Monday, November 25, 2013

The man makes some fine roast chicken

(Title courtesy of Order of the Stick #467.)

My corp is probably the smallest one in my alliance; aside from myself, it was practically in mothballs earlier in the year, but then there was a combination of an old ally coming back and a veteran pirate looking for a change of pace, and suddenly I'm The Boss.  At any rate, when we fly, we make for a small combat element, practicing two- or three-man tactics.

A major part of that is, of necessity, identifying escape vectors if a tactical situation goes haywire on us.  Is it cowardice to have an exit strategy?

The pattern often goes something like this: if two of us see a singleton in a faction plex, we'll warp in and be ready to engage (all too often, the singleton warps away).  If we see two, we discuss tactics, who to primary, and then if it looks doable, we'll engage.  We won't hurl ourselves into a two-versus-four, two-versus-six, or worse.

If we're the ones set up in the plex, we generally stay ready to bug out.  Not because we're risk-averse (my usual plexing call is "hey, want to go get blown up?"), but because there's no point in being slaughtered senselessly.  We see a singleton come in on us? Of course we'll engage, but stay aware of what's going on with short-range d-scans.  2v2? We'll take it.  2v3? Depends on the makeup (3 frigates? Doable. 3 destroyers? Probably not so much if we're in frigates). Hold 'em, probably. 2v5? Fold; walk away.  2v11, when the 11 include logistic ships and jammers and stuff built to shred frigates with impunity?  Run.

But if we're caught, try to give as good as we get.  Let 'em know they've been in a battle.

And as we go, we learn.  We discover new tactics, learn new ships (I never realized that a Condor could make a half-decent Wild Weasel setup against a Griffin - provided that my auto-targeting missiles don't get fixated on a plex rat), learn how to compensate for each other's strengths and weaknesses.  The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

Faction warfare is belittled, derided, laughed at.  But it's actually a good place to learn the sort of things that don't really make the news.  The real fights in places like Black Rise aren't the thousand-strong battleship fleets, but the two-to-six-strong light combat craft brawls, where things happen too fast for a structured, steady strategy.

It's not chess, or Risk, or Diplomacy.  It's more like Ping-Pong.

Except that the ball is explosive, and sometimes you've got to run.