The traditional way to start a newbie on fleet PVP, fast tackle seems to be both beloved and hated by fleet commanders. Sometimes called “Hero tackle” or “suicide tackle”, fast tackle has a set of virtues and vices all its own – but one of its biggest virtues, cheap, easily fit, easily flown ships that get newbies out there and fighting becomes a vice all too easily.
Now, a disclaimer – I haven’t flown a lot of Tech 1 fast tackle in nullsec or lowsec. When I have flown fast tackle it’s been interceptors far more often than not. I had over 30 million skill points when I joined BRAVE and even when money was short I could afford to fly interceptors, or I flew mainline doctrine. There may be a certain lack of sympathy here for not walking in someone else’s shoes.
The newbie’s introduction to fast tackle usually comes in an attack frigate. The Atron seems (in my subjective impression; I have no statistics on the matter) most popular, but any of the 4 will do. Cheaply fit with meta 0 modules, the newbie can be flying this tiny machine in combat in under 24 hours. Only four modules actually matter; the propulsion module, generally a microwarp drive, the warp disruptor or scrambler, and the damage control that provides the only meaningful tank the ship has. There is likely to be a web as well. Guns are largely irrelevant unless the entire fleet is fast tackle – the ship’s main weapon is its point or scram. Rigs may not even be present due to their cost and the additional skills needed on the newbie’s ship. Tanking modules may be irrelevant; lacking in the agility and tanking skills of older pilots the newbie’s already-flimsy ship is not intended to survive long anyhow, and while a dead ship tackles nothing, trying to keep the newbie alive with his MWD blowing his signature radius up to unadulterated heights is likely to be futile. The newbie’s main defense is his irrelevancy; once heavier ships are on the field they rapidly seize the enemy’s attention.
Provided with this contraption, the newbie is instructed on how it works, and usually given a basic bit of instruction on how to employ it effectively (amounting to “get really close, target the enemy, orbit, and activate the point/web/scram”) sometimes with a pointer on the best technique (“spiral in! don’t fly straight at them”) and for very lucky newbies even a brief explanation of how to spiral. Giddy with the excitement of going on a fleet, the newbie undocks amid the splendor of his more powerful fleet mates, and off they roar!
Of course, the newbie is not expected to survive this experience, but chances are that he was given this ship, or ISK to purchase it, and chances are excellent he will be given another – and likely another and another and another, or possibly showered with money when he reveals that this 3 million ISK space jalopy takes 75% of the money in his wallet. He quickly learns that losing the Atron or the Slasher or the Executioner is really not a big deal, and there is always someone willing to help him get a new one. In the culture of EVE, this is a great victory! A newbie is excited, part of a team, and avoids the traps of either boredom or the dreaded ‘carebear’ status! He learns to fly what he can afford to lose, he HTFUs, and he can set about his career in lowsec or nullsec secure in the knowledge that he has something to do on the team.
Now, as the newbie progresses he’s pretty naturally pushed towards interceptors for their value as shuttles. Learning to fly interceptors is essentially mandatory in nullsec and might as well be in lowsec. The fast-align interceptor is a tool all in its own realm. The newbie also will start being aimed into other ships – EWAR of whatever type the alliance or coalition prefers, its destroyer, and its cruiser doctrine assuming it has them. He’ll start finding his preferred way of making money and learning what he wants to do besides getting space jalopys blown up in a ball of glorious fire.
But, depending on a lot of factors, the newbie may come down with Fast Tackle Disease.
This can come from a lot of things. Maybe he lost a lot of ratting ships early to raiders. Maybe he just has a hard time finding a money making scheme that works for him. Maybe that 50 million for the Harpy on contract is really hard to get together – even if he gets SRP for it, he still has to get the first one. Maybe it just feels like it’s taking forever to train up all these support skills and damn it he really just wants to branch out into non-combat things.
The next thing you know, this newbie is in game a year, and every time the fleet call goes out there he still is in the Atron. – whether it’s needed or not, because while a lot of fleets need that cheap fast tackle, quite a few don’t. But man.. that Atron is just so cheap, and who cares if I lose it? The FC needs DPS, yeah, but damn it Small Hybrids V is just such a loooong train and I won’t get SRP without the Tech 2 guns… oh yeah, and I’m fast, so I can loot the field! I mean, an interceptor is fast too, but why fly that when I could be flying an Atron that costs 3 million fit rather than 30 million for the hull alone out here in the ass end of nullsec.
The former newbie has contracted Fast Tackle Disease, and if you ever want him out of that Atron it’ll be the devil to pay! Doesn’t he realize this is a CTA and you don’t need that much tackle; you need him in a rail Tengu, damn it because Black Legion is about to reinforce another I-Hub! You have plenty of dictors and ceptors and no you stupid fuck I don’t need suicide tackle!
Of course, there’s another form of the disease, because chances are pretty good that newbie likes that interceptor shuttle too, and heck, he can already fly them.. and if he’s doing well with money maybe 30 or 40 or even 50 million with all the trimmings isn’t so bad. He’s probably seen what interceptors can do too, both from fleetmates and being on the wrong end of them.
Unfortunately, the longer it took him to get into interceptors the more likely he is to fly them like tackle frigates. Interceptors, though, each have their own personality, and that LML Crow is not flown the same way as the blaster Taranis. The MWD sig bonus is a huge advantage, and makes piloting technique much more worthwhile. Most people will eventually learn, but habits are hard to break.
But if that’s overcome, and the interceptor displaces the Atron or Slasher in the hanger, it’s even harder to dislodge if that interceptor carries Fast Tackle Disease with it. That interceptor is so fast, and so convenient to fly, so easy to come and go and catch up, or head back when you have to log off, and not that expensive.
And the next thing you know, it’s a POS-bashing fleet and you have 20 people in interceptors when you really need about 4. There’s Fast Tackle Disease in there.
There’s nothing wrong with flying fast tackle, or interceptors, but there’s a time and place for it, and everyone can’t just hop into it because they don’t want to train or risk larger ships. Be able to fly something else, even if it’s only assault frigates. A Harpy makes a much better fill-in if you can’t fly a Tengu than a Crow or an Atron does.