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The Roving Warbands’ Guide to Entosising for Fun and Profit

August 11, 2016

Disclaimer: The following article was submitted to us by: SavenJerent. Statements made in this article are that of the author and do not reflect those of EN24

I read numerous articles, read copious blogs and listen to many podcasts regarding large-scale PVP that occurrs throughout New Eden; the gargantuan battles, the billions of ISK lost or or spent in prosecuting wars, the scintillating personalities discussing the doctrines and tactics involved in winning capital battles and so on. More recently I have heard, from the Open Comms Show and a few other podcasts, of an expanding interest in the smaller scale warfare that is going on around the universe. In this article, I hope to be able to bring this to you, using my home region of Scalding Pass as an example, as well as my opinion on the sov mechanics that allowed the region to become what it is today, and how they can be utilised to great effect by smaller groups. As a regular listener of Ashers Hour, I was taken aback when two particular statements found their way into one minute of the most recent episode; the first being that he is a big fan of small and medium scale PVP and the second being that Fozzie Sov does nothing to progress the state of gameplay at this scale. I have respect for his skills as an FC as well as his playstyle, and enjoy hearing his After-Action Reports, but wonder if he has experienced these mechanics properly within the small/medium scale sphere.

When I joined Feign Disorder back in September 2015, they had just taken their first systems in Scalding Pass. Despite many people disagreeing with the Fozzie Sov mechanics and claiming that it doesn’t work as intended for small/medium engagements, the playstyle worked very well with our player-base. At the time, Gorgon Empire, Advent of Fate, Drama Sutra and Bright Side of Death were well embedded in Scalding Pass, and PFR had a solid foothold in the region as well. Gorgon Empire in particular helped to shape the landscape of Scalding Pass by supporting PFR in setting up in the region, and giving stations to any alliance willing to Freeport them. The system of 4-CM8I actually remains a freeport still and is a reminder of the effort they put into the region.

With the new sov mechanics being explored, entities were scrambling snatch up new systems of opportunity. It was during this period that we were able to critically analyse these new mechanics and develop strategy for optimal performance during the timers. With skilled, smaller entities on the scene, we often came up against fantastic 10-20 man compositions that really tested our skills and developed us as pilots. This would later pay off exponentially when coalition forces would come knocking on the door, but that would be another story.

From what I could make of the criticisms of Fozzie-Sov, most arguments against the changes were presented by larger groups who have the capacity to form up larger (by this I mean 30-50+ man) fleets, arguing against the monotony of pointing a sov wand at an object for 10-40 minutes. However, this mechanic really plays to the strength of smaller and well organised groups, co-coordinating around the constellation and running guerrilla tactics on the nodes. It allows for the smaller alliances to get a foothold into sovereignty, make a mark on dotlan and compete with the larger groups to an extent – certainly far more so than under the dominion mechanics. A good example of this is when TEST alliance were staging in Wicked Creek. FEIGN would create timers against RANE, who in turn would call in TEST to help them defend. As an agile fleet we were able to run circles around the TEST fleet – if they locked down a gate we were fast enough that we could take a detour and loop around to continue killing of enemy entosis ships. We could scout the constellation quickly, knowing where the new nodes were and where the hostile fleet was. We could react rapidly to one of our entosis ships getting tackled and remove the threat while the slow blob would not be able to counter our jabs. Their ability to move around the constellation as we would was neutered by our quick reactions to their fleet members’ movements, thus forcing them to move as a larger group. Effectively we were locking them down to only two nodes while we were able to run three, allowing for a slow, but assured, victory. Using these methods, which we continue to do on such ops, we can use a small force to nullify the hostile fleets ability to lock us down in one place and force us to fight head on. One thing that used to be very prevalent at the launch of Fozzie Sov was larger groups huddling together on nodes. The transition to more appropriate tactics by these groups has taken a while, and you can still see this dominion method attempted one year after the change – these are usually the groups who are complaining.

There are many tactics that small groups can use to get one up on the larger opposing force, and I will outline a few of them here:

  1.  Use speed to your advantage, and don’t overlook warp speed. By moving quickly around the grid, system and constellation, you can open up opportunities to separate stragglers, sow confusion and isolate targets to pick off; even one less hostile on grid is only leveling the playing field for you. Hyperspatial rigs can be your friend. A perfect example of this tactic can be found in this battle report whereby mistakes can be forced through persistence and application of pressure, causing the opposing fleet to fold.
  2.  Co-ordinate effectively. Have dotlan open, know your routes in and out and have roaming interceptors constantly checking every system. More often than not entosis conflicts come down to a war of intel and communication – who is running what nodes where and where the hostile fleet is. Using this information, you can form a strategy to counter your enemies’ offensive plays, and minimise their window of defensive opportunity.
  3.  Know the field of battle. The shape of the constellation needs to be well known by the fleet. Which gates go where, which routes are available to loop around systems, and where are they key strategic positions such as constellation-centric systems or choke points both inside the constellation or for entry to the area. Also, importantly, is where the primary set of nodes have spawned; are they spread out or gravitating around a small area of the constellation? Knowing these and a bit about your enemy can allow you to make key predictions on the way the fight will develop and how you can counter their plays.
  4.  Know your enemy. As soon as your scout links that first d-scan of the hostile fleet you can build a picture of how the fighting will progress and over how many areas. Obviously you can see how many nodes they are aiming to run, but also how many entosis ships they can realistically defend. Can they realistically spare any line members for their own anti-entosis work and what do you have that can counter it?
  5.  Play the morale game. Even if you can’t win this particular skirmish, think about how you can be a thorn in their side for the duration of the timer. Poke them, force them to be on their toes and make it difficult for them to extract. Push them to bring their A-game and always be ready to catch a fat kid on any warp they make – trail of tears tactics are a useful move to whip out of your playbook here. If you’re annoying enough they may not think it worth their time to try and pick fights with you again.

I don’t take issue with the ‘N+1’ compositions, and the tactics they breed, that are prevalent – they have their place in game, can be fun to fly in and against, and cater to a large portion of the playerbase’s PVP desires. However, that playstyle just does not sit comfortably with a lot of people in EVE. Especially as older characters, it is very rewarding to fly in a small fleet in which individuals are assigned different roles and which relies on the actions of each member individually for success. For me, there is no feeling quite like landing on grid vastly outnumbered and methodically working your way through the targets by using clever tactics to draw them out and forcing their hand in the engagement, or locking down an entosis op when outnumbered 2:1. It is a truly rewarding albeit intense way to play, but the satisfaction is tremendous.

I want to leave you with some interesting facts that people may not have considered when regarding the Aegis Sov mechanics. While these tips are aimed at small gangs, I do know of pilots using this strategy solo, ultimately not aiming to win, but rather to leverage hefty sums of ISK from alliances. A fellow corp member, Emma Kado, has made 30 billion ISK in three months of largely solo entosis work against a number of different alliances, with occasional support from four or fewer pilots. Similarly, another group nearby had four of their pilots ransom 16 billion ISK from a neighbouring alliance in payment for their knowledge of of Aegis Sov – the rewards of playing the Sov game well are clearly not just emotional.

Fozzie’s change of mechanics has undoubtedly opened up new avenues of gameplay for the playerbase in EVE, which can be a very rewarding game to play if only you are willing to learn it properly. It brought a whole new format of PVP into EVE, and new set of rules that sculpt the way a fight has to be engineered or molded to achieve success. When confronted with the challenge at a high-end level it is very competitive and intense – for me, it has enriched the game.