Please enjoy another 'tale from the front line'.
We watch, and sometimes, we learn
Open University of Celestial Hardship [OUCH] is part of the Art of War Alliance. We train newbie PvP pilots to fly and die in NPC null security space. We do a lot of bubble camping.
Bubble camping is the lazy pilot’s PvP. We hang out and shoot the bull, watching for traffic. It’s kind of like duck hunting, ‘cept the ducks can get pretty big, and more often than not, they shoot back. It’s the perfect way to break a brand new pilot into PvP. The pilots of Open University and our brothers and sisters of Art of War Alliance have gotten pretty good at killing the careless, foolish and fearless.
We’ve seen a lot of cool things in NPC null, dodging the huge BC/BS fleets travelling through on their way to battles in SOV null, dealing with the smaller BC fleets looking for trouble. We’ve been hotdropped by Black Ops gangs, and Titan bridged battlecruiser fleets. We give fights to the guys who bring just enough fleet or ship to make it interesting. We hide and wave as the large fleets barrel through looking for something to kill. They deride us when we don’t engage their bait. We try to act surprised when local lights up, and the dozen or more battlecruisers that were waiting next door jump in.
With the lull in the summer, we are trying a few new things, but we had a chance to observe several fleets camping in the systems that we normally camp. It’s pretty interesting and even amusing.
We’ve seen a decent cloaky gang, Falcon, Hound, cloaky Sabre (not too unusual ) and a cloaky Vagabond (a bit unusual) running a gate camp or two. The cloaks allow them to choose their targets, and the ‘dictor bubble holds their target hopefully long enough for the Sabre and the Vaga to overcome their targeting delays and get scrams/points/webs their prey, while the Falcon protects them and the Hound brings the DPS to let them kill medium to large sized ships. They were pretty successful.
We’ve seen a Pilgrim, Vaga, Hurricane and Drake try something similar on a bubble camp. We engaged them with a frigate/cruiser fleet, mixed it up, and withdrew, keeping all of our ships intact. They in turn commenced to camp our bubble, the lot of them, cloaked up on it in scram/web range. They could not catch our interceptor, so we unanchored and pulled the bubble out from under them before we had a chance to see if their plan was going to work.
We’ve come to understand that “Everything cloaks in Curse”. Dramiel? Yep. Cynabal? Seen it. Armageddon? You bet. Rattlesnake? Hmm… Was that last week or the week before? Pretty sure it was last week.
We’ve watched a formidable gang camp our normal hunting grounds: 3 battleships, 4 battlecruisers, 2 logistics ships and a Dramiel. Multiple bubbles to catch traffic. The battleships sat on the bubbles, the rest of the gang on a tactical to warp in to the bubble that caught the traffic. But we didn’t see them catch anything except a beating, when a medium sized battlecruiser gang filled their dance card, killing several ships without taking significant losses.
We’ve seen Strategic Cruiser boosted Nano ‘Canes, Nano Drakes (yes, plural) , Vagas, and Cynabals. If a Tengu or Loki jumps in and stays one second longer than it takes to pass through the system, we can pretty much bet on his speed fit friends arriving shortly.
We’ve seen a small gang play our game: Rifter, Thrasher, Hawk, and Blackbird camping on a gate that we’ve been known to camp. That’s a play in our playbook, and they were playing on our field. We ran a play of our own on them and sent them on their way.
We’ve seen our former blues, but still colleagues, from Eve University bring large fleets into our region. Well balanced fleets heavy on EWAR, designed to herd new pilots into a PvP experience, which is no easy task. We respect that. But they’re way too big and we don’t think that they are going to find the fight they are looking for in our region of space.
And that’s the crux of the matter. It seems that most fleets are built around bringing overwhelming force, something that other fleets might think twice before engaging. But the bigger the fleet the harder it is to find a controllable fight.
That’s the catch 22: You want to be big enough to fight and win, but small enough to get the other guys to bring you the fight. Sun Tzu would say, that the good general wants to appear weakest where you are strongest.
Open University does small gang PvP. We fly light ships in small gangs, and when people want to engage us, it’s because they think they have a chance. But we don’t fight fair. We work hard at finding advantages and exploiting weaknesses, and if we don’t think that we can handle our opponent’s 7 ship Minmatar Rush gang… well… we let them go.
“So sorry, no kill mails for joo. Joo ‘ave a nice pocking day.”
That large bubble camp gang with the battleships we talked about earlier? They certainly had firepower, but they lacked mobility and they paid for it when the BC fleet showed up. That small gang we spoke of, playing our game? They were doing alright, and we’re sure they had scouts and a plan, but they couldn’t account for all the folks in local and it cost them a handful of ships.
For us, a 12 ship fleet starts to get complicated and a 20 ship fleet is about our limit. We balance our fleets with light and heavy tacklers, DPS, stealth and spread quite a bit of EWAR around. We’ve learned that if the fleet is too big, (or the ships are too big) people avoid you. As the ships get bigger, it becomes harder to bail out when things go bad. And if the fleet is too big, or the ships are too big, other fleets will up-ship or plus-ship so that they are bringing more than enough fleet to dominate you.
Ask any permanent Open University member how many guys the other fleet is going to bring to kill one Rifter, and you’ll get the same answer: “All of them.” That’s more than enough.
Staying light allows Art of War Alliance to be mobile and hostile. Our new guys might be flying T1 'cause they are inexperienced, but our veterans appreciate that you can fly a T1 Frigate or Cruiser and keep it fun. Killing command ships with frigates makes for great stories: you haven’t lived until you warp away after the tackle, trailing fire and smoke while your mates finish off that warship that cost 1000 times more than the ship you’re flying.
We’re not afraid to engage guys bigger than us, or in more powerful ships, but we do it on our terms. We’re fast, light and territorial killers. Like barracuda. Go small or go home.
Bren Genzan, Chief of Operations, Open University of Celestial Hardship [OUCH]