. That's fine, but other people have different definitions. My definition of small gang is anything under about 25 people. Doesn't matter if that's a gang of copcars or a gang of battleships supported by triage. In my opinion, triage hugely support small gang because you can put 1-2 people into your triage and be able to upengage pretty heavily rather than needing to put anywhere from 4-6 people in guardians to take the same kind of upengagement. That means the same number of people can have more combat/utility ships, and be able to fight bigger gangs.

    4. Sorry, Ben - but, your definition is wrong.

      Small gang PVP is not really based on a number of players - 5, 20, 50, etc. - but the ship composition and play style.

      If your composition is going to result a fight, without escalation, where one group goes home in pods, then you are engaging in small gang PVP, even if there are 100 players in the melee.

      If the composition encourages escalation to caps and super caps, or everyone runs home, afraid to lose their ships, then you are engaging in null sec PVP, even if you have only 10 players facing off at the start.

    5. @Jester - "And yeah, small gang includes triage carriers now. Literally everyone uses them for all the things."

      Uh, no. You are proving here that you are just another null sec only player.

      Which is fine, but then please don't write any more articles about ship fittings for low sec or high sec PVP, about which you obviously know very little first-hand.

    6. @Jester
      "And yeah, small gang includes triage carriers now. Literally everyone uses them for all the things."

      Clearly you misunderstand the meaning of the word "literally," because it seems pretty obvious that not every single small gang it out there using triage carriers.

  8. Perhaps Ncdot doesn't want small fights, but rather capital killmails? If that is a priority, their actions were "rational".

    I don't have any "solution" for you, this does sound a bit frustrating. The real acction this week was in Aldrat ;)

  9. I think it was Azual Skoll who taught me that, if you're have a high kd ratio, it's probably because you're not taking enough risks and pushing the envelope of what's possible. EVE's players are overly cautious and aggressive risk-takers can often have a lot more success just by trying to take fights they're not sure they'll win.

    Maybe we just need more guys like him and for guys like him not leaving the game -_-

  10. Good to see CSM membership hasn´t taken its toll on your skill of "making shit up", its after all what EVE (meta)game revolves around.

  11. Hi Ripard!
    Oh yes, lets use your alliances killboard because eve-kill is so badly "scrambled", what an splendid idea!

    Here is how it went from NCdot (Finfleet, really since it was a corp roam) side. We were burning through Providence, poking around their stations trying to catch some ratters in stations while waiting for their unevitable CVA defense fleet to form for us. We moved through station systems in ZQ2-CF constellation and on our way back our rear scout reports you guys on other side of the gate to us, which was first time we became aware of your presence, so dont give you too much credit of us running from you. Report was 50 dudes in local, when there previously was just a couple docked.

    Since you had twice our numbers and we were basically in slow moving ahacs (and we didnt know if the other side was cynojammed or not) we decided you could do us the courtesy and jump into us. So we sat there for 10 minutes on other sides of the gate, at this time small ceptor fleet from MV had started to burn towards us. Finally you decide you can actually try and fight 11 sacrileges with 50 dudes and jumped into us. We start brawling, you immediately jump in 2 triage archons(funny how you say you have no interest in escalating agaisnt NCdot and infact did it first), we continue brawling since our Guardians seem to be holding reps, but after a while ECM drones jam one of the guardians (you should get ECM drones fixed Ripard, and contribute one meaningfull thing in your term) and all our logistics go down.

    We jump in the one triage we had as backup for such eventuality and reps stabilize. We don´t lose much else except the inty fleet from MV. We reship the guys who died to dreads and carriers and jump them on your triage because we cant break reps from two triage carriers with (now) 9 Sacrileges. We fail tackling the second Archon (was he stabbed?) and you guys deaggress and run.

    GF! I´m not sure what all the hubbub is about.


    1. This tells me two things:

      1- Your shitty fleet discipline is shitty. (No rear scout in AHACS?? Who the fuck does this?) Seriously, if you get surprised by "Suddenly" 50 pilots you did it wrong. Do a little scouting work and figure that shit the fuck out. Obviously they were onto you for at least 10 minutes prior to you were onto them and this is just poor fleet management and fleet discipline.

      2- You had a fucking Devoter, how did you "fail to tackle" the 2nd Triage Archon if you have a HIC?

    2. Can't you read.. we did have a rear scout numb nuts hence the line "our rear scout reports you guys on other side of the gate to us"

      If it was poor fleet discipline we would would of jumped though the gate but we didn't as anybody who has ever flown brawling armour hac will tell you it is suicide.

      Also we wanted to find fight hence why we went to provi and only had a small gang.

      Don't you find it ironic that it is riptard who is complaining about that small fleet gangs are dying in null sec when it was his group who decided that they needed 2 - 1 before engaging and it was his grouped who dropped 2 triage carriers within seconds of the fight starting.

      We only called our backup triage when their ECM drones started to jam our massive logi fleet.. all 4 of them and the rep chain broke and they all died.

    3. @ Ghost Rider -

      "Here is how it went from NCdot (Finfleet, really since it was a corp roam) side. We were burning through Providence, poking around their stations trying to catch some ratters in stations while waiting for their unevitable CVA defense fleet to form for us. We moved through station systems in ZQ2-CF constellation and on our way back our rear scout reports you guys on other side of the gate to us, which was first time we became aware of your presence, so dont give you too much credit of us running from you. Report was 50 dudes in local, when there previously was just a couple docked."

      "We were burning through Providence, poking around their stations trying to catch some ratters in stations while waiting for their unevitable CVA defense fleet to form for us. We moved through station systems in ZQ2-CF constellation and on our way back our rear scout reports you guys on other side of the gate to us, which was first time we became aware of your presence, so dont give you too much credit of us running from you."

      "We moved through station systems in ZQ2-CF constellation and on our way back our rear scout reports you guys on other side of the gate to us, which was first time we became aware of your presence, so dont give you too much credit of us running from you."

      "which was first time we became aware of your presence, so dont give you too much credit of us running from you."

      "first time we became aware of your presence"

      Shitty rear scouts are shitty

    4. Shitty read skills are shitty

  12. Lol.. I expect this poor quality spin on TMC.

    I was one of the sac pilots flying for Finfleet and like Lake said, we were out numbered 2 - 1.

    Just for the record as it appears you do not know much about ships, sacs are brawling ships so it isn't really good idea to jump though a gate when you know there are twice your number sitting at range waiting for you.

    Our apologise that not wanting to give you nice easy kills, shame on us.

    Also it was you guys who dropped the 2 triage first, it wasn't until we lost our grand total of 4 logi, thats right.. 4, that we cyno'ed in our sole backup triage carrier.

    Shit posting at its finest by Riptard.

  13. First corp name I've heard of in Eve, and I'm a pod pilot since 2005, was FinFleet. So while reading the article I thought to myself, wtf is with Fins - running from a fight, escalating a small gang pvp with capitals.. Was really bummed until these two comments from LakeEnd and Ghost Rider. Thank you guys for telling how it was.

  14. Sonds very exciting. Both the report and the comments below.

    I wonder why people doesn't lines up to try this fun game.

  15. A comment about this: being a (very junior) part of RvB command, I have seen my share of people arguing how a fight went down, who upshipped who etc. Often the stories don't reconcile, IE it sounds like someone is lying.

    After a while, I realized that it isn't people intentionally lying. In an Eve fight, a lot of shit is going on. There is too much information for your brain to fully process and other facts are hidden. So your mind makes up a story about what is happening (filling in the blanks, making assumptions, shortcuts) and you react to this story.

    So two sides having a different story for the same fight? Par for the course.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. You'd think more people would consider this before leaping straight for the GRR PROPAGANDA/SHIT POASTING drama.

    3. Shortly before I joined Of Sound Mind, back when they were still in Providence, there was a fight that they had where the other side claimed SOUND blobbed them with Falcons. I was told from the SOUND side that there had been 0 Falcons in the fleet. "Ghost Falcons" winning fights became a running joke for the next ... at least a month. In all likelihood, it was someone's flight of EC-300s jamming something critical, and your post explains why it got to that point.

    4. Lol.. my reply hit a little to close to home did it:)

      I will repeat it again, In this case it is Jester who is lying. He just doesn't like the fact that he has been called out on it.

    5. Lying requires the intention to deceive.

      Hanlon's razor my friend... http://hspew.blogspot.ca/2014/04/what-happened-during-fight-multiple.html

  16. nice read. just a small correction: "five or six Ishtars with a few more tacklers and no logi." the Rennfeuer gang had a Scythe with them ;)

  17. Do you ever think that EVE ends up being an unending struggle against loss aversion? Both these fights have it: instead of going toe-to-toe with RC for an evening of fun, Fin barricades themselves into a dead end system and hands initiative to RC. In the second, loss aversion prevents a Ferox sac that would have made for a better fight and better results.

    Maybe EVE needs to readjust making PVP "meaningful."

    1. This is one of the reasons I am in RvB... Last night was the last evening of our fith war with Eve Uni. I fought for four hours and lost 400 millions in ships, yet we considered it a total blast. People care *too* much about winning.

    2. This is the problem inherent in a system which makes the losses "real" - it makes people want to avoid those losses. EVE is caught between two diametrically opposed ideas: making losses have meaning, and encouraging people to engage in activities which risk loss. It requires a difficult balance, and lately it seems that the balance has failed.

  18. *Cough cough* Force projection *cough cough*

    Also its nice to make these conclusions but since you're leaving CSM in a few weeks it seems a bit too late imho.

  19. :small gangs have capitals:

    Just no.

    Small gangs avoid capitals so we don't get ridiculous escalation.

    You want small gang, don't fly t2 cruisers w/ t3 and t2 logi. We fly 6-20 man t1 cruiser/frigate gangs occasionally with t1 logi, rarely with a t3 booster. With no carrier backup. We get fights

  20. Oh man! I'm so glad someone is finally championing the sole reason I left EVE to play other games, the death of small fleets and short play sessions for PvP. I'm glad it's someone that is respected by the community, who has a popular blog so others can read his opinion. Now if only there were some way for players to elect him to some sort of organization that could then represent our views before CCP. Maybe then something could be done about it so I could come back and play the game.

    Oh wait.

    1. And just so it doesn't seem like I'm bitching in a vacuum here's my suggestion to fix the issue of cynos: Leave the calculation for fuel usage intact, but add a second calculation for travel time in the cyno. Make it so very long jumps take about 2 minutes to complete and the shortest of jumps are instantaneous. If they cyno dies while the ship is jumping, the jumping fleet gets spread in the local area (in systems)of the jump origin if it was before the first third of the travel time was completed, somewhere in between in the middle third, and somewhere around the landing area systems if it was in the last third.

      Make it so cynos are not throw-away, give the people who see a cyno lit a chance to fight or run if necessary. Done. My .02 isk.

  21. http://vserver.zap.de.com/custombr/show/189

    Here is a fixed battle report.

  22. Can i just say as the finfleet scout that was i @ the back of the gang . we def had a scout , i was it \o/ .

    The gang was 2 jumps of me, when i reported that we had a gang of around 50 assorted fleet, out guys burned back to the system waited for the CVA & Co to come in. we were outnumbered 2-1, the fc said if they jump in we will take the fight , we weren't jumping to the CVA & Co as it would of been suicide . the assorted CVA & Co fleet was a kinda rainbow fleet, we thought it was going to be fun.

    The fight started when CVA & Co jumped in, within seconds a cyno lit, the fc thought we had lit the cyno to call in triage, obviously it wasnt us it was CVA & Co throwing 2 triage carriers @ us, we carried on fighting , a decision was made to bring our triage as logis were dieing, @ this point mv jumped in being on a separate frig roam we had contacted as we knew they weren't far away. The fight started to get a little hairy, i died in my 1st dictor, it was called that we would drop dreads & carriers on CVA & Co . A cyno was lit we jumped in caps, i grabbed another dictor bubbled the 1st carrier, tackle was getting nuked @ this point as CVA & Co had decided to withdraw, i personally warped off in 18% struct on my 2nd dictor, a point was on both carriers till tackle was either dead or jammed, 1 CVA & Co archon got out whilst the 2nd 1 entered struct, we killed off the CVA & Co guys that were in range or warping back to the fight & landed right smack back on our tackle that was getting back into the fight ( i had to have reps as mentioned). we cleaned the field of what was left we departed,

    all in all i would say the original report above isn't maybe as true as it is being implied. if you really look @ the links u will see a few of us in more than 1 ship, it is a little skewed on how many we had & how many CVA & Co had.

    This was a good fight for all i think

  23. whelp what can I say. Once upon a time two fleets sat on opposite sides of the gate fairly equal in numbers (almost, we had them by about 5-8) they were not going to jump into us and if we jumped they were going to cross jump and deny us the fight. So the FC made the call jump in squad 1 (giving them the slight edge if they came through). they jumped as soon as first squad jumped. We caught them by the short hairs and slaughtered them. Oh and one other thing NC won't take even fights on a bet in provi. Nor will cfc. Everyone else yeah you can get good fights but if your going to fly in provi well you need to know how to play the game, its a bit different.

  24. so you have 4-5 heretics, perfect range control due to hyena, and you are concerned about 2 to 1 odds? Against 10 kitchen-sinked cruisers it is a complete massacre in your favor, and if it turns out to be something like multiple RLML caracals or arty ruptures, you maintain the option to leave (even then its fightable as you can still pop tackle while burning off considering you have a hyena)

    the last time I really was active in null was 6-8 months ago but things like caracals could consistently engage at 2-4 to 1 numerical odds and still put in a good showing, even when jumping into the enemy

    maybe the problem is not "small gang is dead," but consistently underestimating what fightable gangs are, and also bringing in ships such as t1/t2 logi that scare people but are often unnecessary at <10 gang size


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