Advanced Flyby Maneuvers
The Zen of Flyby Bookmark Marking
Now that you have gotten a good handle on the basics of Flyby maneuvers, its time to think of the various advanced maneuvers that can be done using the technique. Every tactic has its base core that can then be expanded to form more complex operations and the flyby technique is no different. In this article we will talk about some simple expansions of the flyby techniques, more advanced topics regarding making flyby bookmarks and how the technique can be used in a fleet operation.
Flyby Sniping is a technique that is defensive in nature. In a ground war on a planet, armies use forts, barbed wire and other defensive impediments to slow down the enemy and make them more vulnerable. In space it is a bit different. Because of the vast amount of space around a gate, defensive emplacements become difficult to construct in legitimate way. Instead, we use prepared bookmarks and prepared maneuvers in space to execute defensive operations. The flyby bookmarks are one example of a defensive emplacement that can make encroachment of enemies costly.
For these reasons, you should mark flyby bookmarks in your home systems, core pipe systems and on your home station. With some teamwork from friends, this should be easy to do. We merely follow the basic process for flyby bookmarks and then share our bookmarks among friends. To mark a station, have a gang mate undock from the station and fly away from him to make the alpha point and then warp back, go through and proceed on to make the beta point. When making the flyby points it will be easy to determine the right angle and then fly away 300km and warp back. With a gang mate acting as the anchor to the bookmarks, you can place it on an undock point exactly. Flyby sniping someone camping your station on an undock point is just sublime in its satisfaction. Just make sure you don’t have your snipe ship in the same station!
The biggest danger to the flyby sniper is a probing ship. You may run across a time where once of your alpha or beta points is broken by a covert operations ship. Repairing the bookmark is easy. Simply warp to the opposite bookmark (so if beta is broken, warp to alpha) and then warp to the broken bookmark. As soon as you come out of warp accelerate to keep going the same direction; don’t allow your ship to slow down or the alignment will be messed up. Fly out some amount of distance you pick at random but at least off the grid from the broken bookmark and then mark the new spot. Keep in mind that the further you fly, the safer your bookmark will be.
One thing you don’t want to do is to make multiple flyby sets on a single gate. This can get confusing because the gang leader may not know which flyby points go with which alpha-beta sets. The resulting maneuver could land you on the gate at 0; distance 0, shields 0, armor 0 and structure 0 and respect 0. Flyby snipers are almost always engaging significantly superior forces and the last place you want ot be is on the gate. If to you get given bookmarks and you end up with multiple sets, I advise you to delete them all and remake them.
Organizing your Flyby Bookmarks
The best way to organize your bookmarks is to separate them into folders labeled with the system and location of the flyby points. I call all my folders something like the following:
X-7OMU @ L-TS8S
or if you have multiple Regions
[PURE BLIND]X-7OMU @ L-TS8S
This would be a set in x-7omu on the l-ts8s gate. This organization scheme will allow you to open only the folder associated with that snipe set and not get confused with other sets or scrolling and so on.
Adjusting Your Range
If for some reason you need to adjust your distance to the celestial on the fly (pun intended) use the power of geometry! You can increase your distance to target by warping to your radials at distance. For example:
Warping to the |-> h-01: Harroule [email protected] <-| might get you to a distance ~ 30km off the gate but using that same bookmark warp yourself to within 30km of that same bookmark and you will find your distance to the gate has increased to 37-41km as depicted in the diagram below.
Off Scan Alpha or Beta Flyby Points
As you are deciding where to create your Alpha point debate if you will want an off scan alpha for this set of bookmarks. One of the problems Flyby snipers sometimes encounter is that once they do the tactic once, the enemy are not willing to sit on the gate if they see a bunch of potential snipers in the scan range. Although this is a psychological victory itself, it does preclude getting kills. What you need is the element of surprise so that you can make that first strike before they even know you are there and there is a way to accomplish this with deadly precision.
We mitigate this problem by use of an off scan Alpha point. This is an additional alpha point that is off the range of the on board ship scanner (15 AU). Note that this point does not preclude the need to create the on scan alpha point as you will need that when warping out and back fast. It is merely an additional point beyond alpha but lined up with alpha.
To make the off scan alpha, place your ship at a celestial or mid-safe (remember how to make a mid-safe?) at least 15AU from the gate and book mark it. Now, warp down to the gate and align your ship back towards that bookmark (right click align to), full burn out to an acceptable alpha point (>2,000km). You can then warp to the gate and make the beta point, then back again for the subsequent radials - remember your clock orientation should be from the alpha point! When you are done you should have a set of BMs looking something like the diagram below:
Label your off scan alpha like the following. Please note the alignment is indicated to prevent someone misinterpreting this point as a second set of flybys on the gate.
|-> MHC**A: Harroule @15au <-| % MHC*A
Remember Flyby tactics will work best when you have on grid eyes on the target giving you direction on where to come in from and if the target is still on the gate, remember you are off scan but they are off your scan now as well! The beauty of the off-scan tactical is that it gives the enemy little chance to react. If you are doing flybys in destroyers, the targets will have about 5 seconds to detect you on scan, decide what to do and do it. It is very likely you will be able to strike your first target and maybe another before they withdraw. They may panic when they see you on the overview and all jump. That should be seen as a significant psychological victory. The more capability you have for alpha strike kills, the better the results will be. A gang of 40 tech 2 destroyers versus a 20-interceptor gang could make four casualties in the first 10 seconds of the engagement.
Flyby Snipe Engagements
Combined with other long range ships, the flyby tactic can be devastating to the enemy. Consider a scenario where the enemy has a large scale mixed gang on the gate and you have a mixed fleet of flyby snipers. In your gang you have 10 tech 2 destroyers, some tech 2 battleships that can hit at 200km and 4 Specialized EWAR cruisers. The enemy gang sees you on scan coming from your off scan alpha with only a few seconds to spare. When you appear on their overview 1 Crow and a Blackbird die within the first 10 seconds. The frig gets fried by the destroyers and the cruiser by the battleships. Their Rokh and other long range ships try to target your fleet only to find that the EWAR cruisers waited to let them get a shot off and be aggressed and then damped or tracking disrupted them all. By this time the gate camper’s Vagabond is nearly approaching your destroyers but it is summarily jammed. The snipe fleet hits one more interceptor and another cruiser and warps off.
In this engagement the snipe ships lost nothing and took out 2 cruisers and 2 tech 2 interceptors in a matter of a few seconds. The gate campers are likely in shock wondering what happened. This is an example of a Flyby Snipe engagement, specifically a layered engagement. Flyby snipe engagements last longer than simple flybys and require combined arms coordination. Also, even though engagements are typically over the target longer times, it is important that they still maintain full speed to avoid getting tackled.
This is a type of engagement where the snipers operate at their respective optimal ranges from the targets. The destroyers go in at their optimal as do the cruisers and battleships. The snipe engagement is in layers above the gate with the bigger ships in a position to protect the smaller ships and the smaller ships in a position to snipe anything fast and small that tries to get a mini-warp on the big ships.
In this engagement, the snipers all warp in at the max range of their largest sniper. The smaller ships then monitor any approaching targets and pop them before they can get in range of the large ships. Popping an interceptor closing is tricky because if you lock him when he is in your optimal he will get to you before you can kill him. Its best to lock him as soon as you can and risk missing volleys at longer range. Needless to say, the destroyers escorting need to be able to target a long way. This type of engagement is best suited to an enemy with lots of battleships or mid-range ships and few lighter ships.
Additional Notes Regarding Gang Leadership
Gang leadership in flybys is challenging because of the need to fly your own ship as well as call targets, navigate and so on. A mistake made by a gang leader, such as flying back to the alpha instead of out to the beta, can get snipers killed. For this reason we have added some tips for leading snipe gangs.
First of all, know the optimal of your pilots and set them up for that. If a pilot can get 80km but your average pilot is looking at a 50km optimal, see if the 80km pilot can switch out some range for damage (such as changing a tracking enhancer for magnetic field stabilizer).
One trick to keep straight where you are going is to use a visual cue. When at your alpha or beta you can open or close a window that will indicate which point is next. For example we can say “local open means go to alpha whereas local closed means go to beta. This visual cue can help since you set it when at the alpha or beta points when you are relatively unoccupied. Some might object to using local chat for this but I would point out that you need to have someone else watching local for you anyway and that window cant be closed accidentally.
Another trick is to use spotters. A spotter is a person in your gang designated to locate and call targets. They have the responsibility of locating a target with filtered overview settings. This allow you to watch the entire enemy to make sure no one is closing on your fleet.
The learning of flyby sniping is only the start of the tactic. Like all other good tactics, there are a wealth of variations, aspects and nuances that make the technique powerful. You always have to open your mind to the possibilities.