Wednesday 4 December 2013

[GUIDE] Target selection - Who should you shoot first? EVE Target Calling

Following on from my brief FC'ing guide, here is a one regarding target selection for target callers.

Now some fleets have special target priorities, and where possible I'll mention those as I go, but remember this guide is meant as a primer for FC's, and I'm going to hope by the time you are taking out a specialist fleet you'll know what to shoot first anyway!

Now the idea of target calling is simple, by focus firing you use the entire fleets DPS to remove enemy DPS in the quickest possible way. At the same point you need to consider the integrity of your own fleet. 

A simple target priority list is this:

  1. DPS
  2. Everything else.

If you kill all of the enemies DPS ships they cannot kill you. You win the fight, and in the simplest fights it it is just that simple. Now to maximise efficiency of this process you need to know which ships put out the most DPS, and which are the easiest to kill. This comes from being able to assess the current fleet composition of the enemy, and choosing which ships will remove the most DPS in the shortest time. 
EFT is your friend here, the more you know about ships and their capabilities the better.

TIP - Playing in EFT is good way of learning ships,  if your unsure what fits to look at a simple way is pick an active PVP corp's killboard look over their losses, import the fits into EFT and see how much EHP and damage they provide.

Example: Against a shield fleet with 3 brutix and 3 drakes
A Brutix can put out 1000dps, and has 40k EHP
A Drake puts out 500dps but is likely to have 70k EHP
(All figured made up on the spot)

To remove 1000 dps from drakes it takes almost twice as long as killing a single brutix. In this situation you are better off shooting the Brutix's. However be warned in an armour gang, the Brutix is likely to have 80k EHP but only do 500dps. So be aware of what the enemy fleet is composed of. If the fleet has an obvious theme you can make a judgement on targets.

Now obviously this is EVE,  it's not as simple as that!

In EVE we have lots of ships that act as force multipliers. Force Multipliers are ships that either increase the threat of the enemy fleet, or decrease the threat of your own fleet. Many brawling gangs will run buffer fits rather than active tanks, however by adding a logistics cruiser to the gang the enemy fleet is suddenly capable to repairing some or all of the damage you are shooting at them. Their ships stop exploding! This is a bad thing! Or if they add an ECM ship, your own ships are unable to lock and shoot the enemy, your fleet looses DPS, or potentially your own logistics ships suddenly are unable to repair you! Your fleet starts to explode! This is a really bad thing!

Some examples of force multipliers are:
  • Logistics - these repair their own fleet. 
  • EWAR - these negatively effect the enemy fleet
  • Tacklers - these can hold down one of your ships, forcing you to stay on the fight, or slowing it down so that it takes more damage. 
  • Cyno ships - these bring in support, either in the form of capital ships, or more subcapitals bridged from a titan. 
  • Covert Cyno's - incoming Blackops ships
  • Capital Ships Carriers/Dread/SC/Titans
When there is force multipliers in the enemy fleet you have to start looking at the threat they pose, and decide if you need to kill them, disable them, or ignore them.

Threat evaluation of Logistics. 

Logistic ships are a Tech2 cruiser hull, whilst they do not pose a direct threat to your fleet, they are their to repair the enemy fleet, a task they do very well. Usually they will be at the back of the fleet as far as possible away from you, so you have to go round or through the dps ships to get to them.
The more of them in the enemy fleet the more you need to pay attention to them.

If you have enough DPS in your fleet to kill enemy ships then you can pretty much ignore them, and focus on killing DPS. Focusing your DPS on fragile ships is a good way to test the enemy logistic tank. If you can't break a ship, call 3 targets and tell all ships to lock each of these, also tell everyone to lock a random ship in the enemy fleet. Now have them fire a single salvo at the random ship, then immediately  fire on one of the three to focus fire. The initial random shooting should light up the enemies watch list and make it difficult for the logistics ships to tell who is about to be primary.

If you have your own ECM/Ewar ships task these to disable the enemy logistics, this may include falcons (ECM) Curse (neuting), sending all available ECM drones is usually a good plan.

Kill/Force off
If you have tried to break the enemies tank, and are unable to keep killing ships you need to start firing on the logistic ships themselves either to destroy them, or to force them to warp out. If you can't kill the logistics and you can't kill anything else in fleet you need to bug out, or escalate the fight with support.

Threat Evaluation of EWAR. 
As a threat EWAR ships should rank highly on your list. There are many different forms, and they are less or more dangerous to certain fleet doctrines and ship types. Ewar comes in several forms, the most common in PVP are:

  • ECM
  • Neuting
  • Target Painting
  • Webs
  • Sensor Damping

  • ECM is often considered the worst threat, it prevents the targeting ship from locking anything and generally being useful. 
  • Neuting, slightly more specialised as some ships can still fire their guns/missiles whilst being neuted. Their shield/armour resists may be significantly lowered if they are active modules, making them easier to kill. 
  • Target Painting, this increases your signature size to make you a bigger target, thus easier to hit and you will take more damage. 
  • Webs, slow the target down, making it easier to hit/take more damage. Also can be used to separate ships from their support if the fight is moving on the grid.
  • Sensor Damping, this can be used to either makes ships lock slower, very dangerous against logistic ships which have to quickly change targets to repair them. Alternatively this can be used to reduce the locking range of ships, useful to force support ships (logistics/ewar platforms) to come closer into the fight, thus putting them at greater risk. 

If after their arrival you still have enough DPS to kill the enemy ships, and are not loosing significant numbers of your own fleet. Target painters against your battleships can pretty much be ignored UNLESS there are dreadnoughts on the field. Target painters on your frigates shouldn't be ignored, as you will be taking far more damage.

If you have your own ECM/Ewar ships task these to disable the enemy EWAR platforms. Sensor damps are very good at countering ranged ewar ships, who will often attempt to sit outside the main fight.
ECM drones are less useful given the extreme range.

Kill/Force off
Ewar ships are often relatively fragile, and long range guns, or even sending a couple of frigates towards them is often enough to force them from the battle even if you can't kill them.

Threat Evaluation of Tacklers
There are many types of tackle ships, and most PVP fits have some form of tackle fitted.
The main threat of enemy tackle is that it commits you to the fight, it's largely not a threat until you want to leave! Skirmish/Nano and Sniper gangs have to treat tackle ships differently. These cannot afford to get bogged down in close combat so they have to destroy any scram/web tackle ships as a high priority. Rapiers/Huggins with their long webs are the bane of skimish gangs, and Arazu/Lachesis are often able to apply scrams at 20-25km and point ships out to 80km+ with bonus's. Tackle frigates interceptors interdictors can move very fast and provide warp in points for heavier ships.

Threat Evaluation of Cyno ships
These are a massively unknown risk, a cyno field on grid means that either the enemy (or a third party) is about to bring on considerable support. Usually this support is going to be large enough to change the balance of power in a big way, you don't commit more ships to a loosing battle unless it's going to change it to a winning one! Unless you have your own backup support you should be thinking about an exit plan at this point.

Cyno's can either be used to bring in any or all of the following:

  • Triage Carriers - these are giant very powerfull logistics ships normally dropped to support Battleships heavy fleets who have the EHP to make it worth while. They are harder to kill than normal logistics cruisers, and rep more! 
  • More sub caps! Titan's can bridge any form and quantity* of sub caps to a cyno beacon, that means you could suddenly be facing 30+ battleships! or even 100 frigates!
  • Combat Carriers - whilst relatively rare carriers can field large amounts of drones, or fighters to kill battleships. 
  • Dreadnoughts - these capital ships apply huge damage to other capitals/structures with the right support they are able to alpha battleship size ships. They struggle to lock, let alone hit smaller ships, cruisers and frigates are largely immune to dreadnoughts.
  • Titans - it does happen... 
Not wise. 

Not possible, once the cyno is up it runs for 10mins unless you kill the ship. (less on bonused hulls)

Cyno ships are immobile once the field activates, usually you won't have very long before the enemy fleet starts to jump to the beacon. If you can manage to kill the ship quickly you may prevent all of the gang jumping through. Be advised, most fleets that are running cyno's will use something with alot of tank to light the cyno. Most gangs will also have a backup cyno just in case you kill the first one. 

Threat Evaluation of Covert Cyno ships
These are usually more of a risk to your fleet than normal cyno's. They only allow BlackOPs battleships, Recon's, Stealth Bombers, and Covert T3's to jump (or be bridged) in, but because of the value of whats about to land on you, you can be sure that your enemy is very confident that he is bringing enough to completely overpower you.

Not wise, pretty much suicide.

Not possible, once the cyno is up it runs for 1min unless you kill the ship. (less on bonused hulls)

Good news on this front, Covert cyno's can only be fitted to particular ships, these are usually have squishier tanks than normal cyno ships. Unless it's a tech3 cruiser as these can be (and usually are) highly tanked.

In conclusion

So now we're looking at a broader threat landscape than the beginning of the post. It will change depending on your own fleet composition, but as a starting point you will want to consider threats in this order. 
  1. Cyno's
  2. Ewar
  3. Logistics
  4. DPS
  5. Everything else
Hopefully after reading this guide you'll now understand more about the threat landscape you are facing as an FC, and have a better idea on how to evaluate and deal with threats.

- Anabaric

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