Zen the Art of Muninn Maintenance

The holiday season has brought us a fair number of mid to large-sized engagements from Catch & Impass to Fountain. However, many -MVN- fleet commanders long for smaller engagements where individual pilot skill and quick decision-making by a scout or FC can turn the tide of an even (or even imbalanced) fight in our favor.

Blobs / fleet fights are more about coordination & communication than anything else. While Eve’s sand-box environment encourages you to bring additional pilots in ways that other online games guard against (e.g. enforced battle sizes / team sizes in FPS games, RTS games, and most MMORPGs) there are still ways for smaller groups to fight back.

In USTZ, apart from major sov challenges tied to timers, we have been fighting a guerilla war. The weapon of choice for alliance gangs has been bombers, but -MVN- FCs have another gang composition that we like to roll out when the right people are available to make it successful: snipe hacs.

Perhaps our most active FC since the corp joined IT (around the time I went on hiatus) has been Perseus “PK” Kallistratos. Ever since flying with the Tri elements during U.S. timezone ops in Max 2, he has been a huge fan of the sniper hac gang composition. These gangs require each pilot to react fairly quickly, and there are some people who simply fail too much to participate in or FC these gangs, but when they are used well they can fight larger enemy gangs in a way that long-ranged BS and BCs cannot.

Having taken out Snipe HACs many time in AtlasĀ  – and in a few cases before that – with repeated success, I am also a fan of this fleet composition. However, during my time in IT I have not called for snipe hacs very often because the majority of pilots in this alliance do not have experience with them and that can lead to disaster. Snipe HACs require timing and reaction time. If you get bad pilots in your fleet who have never flown snipe HACs, you end up spending a huge amount of time re-educating people. PK has been the one to bring the tactic back for U.S. timezone gangs open to the alliance.

Beyond their tactical strengths and weaknesses, there is a different experience of combat in a small snipe hac gang going up against a larger fleet. In 0.0 blob fights, aside from virgins on their first battle, you really feel like you are a passive participant. It’s just not exciting or immersive. Sure, you lock the primaries and cycle guns. Sure, you warp out occasionally. How much are you really in control? How much are you deciding? Would the battle have been different if the FC had literally played your character for you with a second keyboard, or did you add something? These are things I often feel, especially in heavy lag.

To Quote Pirsig’s famous novel, “You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.”

Much like riding a motorcycle in lieu of being a passenger behind the windows of a car, snipe hac gangs don’t leave you feeling like a passive observer. After flying in a small gang where individual pilot decisions change the outcome of fights to much greater extent, -MVN- snipe hac gangs have earned us praise from those who have come with us. You really do feel more in control, and more importnatly you feel you can fight even in a timezone that has been dominated by hostiles for years.

Here are the kills I made it on scouting for a recent snipe hac roam. Note, this is just from my perspective, the gang caught many more without me even touching the hostiles:

On that particular roam, three -MVN- FCs played a major role. I was scouting, Cardking was the primary target-caller and PK was coordinating fleet warp-outs and bounce-points. It all paid off in the battle we had in B-9 where we traded a few light tacklers for many quality kills on a NC blob. I didn’t think to capture a screen-shot during the main action, but I did get this picture.

In the end, we held the field and looted. The hostiles popped many of their own wrecks before warping, including that of their Tengu. Here is a shot I took of the field in the aftermath. 12 yellow wrecks and 5 white (4 tackle 1 covop) remained.

In the end, these gangs don’t kill titans or break sovereignty, but they do something equally important; they keep us active rather than spinning in stations. Winning a few small victories every night is more fun than simply waiting around for the daily blob battle. Both are important, and doing well in small gangs can boost morale that spills over into better “CTA” participation.

Truthfully though, even if it didn’t benefit the alliance, we would still run these gangs, because most of us enjoy this style of fighting the most and could not stand to only play in the official ops.

Finally, while it didn’t occur to me earlier, PK often blogs about riding his bike in real life on his blog. As the strongest advocate for snipe HACs in IT, maybe there is something more to the muninn-motorcycle connection than I realized when composing this post. While nothing in Eve is quite as exhilarating as risk-taking activities in the real world, warping in on a hostile blob in an agile but lightly-tanked snipe HAC is sure more fun than being in a drake-heavy slug fest.

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