Opinion: Plexing in Faction War
Author: Wendi Wu, Amarr Militia
As someone involved in FW, I found the letters by Almity and Urik Kahn on Sov Wars very interesting. I don’t fly in the big fleets all that often, so I don’t know much about the big fleet movements. On the other hand, the comment about plexes is something I DO know something about, and I think I know why it seems to Urik that so few fights happen in plexes nowadays.
The best way to explain it is to tell the story of one of my days in FW. All of this happened on Sunday, July 10th.
I log on right after downtime. My home system is Asghed, in the Devoid region. It used to be peaceful, but recently the Minmatar have invaded. I know they show up every day right after downtime, so I scan down a minor plex, move my Slicer in, and wait.
Sure enough, less than five minutes later Annah Kitheran shows up in a Daredevil and warps in. I know that the Daredevil will be faction fit with a faction web, making it very unlikely that I’ll be able to kill it, but I figure I might be able to drive it away. To my surprise I succeed, the Daredevil briefly chasing me then warping off as soon as it loses its shields.
Annah calls in backup: three other minnies in Thrashers and Xelianthe, a Loki booster alt, before re-entering the plex. I know the odds are hopeless, but engage the Daredevil anyway. Due to the Loki boosts my Slicer gets webbed, scrammed, and killed.
I head back to base, reship, and come back. I’ve called for backup, but most Amarr Militia members aren’t online yet, and those that are aren’t too keen on an obviously lopsided fight. The two brave souls who show up anyway are Mystical Might in a Slicer and Cryloud in a Thorax. By the time we get in system there are 6 Minnies waiting in the plex to engage us. Okay then. We move into the second minor plex in system and start running the timer while the Thorax stays outside.
The Minnies finish the first plex, warp to the second, and their whole fleet runs quickly past the Thorax and avoids engaging it, leaving me and Mystical against 3 Thrashers, a Firetail, a Hookbill, and a Daredevil, all with boosts. We do our best, but it’s impossible odds and we both have to warp out.
Meanwhile the Thorax pilot is jeering at the Minnies in local for running away. They just laugh: they’re not here for a fight. Finally after 5 minutes of smack-talk in local and after receiving further reinforcements, the Minnies bring their boosted 8-ship fleet out to fight the Thorax. The results are predictable.
There’s nothing we can do, so we wait for the Minnies to finish the timer, which they do, and leave.
It’s not a coincidence that the Minmatar fleet comes every day right after downtime. Their objective isn’t to get a fight, but to choke one off before it starts: they’re hoping to get all the plexes before any kind of fleet can be formed to engage them, meaning any fights they do get into will be easy ganks. By the time the Amarr fleet forms up, all the plexes in the Amarr contested systems have been taken.
I’m annoyed at this point, and figure I might as well return the favour. I’ll capture some Minnie plexes and if I’m lucky might get a decent fight along the way. I head off to the Arzad area and find a Minmatar minor plex in Ezzara. Surprise surprise, Annah Kitheran turns up in her Daredevil. Yeah, I’m not falling for that twice. I wait for her to get close, then warp off. There’s a gatecamp waiting for me in Arzad but I run it and head into the Tzvi area.
In Raa I find Sasawong’s alt, Sheltering Sky, running a minor plex, even though the system’s uncontested. From past experience I know Sasawong won’t fight without the odds significantly in his favour, so I warp in expecting Sheltering Sky to flee, which is exactly what happens. I sit on the timer and shoot NPCs, waiting for the Minnies to show up.
They do, just as the timer hits 9 minutes: Sasawong and Poultergoose. I’ve met Poultergoose before and know him to be more willing than most to engage solo, but as I check my D-scan I see that he’s showing up with Sasawong. They warp in together, and I engage Poultergoose briefly before his tracking disruptor prevents me from dealing further damage. I break range while Sasawong’s arty Thrasher takes potshots at me. Neither is speed fit, so they can’t catch me.
It’s frustrating because it’s so pointless. The two Minmatar pilots are obviously co-ordinating against my Slicer, but what are they expecting to DO? They can stop me damaging them, but they have no way to force me to engage. And the system isn’t contested, so even if they do the 19 minute wait to capture the plex, they won’t gain anything from it.
I head back to Ezzara and go back into the minor plex I was in before. The gatecamp is gone. Sasawong shows up again, and actually warps in on his own this time. It’s his arty Thrasher and a dozen or so NPCs against my Slicer. I start picking off the NPCs, but by the time I’ve taken almost all of them down my Slicer’s taken heavy damage and I know I’m unlikely to win. I warp off to Vard to repair. Sasa follows and waits on the Ezzara gate, and as I land back on the gate I see him jump through. I’d been intending to go back to the fight, but seeing that makes me stop and think. Judging from past experience, If Sasa’s that willing to fight, it means he thinks he can get an easy kill. I turn around and head back to Huola and through to Tzvi the long way. I’m learning.
The Tzvi area is quiet: no Minnies. Once I hit Lamaa I find out why: they’re all in a massive 20-strong frigate blob with Falcon and Rapier support engaging 3 Amarr ships. That ends about as you’d expect.
I run the Minnie camp, head back to the Tzvi-Oyeman area, and do some medium plexes. The Minnies don’t show up. A pirate Rifter does, though. Wait, no, a pirate Rifter and two cruisers. No, four cruisers. No, six – what the hell? I warp off and watch in bemusement as 10 pirate and neutral cruisers and AFs apparently hold a convention at the Minmatar Compound. After about 10 minutes they leave system and I finish the plex.
It’s late and I’m tired, so I head back towards Asghed, keeping an eye on intel for the location of the Minnie blob. On the way I find a pair of stealth bombers running a mission. Normally I don’t bother chasing SBs, but it’s been a dull day and I give it a shot. To my surprise, one of the two SBs doesn’t manage to warp out in time, and I tackle, shoot, and pop her.
The 10 million in loot means I end up not too far down from the Slicer loss. I log off and get some rest.
So, over a day’s worth of fighting in FW plexes, I had a total of 10 encounters. What’s the pattern?
Well, the most obvious thing is how few killmails/lossmails I ended up on. In nearly all of those encounters I was either heavily outnumbered or facing a much more powerful ship, so most of fights ended with me running away. On the couple of occasions where the odds weren’t significantly in their favour, the Minnies just left. The only time I was able to get an opponent to engage when the odds WEREN’T in their favour was by ambush – killing that unlucky Hound in Labapi.
So the reason plex battles tend not to happen very much these days is:
– The Minmatar plexing strategy is designed to make it as unlikely as possible that the Amarr will have a chance to form up a fleet in time to counter them. There aren’t many plex fights because they’re specifically trying to AVOID a fight.
– When the Minmatar do show up, they usually do so with overwhelming numbers and/or booster support. This gives the Amarr the choice of engaging at a disadvantage, or ignoring them. Most choose to ignore them.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all Minmatar pilots. In general I’ve noticed that the ‘fighting’ Minmatar as opposed to the ‘plexing’ Minmatar are more willing to engage, especially the ones that come down into the Kourmonen area. Minmatar pilots like Galdornae and Sumdumgi are much more willing to take on difficult fights, and unsurprisingly, are much more competent and dangerous pilots as a result.
Being outnumbered all the time has its advantages, though. You learn a lot more from flying solo against a gang than you do from trying to gank a lone target. Increasingly I’m finding that I can usually outmatch my opponents one on one, even the ones with more skill points than me.
So all in all – no complaints.