Wednesday, February 2, 2011



That... I... oooooppphhhh.

Ok, to be fair, close range (CR) battleships (BSs) (sporting webs and target painters) is a very good way to beat ahacs.  And Evoke are very good PvPers.

That said, this battle shouldn't have been that one sided.  the NC ahacs had Evoke out-dps'd and had more logis.  From what I've heard from others, it sounds like the NC FC anchored his fleet 40-50km off of the enemy fleet and started calling primaries.  This is outside of ahac range (about 30-35km for pulse scorches) but almost exactly at CR BS optimals.  It sounds like he didn't know what he was doing.

There are some reports that command assumed that Evoke was bringing long range (LR) BSs, which are really popular in 0.0 warfare nowadays.  And if that was the case, then their tracking would have been horrible at 40km.  But tbh, you should never assume long range when you see a ton of abaddons and tempests on field.

There are also reports that a lot of the NC dudes brought a sniper hac setup instead of an armor hac setup, which would have been disasterous.  I don't know if this is true.  I didn't look at every killmail individually, but the ones that I did see were all armor hac setup.

Alpha Mael

No, the title isn't a typo.

I'm currently snowed into Saint Louis because of the storm that's stretching across my continent.  I'm about 2000 miles from my desktop, so atm, I'm not very busy in EVE.  I decided to take a break from watching Weeds (great show) to write about the current fleet doctrine that most (if not all) major alliances have adopted in last few months: the alpha fleet.

It's a pretty simple concept, really: overwhelm your enemy's logis by dealing so much damage on the initial blow that they can't lock and repair the primary target fast enough.  But let me back up for a moment.

I like to think of myself as an educator... no really, before I got into nulsec, I had no idea what the hell a "logistics ship" was.  Since I heard a statistic that more than 70% of characters never see nulsec, I'm thinking that at least one of my readers has no idea what I'm talking about when I say "logis."  But I digress.  Typically, in a large gang warfare there will be two general shiptypes essential to your fleet: a tank and gank shiptype and a logi shiptype.  Tank and gank is pretty straight forward: ships with heavy buffer for tank and ok dps.  The logis (short for logistics) are a shipclass in EVE that are roughly equivalent to priests in WoW; they repair freindly ships that are being primaried by the enemy.

Lag is bad... obvious right?  Well, in large gang warfare, it causes a lot of problems for logis.  In a high lag situation, when an enemy switches primaries suddenly, some of your logis are going to be trying to cycle their reps and won't be able to respond very quickly.  Therefore, you would only expect a fraction of your logistics force to be responding to a friendly crying out for help.  This makes things easier for the enemy fleet commander (FC) and forces you to scream at your dudes for more logi participation when you formup a fleet.  Despite lag still being horrendous, CCP has made quite a few improvements that have made it much less of an issue than it was six months ago.  So, a few months back, FCs started to realize that the now heavy logi participation (with reduced lag) was making the drake army (the popular fleet doctrine at the time) very difficult to kill.  This is when FCs started to think of ways to take logis out of the equation.  They came up with an elegant solution: the Maelstrom.  The Maelstrom has a decent buffer tank and, fitted with 1400s, does a ton of alpha damage.  Its damage is somewhere on the order of 10k damage per volley.  Of course, the cycle time is insanely long, which evens out its dps.  Nevertheless, with this fleet doctrine, at least in theory, your boys should only be able to get off one shot each before the primary target goes down anyway.

Practically speaking, this fleet doctrine has lived up to its promise.  I remember hearing stories about the early days of the Fountain war, where we would jump our alpha fleet right on top of a group of enemy carriers and pop them in two volleys.  And, damn my name for starting with A-j, every time I bring an alpha fleet ship onto the field against another alpha fleet, I get one-shotted before I can lock anything on field.

Most alliances use the maelstrom as the backbone of their tank and gank, but they also supplement the doctrine with another battleship.  The first time I heard of the alpha fleet doctrine, it was being used by IT in Catch against AAA.  They added beam Apocs to mix because they wanted to accommodate their members who had Amarr but not Minmatar skills.  This would be a tactical mistake that they would realize a bit later during the Fountain war.  Shortly after hearing about IT's doctrine, the goons announced their own alpha setup, using heavily tanked scorpions to add a little ECM to the mix while supporting the fleet close-range with smartbombs and neuts.  The goons refused to accommodate their non-matari pilots, reasoning that CCP was giving everyone an sp reallocation and that their pilots could use that reallocation to get the necessary skills for the maelstrom.  PL came out with a similar setup that used rohks instead of scorps, but nothing really came of it.  I think PL decided to stick with their famous hellcat setup instead.

Once the Fountain war rolled around, the differences in alpha setups would be tested.  The goon setup came out on top in most cases.  The reason: apocs can fit a weak shield buffer, at best.  The IT apocs would melt very quickly, and their number of effective combat ships quickly dwindled in every engagement.  This, along with the added ECM support from their scorpions, meant that the Dekco would win in almost every engagement.  Since the beginning of the Fountain war, IT has been trying to follow the goon lead a little bit and has been encouraging more of their people to bring scorpions to the battlefield.

If you live in highsec and you're wondering what impact this has had on you, check out the market data on maelstroms and everything that compliments the alpha fleet doctrine.  Keep in mind that the alpha fleet started to become popular in November/early December 2010.  Here's some six-month price histories on a few things that I literally just pulled up on my jita alt:

Since last November, the price of a Maelstrom has risen from a stable 95M isk to 125M isk.  Likewise, Scorpions have risen to 60M isk from 45M isk.  Meta 4 1400 prices have more than doubled from less than 3M isk to about 6M isk.  Also note the rise is sale volume.  It’s a sellers market.  The heavy battleship use nowadays might have something to do with the steady rise in mineral prices over the last few months.  But I’m burnt out on this post, so I’ll let you do the research on that one.

Until next time, good hunting, and I'll see you on the front.