Fighting “The Fist”

In their “Delve Contract” PL used armor hacs with guardian support to crush a variety of fleets arrayed against them. The plated heavy-cruisers were instructed to orbit a damnation and move together.

This formation, when held together, was difficult to break and could cause serious damage at close range. For these reasons, the nickname of “the fist” caught on quickly.These fights are recounted in the video “Mercenary Theory,” which can be found on Eve-O or SHC in the appropriate video sub-forum. In my opinion, it’s one of the best videos of the year thus-far.

With their great success, came quick imitation from admirers in the NC. The northerners are calling their version the “Bro Fist” (a reference to their unity as a coalition) and they’ve had success against drone-region alliances in fairly large fights. The fitting discipline and execution has been somewhat weaker from the NC, but I’m very impressed that they are willing to try something new and skill-intensive.

Though Cry Havoc released footage of this tactic years ago, including the S3verence titan kill and other mid-size engagements, PL clearly deserves credit for driving yet another evolution of in-game tactics.

For those who haven’t studied “the fist” concept, here is a short summary of how the fleet is organized —

Composition Breaks Down Into:

60% Armor hac (usually zealots and ishtars)
20% Guardians
10% Bomber/recon/light dic (these will operate independently from the fist)
5% Damnation (armor bonuses)
5% HIC (plated and cycling bubbles on/off to allow repping)

Their Roles Are:

>> Pulse zealots and sentry ishtars are used for pure dps. A plated muninn is also acceptable in NC gangs but PL do not seem to bring them.

>> The fleet is supported by 10+ guardians, and they tend to be experienced at the role. With command ship bonuses, t2 resists, a small signature and afterburner-enhanced transversal speeds it is possible to rep HACs even under heavy fire from a fleet of snipe BS.

>> The HAC fleet typically orbits a single command ship who is used as an “anchor” that determines overall fleet movement. All cruisers have an afterburner (not mwd) to improve transversal while orbiting.

>> Cloaking ships operate autonomously while the hacs and logistics maintain the orbit, which frees them to focus solely on the task of shooting hostiles or repping friendlies. Bombers in particular play a key role in causing harm to the enemy.

>> Ships with free mids are often instructed to fit an anti-caldari ECM racial jammers or remote ECCM module to counter any kind of caldari voodoo put on the field to prevent the guardians from repping.

So, how do you win against this? First, some general counters.

1-     Lots of ECM, lots. Plus  a solid fleet that can exploit holes in repair coverage.

2-     Significant Numerical Superiority (can use close-range BCs or BS snipers to overwhelm).

If those are not an option, I think there are 3 fleet styles that stand a chance with similar numbers being fielded by both sides.

1-     RRBS With Support (guardians & plated recons for webs & target painting)

2-     Copy The Tactic (bring the same ships)

3-     Drakes & Scimitars

The key is to winning without massive ECM or numerical superiority is to beat them up-close. Deal more damage while tanking more. So, how would these setups do against a fist formation?

Mirror Match – This would come down to the involved pilots (both FCs and their general pilots). If one side is inexperienced, particularly the guardians, they are going to get swept.

Scimi/Drake – BC hulls are more vulnerable to bombs than armor hacs, but also far more mobile if MWD-fit. A Scim/Drake gang might be able to missile-spam heavies from range (escaping bubbles) but probably have less efficient repairing due to T1 resists. Also, using heavy missiles against AB-fit cruisers will result in up to 50% dps loss while sentries and pulses will hit for full if in range.

RRBS + Logis + Web/Painting Recons – This is a great counter, but still one that has its flaws. The RRBS bring additional reps to aid the guardians. The recons (with web and painters) will keep primaries slowed and sig-bloated. The BS deal good damage on well-tackled targets and have much larger buffers. On the down-side, bombs are highly-effective and T1 resists will make repair less efficient. Mobility could become a major issue as well.

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8 Responses to “Fighting “The Fist””

  1. Titus Loken Says:

    I would love to see how effective ‘The Fist’ is against an equal size ‘The Fist’ – The fight would be brutal.

    Scimi/Drake and RRBS – these are cheap and effective counters too ‘The Fist’, however… Drakes and RRBS are cheap and easy to get into, this has a tendancy too invite a lower calibre of pilot to join in (not that you can’t have fail HAC pilots aswell). These pilots are a great risk to the whole opperation. Like in Clarion Call “Although if we had lost one, the misusing or damage might have cost us the fight entirely”.

    When I flew with D00M. on an RRBS operation, there where a few pilots who would leave the rep range of the anchor by 50+km at a fully armed hostile POS. Not only would they do this, but they would also complain on open fleet comms about us abandoning them to die.

    These lower calibre pilots should not be left at home however, they should be removed from the alliance – atleast until they get some more experiance, as most of them are really nice guys.

  2. Obligatory NC bro fist formation propaganda image:

    As for relevant discussion, I think it might be possible that a fist-vs-fist fight could actually turn into a draw; I’ve seen it happen when logistics-heavy fleets fight each other where neither side can get kills. Sort of amusing.

  3. Woutorian Says:

    Nice write up. Let’s crack our brains on a new counter strategy to this tactic, since in my opinion all current counter strategy’s lack finesse and efficiency.

  4. Titus Loken Says:

    We countered this the other day with a mixed hac/bc gang, they jumped into us with rougly equal numbers, lost 7 in quick succession and jumped back out lol – our substantial bomberwing lined up on gate didn’t even need to get involved.

  5. Pl and the NC have been using AB fit 1600mm plated hacs quite effectively recently.

    It brings a new dimension to a fight with maxed out Damnation and Claymore pilots giving maximum armour and signature reduction.

    Its nice to see new ideas being used!

    • I agree with everything you said, but that’s not the whole story here.

      The fist is being “protected” by skill bombers. If a large snipe BS gang tries to pick them off, they all get bombed and have to warp (or die).

      PL are great with bombs and the NC has the help of Goons (who – despite losing the Elitist Ops group – still have some of the best bomber pilots around).

      I would also like to echo your “new ideas” comment. Anyone reading IT forums knows I wish my own alliance were open to using new tactics, but they are extremely stuck in the “snipe BS > all” mentality. Most of the resistance is due to the fact that what will work in my timezone (US/PST) is different from the alliance’s prime-time (Western Euro Prime).

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