Tuesday, December 7, 2010

During a fight: adapt to the enemy or die

Those who are able to adapt and change in accord with the enemy and achieve victory are called divine.
-Sun Tzu

Last night I had a very nice little solo fight. I was in my Claw and took on a Dramiel. After dancing with him for a bit I eventually engaged him on a gate. To be honest I didn't think I had much of a chance. A Dramiel is a deadly ship. Basically it embodies everything you could want in a frigate (tracking bonus, falloff bonus, damage bonus) and adds in three drones, a faction ship tank and un-godly speed. To even have a chance I figured I had to engage him at point-blank range and hope for the best. I loaded my best anti-shield ammo (RF Phased plasma as I had not brought along EMP) and hoped for the best.

As he power-approached me on a gate I knew the fight was on. Instantly I activated everything but my armour repper. Within seconds both of us had lost shields. This was a little odd. I figured that he would have a shield extender. But as he hit armour two things happened.. One, I stopped doing any damage. Two he started repping his armour. Rather than a shield buffer tanked ship I was against an active armour tank. Very interesting

This is where the title of the article comes in. No plan ever survives first contact with an enemy. Time for a new plan. After checking the icons on the overview it was apparent that he had a tracking disruptor on me messing with my tracking. Even my fast tracking 125mms autocannons were not able to keep up with a fast moving ship so my DPS had dropped to zero :(. Meanwhile he was still hitting me with his guns, and his three drones. There was no way my SAR (small armour repper) could keep up to that onslaught. I needed to cut the angular velocity between us and do it quick.

I aligned for the sun and started motoring in a straight line*. This gave him a harder target to try and orbit. Thanks to my scram his speed advantage was cut significantly. I soon started to pull a couple km of range on him and angular velocity fell. My guns started doing damage again. Things started to shut down on my ship as I started to run out of cap. We were both using NOS on each other to power the armour repper, but we were both likely dry at this point so it was no use. At this point he should have reacted to my change in tactics. His plan of track-disrupting me was no longer effective, but he still had an advantage of speed and range. He should have started to kite me at this point. His ship had a fall-off bonus, plus his drones work at range, plus he had a warp-disruptor, so he could have moved to 10km and just waited for me to pop.  At the very least he could have warped away (my scram had capped out and so had his disruptor). Instead I managed to keep him between 2000m and 3000m, well within both of our fall-off range. Quite likely however he was having similar cap problems as me so instead he continued to try and maximize angular velocity which played to my strengths.

I had a slight advantage of higher resists, a tech-2 repper (no cap though), and a larger buffer. He had more overall DPS (thanks to the drones) but was shooting RF EMP which was fighting against my highest resistances. In the end my choice of going with Phased Plasma because I had no EMP decided it. I was in 40% structure as he popped. GF all around I looted and then limped to high-sec to repair my burnt out afterburner.

The moral of the story is to have a plan at the start of a fight, but pay attention. When things change either adapt, or run. Look at the icons on the overview showing e-war effects and note what is being done to you. If they loose point, and you are about to loose a 100m isk ship... then run. There were lots of things I was ready to react to. For example. if he had tried to kite me at 15km, I would have switched to his drones.

*Note: The other option at this point would be to approach gate so that his orbit would crash into the gate, killing his velocity both transversal and angular.

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