One of the things that I continuously try to do better in is maximize my effectiveness when participating in small gangs. When a pilot first starts running in gangs they typically follow the FC to the letter and concentrate on the Primary to the exclusion of all else. As an introduction this is a good thing. There is nothing worse for a fleet then to split fire across the enemy fleet. The FC is calling primary because he/she wants that target down since it represents a major threat to the gang. If everyone starts shooting at other targets then the whole concept of focused fire is lost and the gang is doomed.
Lets do a thought experiment to see why. Imagine two gangs engaging each other, each with 10 identical ships. Each ship has 100 DPS and a tank of 10,000 EHP. One gang focuses fire on primary after primary. The other gang has no focused fire at all.
For the gang with no focused fire it will take 10,000/100 = 100 seconds to destroy each of the enemy fleet. However this won't happen. In this imaginary battle the focused fire fleet will destroy an enemy ship every 10,000/(100*10) = 10 seconds. Every 10 seconds a ship on the non-focused fire fleet will be destroyed. At the 100th seconds the last remaining non-focused fire fleet will be destroyed just as it finally lands the killing blow on the focused fire fleet.
So far you probably thinking that the title of this blog is messed up. I just argued for focusing fire, not thinking about other targets. This is where reality comes in. In real battles we are not using the imaginary ships I described, rather we are using real ships (ok maybe not real in the physical sense but real in the sense that pixels and databases are involved).
Lets look at a common small gang ship that I fly. The nano-cane is an awesome ship whose speed, firepower and reasonable price make it a favorite for small gang PvP. However, if we look close we see that it actually has 4 distinct offensive weapon system.
6x425mm Autocannon: These provide the bulk of the offense delivering up to 600 DPS at short and medium ranges.
2xMedium Energy Neutralizers: These provide the ability to place massive cap pressure on an enemy ship, while the hurricane does not really need the capacitor thanks to the Autocannons.
1xWarp disruptor/scrambler: Prevents an enemy ship from being able to disengage when taking damage. If a scrambler shuts down the MWD as well.
5xWarrior II: Provides moderate amount of damage against ships of all sizes.
In general in battle the Autocannons are targeted at the primary. They are the main DPS and focused fire is what the FC is asking for. But what about the other three weapon systems? Should they be put onto the primary, or is there something better for them to do?
The energy neutralizers could have some effect. If the target has an active tank (a triple rep Myrmadon comes to mind) then they will be very effective, but in general the primary is a cornered beast and nueting it will not really make much of a difference. Even if the ship uses cap for it's weapons since it is soon to die, you neuting may not have any effect at all. Rather it is a better idea to put the nuets on a non-primary ship that is vulnerable to capacitor warfare. The perfect example of this would be an enemy logistics ship. By powering towards and then neuting an enemy logistics ship, you effectively take out one of their major force multipliers. If there is no enemy logistics, look for an laser or hybrid boat and put strain on it. Often this alone will neutralize the enemy ship and make it ineffective in the battle.
The warp disruptor/scram can also be put to better use then the primary. Unless there is a reason to suspect that they primary has not already had its warp drive shut down, or likely to in the future, put that point on someone else and call it. The FC will likely make that ship a future primary and without point it will be able to warp off. This is especially important during the mid-point in the battle when an enemy realizes that the battle is lost and people start running. Without spreading the points around, most of the enemy will be able to run.
The warriors could be placed on the primary. However they only represent about 10% of your total DPS, and they will take time to travel to the target (which may be dead by then). It is much better to place the warriors onto another target, especially a small ship that will be most impacted. Enemy interceptors, Light dictors and e-war ships are ideal targets. Interceptors will have to run from the fight to save themselves. This means that they will not be able to land points on your gang nor will they be able to apply e-war from extra mid-slots. Dictors are also lightly tanked and will not last long under attack from a flight or two of warriors. E-war ships (falcon, blackbird, rook) are also great targets for drones. Even if you are jammed the drones keep on fighting, forcing them to make choices about whether to flee (costing their fleet their e-war) or stay (and risk being destroyed). Even if there are no enemy ships on the field to engage, I would still recommend assigning them to a different ship then the primary. Any ship when it starts to take damage is likely to panic and either run away or request reps putting load on their logistics.
So next time you are in a small gang fight, make sure that you use all of your offensive weapons to their maximum potential. Pay attention to the FC, but also think about what else you can do. If you can remove one or two other enemy ships from the fight, in addition to laying down the DPS, do so. If the whole gang can do this it means that your small gang able to take on a larger gang, and still come out the victor.