The Squadron Effect
The state of play in the current PVP atmosphere of eve is a macrocosm of the lone gank ship - the gank fleet. If a battleship can pop a cruiser in ten seconds, ten battleships should be able to do the same to one, and it works. When two fleets collide, it's a rush for both sides to target one enemy and let loose all hell on them. All things being equal, the bigger fleet usually wins out by sheer force of numbers. Why is this?

The first thing to understand is that concentrating fire on one target scales perfectly. Having two identical battleships attack a target deals twice as much as having just one of them attack it. In a theoretical fleet engagement with ten identical ships per side with ten identical pilots, everything is equal and either side could come out on top. Assuming the sips are running any kind of tank, which is reasonable in any situation, if one side concentrated fire on one ship at a time and the other side attacked one enemy ship each, the side that concentrated fire would win hands down.

That's because a single tank can only do so much. If one ship can tank 200 Damage Per Second and deal 300 Damage Per Second, each ship can tank 2/3 of the damage being dealt from one opponent. Anything after that is dealt as damage. If two ships attacked one, the damage dealt would be 600 DPS and the damage tanked would still only be 200, making for a higher percentage of damage getting through the tank. Needless to say, all ships targetting one ship will take them out pretty fast.

So that's why people concentrate fire. There has been talk of a nerf coming in to make damage from multiple targets suffer a stacking penalty, an idea I support as it would extend battle times and make tanking more pivotal to PVP.

So what's this squadron effect all about? Well, I first considered it when I thought of the rammifications of a nerf to concentrated fire. Essentially, groups would no longer be able to gain full benefit from all attacking one target and so, all things being equal, a group concentrating all their ships on one would be worse off than one splitting their ships into squadrons. The size of the squadrons would be determined by how many ships could be attacking before the nerf really kicked in. Of course, the concnetrated fire nerf is idle speculation, it hasn't made it into the game yet and might not ever make it in.

In modern combat terms, the squadron effect does not exist but some of the ideas it suggests to me can still work in a limited capacity. First and foremost, as you can see in the image above and the image to the right, is the squadron tank. The idea is simple. If your enemy can concentrate fire, then you can concentrate repairing. Above is the basic design of a squadron tank. Each white dot represents a ship, most likely a battleship. Each green line represents a remote repairer. Every ship will run its own repairer and an equivalent size class of remote repairer on an assigned buddy throughout the fight.

This more than doubles tankability of every ship at the expense of some capacitor, so luxuries like afterburners and tracking computers go out in favour of capacitor rechargers. Targets must be chosen appropriately so that you can still take them out without tracking computers etc so the system does require more scalation of resources - some frigate defence or drone defence is very useful for taking out the frigates and cruisers you might not be able to hit but a lack of it is not so forgiving.

Above shows how the formation changes when the topright (the one with the red dot in it) is attacked. The trick is that each squadron member must have every other squadron member locked at all times, requiring good Targetting skill, a ship with a large max locked targets and squad sizes to be small enough that they can target all members of the squad and at least one enemy. When the enemy concentrate fire on one person, you can concentrate repairing on him. Note that he isn't remote repairing anyone else. He could be if needed but the energy may not be availible if he is being nossed.

To the left is an example of how the repair structure would work if two people are targetted. Each targetted person in this example is getting the effect of four repairers (one standard repairer and three remote repairers). The logistics of organising this would require Teamspeak, good command structure and a good bit of practice but it's not impossible.

We may see squadrons of intersupported ships in small engagements but until a nerf to concentrated fire is implemented, I don't think any of this will make its way into large scale combats and fleet engagements. However, if you've ever wanted to double your tanking capacity in order to camp a gate in empire and tank the sentries, now's your chance to experiment with squadron tanking. The high capacitor requirements make it a difficult task to fit for but it works and it works well.

Crazy talk? Or the future of gang warfare? We'll see..

-- Nyphur

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