Kill of the Week this week is me IRL. ;-) I've been struck down by a nasty flu bug and therefore wasn't feeling well enough to do proper research on this topic. Still, I heard about a good one: an 80 billion ISK Nightmare ganked in high-sec:
But I've covered high-sec ganks a couple of times, so I won't bother doing so again for a while. Just a couple of notes: this fit at least plays to the Nightmare's strengths. It's a fantastic glass cannon. And the presence of arty Apocs plus the lack of rats on the KM says that this gank group hit this Nightmare as he was undocking, while those super-expensive hardeners were OFF, rather than in a mission. The Apocs would have tanked the station guns fine until CONCORD arrived. Nightmares are notoriously thin-skinned with their hardeners off, and undock ganks are popular.
Instead, I'll talk about a kill that I was personally involved in, plus a kill that almost happened, because there's some interesting lessons to be learned from them. First, the story without interruption: I was on a gate in 0.0 teaching a fellow corp-mate about gate uncloaking (note to self: post guide on gate decloaking), which is the practice of catching cloaky ships -- primarily Recons -- after they jump into a new system. He and I were both in Taranises, a fantastic decloaker ship. Another corp-mate was in a Falcon playing practice target.
We practiced the technique a half-dozen times and my corp-mate was getting pretty good at it when the gate flashed beneath us and a neut appeared in Local. The regional intel channel had been very quiet, so I figured it was a gank-fit stealth bomber, which are quite common in Pure Blind.(1) "Here's your chance on a live target," I said to my corp-mate on comms. I figured if it was something we couldn't handle in our Ranises, our Falcon could jam it and we'd warp off.(2) A Thorax decloaks and my corp-mate executes a perfect tackle. I join him and we start nibbling away on this Thorax, but his armor is surprisingly strong. "Double-plated," I have time to think, which gets me suspicious, and sure enough, the gate flashes again and four more neuts appear in Local. Meanwhile, our Falcon reports the Thorax is jammed, but our other Ranis reports he's dying under the Thorax's drones.(3) "Warp off," we both instruct, and he tries to do so, but bumps off the gate and explodes there.(4)
A neutral Falcon decloaks, then a second Thorax, then a neutral Guardian. That tears it for me: where there's one Guardian, there's more.(5) "Clear off," I say on comms unnecessarily to my corp-mate in the Falcon. The first Thorax has me pointed, but that's not exactly a problem in my Ranis. I overheat my MWD for one cycle, spot a celestial just off my flight path, and align. Seven seconds later, I'm 50km off the gate as the second Guardian decloaks.(4) I warp off. "Ripard's off," I call on comms.(6)
45 seconds later, the five-man neut gang starts smacking us in Local, calling us a rude name for a part of the female anatomy. I point out that there were five of them and three of us and we were in light ships. They say no, there were five of us: Taranis x2, Falcon, Drake, Cane. I check comms, and sure enough, two corp-mates nearby in a Drake and a Cane tell me they warped to the gate.(6) The Cane warped in 30k off and was able to warp off successfully. The Drake had warped to me(7), which unfortunately put that ship about 12km off the gate, where the Thorax was. The other Thorax proved to be a blaster Thorax, because the combination of ships were able to knock the Drake to 24% shields.(8) Still, the Drake pilot stayed cool and did the exact right thing: flew to the nearby gate and jumped through without aggressing.(9)
1. I was teaching a class on a border gate to our space, which was dumb. I should have moved the class to a less-used gate.
2. I didn't account for the fact that the Falcon's jams would be useless against enemy drones. Still, drones are not often such a major factor in small-gang PvP, so this one's minor.
3. My corp-mate's Ranis didn't have a local rep. This is a perfect reason for tacklers to have a local rep. Had he had one, a few drones wouldn't have been able to kill him.
4. If you have to bug out, maintain situational awareness. Zoom into your ship and align out toward something on your flight path. That will keep you from bumping off structures or other ships while trying to warp off. Also, if you're in an inty, don't be afraid to open a lot of distance before you even try to warp off. You might not have to warp off; a hundred or 150km range might be just fine instead. Leave your options open.
5. Know every ship in the game, even if you don't fly them. Guardians always operate in pairs or threes, so where there's one, there's more.
6. If you have to leave the fight, tell people. If you're coming to join the fight, tell people.
7. This was very smart: warp to the guy that has an enemy tackled, if you can. Otherwise, you risk landing too far off to do any damn good.
8. Combination gangs are effective well beyond their strength in numbers. This gang -- a bait Thorax, a DPS Thorax, two Guardians, and a Falcon -- could not have been killed without a pretty sizeable response fleet. Certainly, our little scratch group with no logis couldn't have done it. At best, we might have caught one of the Guardians, but if the Guardian didn't agress, he could have just jumped out.
9. Be smart about aggressing, particularly if you're out-numbered, alone, or in a logi. See (8).
A key lesson to be learned from EVE is that every engagement, even a minor inconclusive one like this, is a good opportunity to self-analyze. Judge how you did. Decide how you could have done better. Learn from your mistakes.