Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:38 pm
Logging in to reply for the first time in a while.
Formations that fall below a certain numerical threshold cease to be combat effective formations, and the individual units within those formations should break off and run until they find a safe spot to regroup and rejoin the fight, if that's even what they want to do anymore. Safe could mean deep space or close to one of their larger friends with bigger guns, but hopefully that adds some ideas for how to solve the dynamic fleet structuring issue.
I can describe a few scenarios from my time commanding fleets in EVE, from most fragile to least fragile compositions:
1) You're flying a fleet comp where formation and composition is critical, like "snatchfleet" or "blink fleet," both of which make use of micro-jump fields with a small (6km) radius. All ships need to be within that radius of the ship doing the micro jump. Any ship out of that radius gets left behind when the jump occurs, and must then warp out, burn off, or be destroyed like the sitting duck it is. In this case, as long as the ships stay close together and don't die too quickly, they can stay on field and apply damage for quite a while. Drop below a certain number of micro jumpers or dps ships, however, and they have to retreat and regroup collectively, at which point decisions about re-engagement can be made.
2) You're in a kiting comp, like Orthruses, Omens, 100MN Tengus, etc. The ideal conditions for this comp have each ship speeding in roughly the same direction - say, towards the sun or a stargate. Any quick ships trying to give chase and pin these kiters down have to spend a good deal of time catching up while in range of the kiters' guns, and the kiters love nothing more than for people to chase in a straight line. As kiters are caught or forced into bad positions, they individually have to warp out - but as long as the fleet is still kiting, individuals can warp back in to a kiter and rejoin the formation. Once the kiters' escape vectors begin to narrow, or the kiters lose too many ships, the remaining kiters will scatter and regroup.
3) You're in a ship-of-the-line comp. In EVE, once a battleship fleet commits to a fight, it'll get bubbled and held down for quite a while. With long range guns, the battleships intend to stick around and apply damage across the field until they can't break enemy ships or until objectives are won or lost. Individual ships that attempt to break ranks and flee, or that get caught out in a bad position, don't usually have much of an opportunity to rejoin the fight unless the entire fleet breaks free to reposition and re-engage. These formations, however, can spread out in lines, balls, arcs, etc. and still have the range to cover each other and coordinate fire on targets, so the formation can get pretty loose and still be very effective.
Battleship fleets almost always have groups of support ships that behave independently. The healers, for example, will usually follow a healing anchor, who keeps the healers at a nice distance from the friendly battleships, and tries to keep enemies as far away as possible. Tacklers, such as interceptors and interdictors, are fairly autonomous and don't form up all that much, though I'm sure LT will look a bit different. You can also have electronic warfare support wings, who look to dance in and out of battlefields and cause as much chaos as possible until someone looks at them funny, and other disruptors like interdictors and command destroyers, who want to break apart enemy formations or keep them from retreating - they are often fairly suicidal and individual or paired-up roles. In each case, the smaller support groups rely on the presence of the ships of the line. The healers almost never cut and run because they're useless at defending themselves anyway; the tacklers and disruptors, on the other hand, are happy to run as soon as something big comes to chew on them. In almost every case, anything that runs from a smaller fight that's happening in the context of a large battle will try to communicate with its fleet to choose a new re-engagement point, where it can meet up with its friendlies and re-establish its formation in a relatively safe part of the field.
Spacecredentials: looks at stars sometimes, cheated at X-Wing vs TIE Fighter, killed a titan once.