Flyby Sniping Maneuvers in PvP
- 1 The Flyby Maneuver
- 2 Dissecting the Flyby
- 3 Planning your Fleet: Commanding a Sniping Gang
- 4 Ships and Fitting Considerations for Flyby Maneuvers
The Flyby Maneuver
One of the most dangerous things in 0.0 at the moment are the Interdictor fired Warp Disruption Probes, the Heavy Interdictors Mobile Warp Disruption Field and the deployed Mobile Warp Disruptors (collectively called bubbles). These pieces of equipment can seriously ruin the day of a frigate fleet since it forbids them the essential ability to decline an engagement and can land them just off a gate in serious peril. When hitting a bubble with a 15 member frigate fleet, the gang commander can reasonably expect to lose at least 20% of the gang before he can realign them and get them out. Furthermore, should a frigate fleet take casualties, a bubble can prevent the new ships from rejoining the fleet. Clearly we need to have a way to handle these bubbles. The classic ways to handle such a camp are to either wait until they get bored, which is impractical due to it making that route off limits, or to collect a superior force and hit them head on, causing them to abandon the camp. However, this can sometimes be practically impossible if there are not enough ships to be found. This all leads us to developing alternative tactics.
A flyby maneuver takes advantage of the fact that ships instawarp if they are moving at full speed and are aligned with what they are warping to. The basic idea is that the flyby is constructed by warping from one bookmark a short distance away from the gate, sniping the targets on the gate, and warping to another bookmark on the other side of the gate. The key to the flyby maneuver is that the pilots must maintain speed when they exit the warp, otherwise they will have the dubious honor of watching everyone else in the fleet warp away, closely followed by an explosion and the sight of a pod.
Whenever a pilot exits the warp there is some delay when the pilot sees the word "warping" on the speed bar but the enemy can already see them moving in. Until the "warping" word goes away, the ships controls are effectively locked, forbidding the pilot from changing anything. As soon as the word "warping" goes away the pilot can maneuver or fire weapons or jump.
In the flyby maneuver the pilot watches the speed bar and when they can a maneuver they first click anywhere on the speed bar then click on maximum speed to maintain full velocity – this is to circumvent a bug which sometimes occurs where the ship does not accelerate after hitting the full speed button. After the pilot has set their speed, they target the opponent designated by gang command and then fire on that target until either the target is destroyed or the gang commander warps everyone out again. The flyby pilot should have all weapons and EWAR automatically cycled before hand so that killing the ship is an instant matter once targeted. The full fly-by cycle is depicted below.
As you can see the ships in the fleet warp in, engage the target from range and warp out before the enemy can respond effectively. The gang leader has set up six bookmarks in this example, two set far off the gate and in a straight line with the gate and four around the gate on a plane perpendicular to the line connecting the gate and the first two bookmarks. This allows the attacking ships to come in on one bookmark and miss the bubble, then engage the target and come in on another bookmark away from the ships that may be trying to fly up to where the team appeared before. In this manner the flyby ships can pop things on the gate and ships that came to intercept them at the previous bookmark.
When executing the flyby maneuver it is critical that the gang commander doesn't spend too much time on target or the enemy will be able to send fast moving ships into the area and drop a bubble on the attackers or engage them with warp scramblers. Remember that any ship that gets within 20km of your fleet is a likely tackler.
Dissecting the Flyby
Setting up the Flyby
Obviously the flyby maneuver takes a bit of planning before it can be executed. You need a minimum of 6 bookmarks to execute the maneuver safely. If you have only one flyby point near the gate, you risk the enemy coming back and sitting there waiting for you when you make another pass. Two points is cutting it too close, especially since part of the strategy is projecting an air of invulnerability on the flyby fleets part. Since the gate points are not hard to set up, you may as well do 4 at the same time.
The two points of our cone from the flyby diagram in are called Alpha and Beta. These points sit on a line that goes through the gate, effectively aligning them all. Making these points is a fairly simple task. Take an interceptor or any other fast frigate (Vigils work really well for this)and fly off in a random direction from the gate. You want to make your angles such that your future flyby points do not lay aligned with any celestial object or you could have problems. Once you get at least 2000km from the gate, you can mark Alpha; you want to make the bookmark so far away so that the flyby ships are not on the grid and the trajectory between the flyby points around the gate and the Alpha/Beta points is almost flat; the idea being that the ships will only have to change minuscule amounts of angle to exit. You also want to make sure that the points are far enough away that the participating ships can fly full speed at the gate (without AB or MWD on) for several minutes at least. With the same, if the points are too far away, you give the enemy more time between each flyby to prepare.
After the alpha point is set then you can move to make the beta points. Simply take your interceptor/fast frigate and warp directly at the gate. Once you get to the gate, hold the angle as close to where you landed as possible, don't maneuver the ship, and fly right past the gate. Don't use MWD or AB until you pass the gate because if you bounce off the gate structure it will alter the angle of your beta point and cause your flyby point to be unaligned. Keep flying straight ahead until you reach 2000km and mark that spot as beta. Now, turn around and warp back to alpha, making sure you pass either through the gate or at very near it on the way. The alpha and beta points are key to making this maneuver work, so it is important they are correct. You've just created the backbone of the Flyby maneuver!
Once you have the alpha and beta points it is time to make the "flyby points" or radials. Warp to the gate from your alpha point and then fly until your ship is nearly on the gate. Then turn your camera perpendicular to your ship and fly away from the gate along that line until you are at least 300 km off the gate. Mark this point and now you can start mini-warping to the gate to make the flyby points. Set your first bookmark at 50km, second at 70km, third at 100km fourth at 150km and fifth at 240km. Repeat the process and make additional sets on different "o'clock" settings from your alpha point. The bookmarks should be as perpendicular to the alpha-beta point line as possible but it doesn't have to be exact.
The naming convention for the bookmarks is simple with the gate coded first and then the flyby bookmarks listed below them; you should never have more than one shared flyby route on a gate (only one Alpha and Beta). We place asterisks next to the Alpha and Beta points to ensure when we sort by name they appear at the top of our list for quick access. We then assign a numeric value to each bookmark, again to assist in the ordering. Additionally, we like to increment the sort indicator by 10 or 20 as we work our way around the clock positions.
Alpha/Beta Naming Convention Legend: |-> <Current System>_<Sort Indicator>: <Celestial Flyby's are based on> @ <Distance in KM> <-|
Radial Points Naming Convention Legend: |-> <Current System>_<Sort Indicator 0-99>: <Celestial Flyby's are based on> <clock position> @ <Distance in KM> <-|
- |-> MHC *A: Harroule @2000 <-|
- |-> MHC *B: Harroule @2000 <-|
- |-> MHC 00: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 01: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 11: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 12: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 20: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 21: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 30: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
- |-> MHC 31: Harroule: [email protected] <-|
The first two bookmarks denote the alpha (*A) and beta (*B) points of the flyby pattern. The next four are all made a 12 o'clock relative to the gate – also called 0 hours. The next four are at 6 o'clock and so on. The o'clock number comes from looking at the flyby point relative to warping into the gate from the alpha point. Keep in mind that if you have flyby points that are more than 150km away from the gate the enemy will be able to mini-warp up to you if they happen to get a tackler near you, which is very bad indeed since you have little to no way of defending yourself at close range. Furthermore, the o'clock position of the flyby point is indicated just before the distance from the gate. The below diagram may help to describe how we view the clock positions.
Regarding your radial interval distances - there are no standard distances you MUST have to make a fly-by work, that is defined only by the targeting and distances to which your ship(s) can apply DPS. Build your own standard intervals - use what works for your gang!
Pilot Mistakes Made in Flybys
Not maintaining speed is the most dangerous thing you can do in a flyby maneuver. If you don't maintain speed you could be slow warping out and any interceptor ships that come up can tackle causing lost ships. The first thing you and your gang should do before you lock the target is to fix your speed. In a flyby maneuver remember speed first, target later.
Spending too much time looking for the target is another major mistake. This is caused by failing to have your overview set to filter out all but the type of ship that you are looking. In general the FC will call for adjustments to your overview based on what your Cov-ops is seeing and calling. Flyby snipers are usually targeted at a specific class of ship on each round or pass. Dependent on your Fleet Commander make sure to in advance sort your overview by name or ship type so that finding a called target is easy.
When it comes to target selection, you want to select targets that are the most costly to the other fleet and the most annoying to your fleet. Interdictors are first on the agenda because of the danger they pose. Interceptors will be second because of their cost and fragility. Assault frigates will be third and so on. You may also want to put mobile warp disruptors high on the list because these represent significant uninsured loss to the opponent. Podding characters known to be high skill point chars is also good idea, although remember pods take a while to target. The psychological aspect of flyby sniping is even more important than the ISK loss, since they are loosing a large amount of ships with no effective way of retaliating. Keep this in mind, go for likely gang leaders to throw the enemy into complete chaos and so on.
When doing flybys make sure that you use your intel to maximum value. Get a covops spotter if you can, but make sure they stay well clear due to the amount of hardware flying around. Also use the scanner and be alert. If ships come out to tackle you at a previous flyby spot then you can either choose another spot around the gate or flyby further from the gate and try to pop the tackler. Popping the Interdictor or interceptor tackler is a great way to dissuade them from coming after you.
Overview Settings for Flybys
The secret to the overview on a successful flyby is to know your target and to filter it out from all the other chaff in the overview. You will want to create settings that will filter out targets you aren't interested in. Note that you will probably need battleship snipers to flyby alpha-strike kill a cruiser that is piloted by someone conscious.
As mentioned before, support ships in flybys will want to have only heavies filtered in.
All settings should filter out drones (unless you are flyby sniping some poor fool's tech 2s) and anything else in the system. This will make your targeting much easier (including the gate, as hitting that can be rather embarrassing as well as damaging the firepower in that pass). You should also have the tag column visible and your overview sorting by tag in the case of working with a recon pilot.
Executing the Maneuver
If you execute the flyby maneuver and an interceptor comes up to attempt to tackle your ships, you can not come back in on the same vector. You might want to try a different vector (not necessarily the opposite side of the gate) to hit the ships on the gate again or the interceptor itself, removing the threat entirely and freeing up all your vectors again. Of course, you might try coming in even higher on the same vector to snipe the interceptor that came out to tackle you the first time, giving anyone coming after you something to think about.
What you definitely don't want to do is to spend too much time over a target. Sniping battleships on the gate can lock your ships and hurt them extremely if you do. A cruiser with damps and damp bonuses and a good pilot will give you more time over the target because he will be able to neutralize the battleships that can snipe using the scan resolution scripts. However, what you are looking for is to kill the target with the first strike or at least the second strike rather than sitting up there a long time. If you can't get the target into structure in two volleys, ignore the target in future passes (unless you are out of targets)
When you see ships coming after your fleet, it is time to get out fast and to come in on another vector to aggravate their fleet. You want to be in control of the situation and make the fleet on the gate frantic. They will have a lot harder time getting pilots to come camp in their Interdictors if the pilots keep losing this hardware (Sabre pilots especially, who have a habit of loading their ship with juicy faction goods).
Planning your Fleet: Commanding a Sniping Gang
When you plan your gang, make sure that you have at least 6 optimal snipers per target. An optimal sniper is a pilot of a ship using tech 2 guns and ammo. Each tech 1 sniper can only count for a third of an optimal sniper. The more optimal snipers you have, the better. Alpha-striking a target is the ultimate objective on each run, due to the devastating effect it has on the person you hit (both in ship loss and morale).
Gang Leadership in Flybys
Gang leadership in the flyby maneuver is a busy thing. You have to not only make snap decisions about where the enemy is, which flyby point to use, and what targets to engage, you also have to manage your own weapons and speed. It can be a very busy experience. The biggest decision you will have to make is what to shoot at and where to come in at. If you haven't done it before, I suggest practicing on an empty gate with either a couple of corp mates or just talking to yourself and, if you get thrown in at the deep end, it can be worthwhile not firing your own weapons at all so you can concentrate on driving the gang.
Using Recon Ships with Flybys
A covops ship spotting for flybys can be priceless, as it allows the gang know the target slightly in advance of firing. The covert ops char can be given gang lead and then name the targets in order, which is especially important in situations with lots of targets.
The covops pilot should be sitting at somewhere on the grid of the gate and a general line with the alpha and beta points. This will allow the covops pilot to determine if interdictors or interceptors are being sent up to tackle your next pass. Furthermore, the covops pilots can report on successes, direct the gang to new vectors and generally be useful.
A flyby participant may also take the role of close cover ship. This is a ship that is not designed to snipe but rather to support the snipers and protect them from interceptors approaching the sniping fleet. The ideal ship for this is a destroyer or medium range fitted assault ship. These ships may either fly in with the snipers to provide support or be ready to warp in when the interceptors come up to tackle the snipers. This tactic can be an especially deadly aspect of combined arms.
Another potential ship for a flyby maneuver is a flyby support ship. This ship is designed as a ship with a massive amount of ewar on it designed to neutralize battleships that can counter snipe against your flyby.
When it comes to cruiser support a Celestis pilot with Signal Suppression skill at level 4 and cruiser at level 4 will get a 40% bonus to sensor dampener strength; with 5 dampeners he will seriously hurt the people he damps. A Blackbird pilot will be able to seriously hurt the enemy as well with his ability to fit multiple jammers and use them at a long range.
When it comes to support battleships, the Scorpion is deadly because of its jamming bonuses. The Dominix has some use due to the large amount of midslots, but generally speaking cruisers are more useful in the support role than battleships.
When flying support in a flyby you will be enormously busy. The recon team will have located the potential sniping battleships and you will be charged to get the EWAR on them. Ideally you will only need to target one target but sometimes that wont be possible and you will be locking 3 or four targets. For example we can consider the celestis ship damping the battleships.
The Celestis pilot cycles two damps. When the warp ends, he targets his first opponent and that automatically damps him while the pilot is resetting his speed to max. Then he quickly clicks on the second two dampeners and clicks on the second target. Your primary targets will be the cruisers, HACs and battleships so you can create an overview setting to remove all other ships.
Ships and Fitting Considerations for Flyby Maneuvers
Flyby maneuver ships are generally set up to snipe. The more range you can get in your flyby team, the more power and safety you will have in the maneuver. However, these ships don't travel well, thus why the tactic is more apt for a defensive posture than offense. They can't reasonably engage at close range and they can't decline an engagement as easily as a normal setup. For this reason you will probably want them staged past the choke points in some place where wolfpack pilots(or another section of your fleet) can get at them fairly fast.
The best ships for flybys are the sniping versions of the ships in Eve. For instance the Moa and Cormorant both get bonus to optimal ranges of their guns and that gives them excellent capability in a flyby. A tech 2 fitted Cormorant with 150mm tech 2 rails and spike ammo can shoot 70 to 80km accurately. The Moa can do this with tech 1 250mm rails and reach out to 100km and beyond with tech 2 rails. Both of these represent low cost solutions that aren't too hard on the budget should you get counter sniped. Sniping battleships are also reasonable ships to take in a flyby but the risk invested is much higher. Their fittings are similar to those of the sniping cruisers and these ships should also be already past the chokes as getting them past the gate camp will be impossible.
Signal amps in the low slots increase targeting speed and targeting range of the ship whereas weapon upgrades like tracking enhancers can increase your optimal range and your tracking. Damage modules are also useful in the lows to increase overall damage. Micro Auxiliary Power Cores will let you fit those lovely weapons rigs with ease!
When it comes to mid slots you will need one or more sensor boosters (with range scripts up to the optimal range of your guns, then targeting speed scripts) to obtain lock at the required distance. In addition to these modules, the flyby sniper will also want to fit one or more target painters to increase the chance of destruction, as well as tracking computers (optimal range scripts) to increase range.
As for high slots you want the biggest, longest range guns you can fit and as many as you can fit. Don't spare the grid here as these are your most important asset. If you happen to have grid left over cruisers and battleships might choose to fit large or medium neutralizers to empty the cap of anyone sent up after them. Note that missiles are not used in flybys because the time they take to get to the target negates their effectiveness. When choosing an ammo and setting up range of your guns, make sure you have the range set to the level of the ship in the fleet that can shoot the shortest distance. The reason for this is that you will not be doing flybys from further out than the lowest ship's optimal so you will not need that kind of range and you can maximize your damage with more powerful ammunition. When coming to join a flyby fleet or forming one, you should ask what range to set up for and the flight commander will tell you.
Now that rigs are quite affordable for smaller craft to equip use them to round out your Flyby ship with rigs that will increase your optimal, decrease your align time, increase your agility, or even give you more grid to equip modules that perform the above.
Flyby Support Fitting Considerations
The flyby support ships are those that are best at fitting sensor dampeners and ECM jammers as well as at least one sensor booster to target fast. Remember that you will spend very small amounts of time on target so you shouldn't need to worry about maintaining your EWAR indefinitely. Instead fill your lows with signal amplifiers and anything else you need. As for your highs you can feel free to take a potshot at the ship you are support damping/jamming but actually targeting your damping/jamming ship and the flyby target will be quite hard to do. You might want to put on some remote shield and armor repairers for people that get tagged because they will not have a bit of tank.