There are any number of different ways to describe a handful of combat pilots working together; gang, squad, wolf pack, etc. Because of the way Tuskers fly, I refer to a fleet of 2-5 Tuskers as a small gang.
A small gang is quite different from a formal fleet, at least in the Tuskers. Each pilot is free to roam as they see fit in a vaguely agreed direction, looking for fights. When a target is spotted, that Tusker makes a judgement call about whether to solo the target or call in the rest of the gang.
If a call for backup is made, the person making the call (and who is therefore on scene) is the default FC for the fight unless they hand the role over to a more experienced Tusker. If backup is not called for, the other Tuskers continue to roam while the engaged Tusker tries to take down the target.
In my admittedly limited experience, this is an excellent way to operate. With each pilot out looking for targets (rather than sitting on a gate or in a safe waiting for the FC to chart their course) it's fairly easy to find fights. It also allows Tuskers to move quite aggressively against targets they might otherwise avoid because backup is fairly close at hand. All told, it's a good balance between mutual support and independent action. Of course, it only works if each member of the gang is capable of operating solo; hence the Tusker's entry requirements.
It was working in one of these small gangs when I spotted group of ships on D-scan; an Arbitrator, two Rifters and another cruiser, which I think was a Thorax (although I am prepared to be corrected on this point).
This was obviously a case where backup was needed, but as the fleet (they were moving as a unit) had been jumping from celestial to celestial, I did not want to risk them getting away, so I jumped in immediately rather than wait for the slower battle cruisers to arrive.
I landed almost right on top of them and decided that the Arbitrator was the one that I most wanted to see on a killmail. Hitting with him with my scram, I saved my web for the drones that I knew he would be launching, and fired my rockets (loaded with faction Foxfire) to encourage him to send them out.
The gang's reaction surprised me. The Arbitrator, obviously, was not going anywhere, so he launched his drones and started neuting me. The Thorax also lumbered about and started giving me a broadside or two. The Rifters, however, bugged out. What they were thinking, I don't know, but despite the overwhelming odds in their favour, they immediately decided to get out.
Fortunately for me, this started a bit of a fail cascade, as it caused the Thorax to rethink its position. This I could understand; while most combat pilots will respond to violence with violence, a moment's thought would suggest that assault frigates don't typically jump into small fleets unsupported unless they are expecting backup to be arriving. A quick look at the corps in local would easily confirm that I was not alone, so when the Thorax left, I think he was making a judgement call rather than just acting on instinct.
I say "fortunately for me", because the Arbitrator pilot was good. I've attacked drone ships before, and the difference between a casual drone pilot and dedicated drone pilot is significant. In addition to dedicating skill points to drone dps skills, he'd obviously taken some drone durability skills, because I was having a really hard time even killing his drones (in fact, I stopped targeting them altogether and started shooting at him). He'd also timed his neut cycles perfectly; no sneaking repper cycles in against this pilot.
As I watched my armor drop alarmingly, I was very glad to see Konig and equincu warp in and open fire. The Arbitrator fought the good fight but, abandoned by his colleagues, his ship folded before he could finish me off.
Victim: Vamun Re
Corp: Kagan-Kincaid Enterprises
Alliance: Subspace Exploration Agency
Damage Taken: 6691
Name: Konig Dreizehn (laid the final blow)
Corp: The Tuskers
Weapon: 425mm AutoCannon II
Damage Done: 1005
Name: equincu ocha
Corp: The Tuskers
Damage Done: 2909
Name: Taurean Eltanin
Corp: The Tuskers
Weapon: Caldari Navy Foxfire Rocket
Damage Done: 2777
800mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
10MN Afterburner II
F-90 Positional Sensor Subroutines
5W Infectious Power System Malfunction, Qty: 2
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II, Qty: 2
Medium Egress Port Maximizer I, Qty: 3
Hammerhead II, Qty: 5 (Drone Bay)
Damage Control II
50W Infectious Power System Malfunction
Medium Capacitor Booster II
5W Infectious Power System Malfunction
Cap Booster 400, Qty: 2
J5b Phased Prototype Warp Scrambler I
Cap Booster 400, Qty: 20 (Cargo)
Warping to a safe, we all exchanged gfs in local. Striking up a conversation, I asked the Arbitrator why the Rifter's had bailed. I freely admitted that I was not likely to have survived the fight if they had stayed and contributed some dps. He agreed, telling me that they were trainees, and that there would most certainly be an after action review of this fight.
Looking back, I was very lucky to survive the battle, and I don't want to get into the habit of relying too much on luck. My tank rocks, sure. But not when I have no cap, so jumping into this particular fleet was tempting fate. Without the unexpected reaction of the rookies, I would probably have a loss mail to post.
Once again, I also underestimated just how slow battle cruisers are, and how long they take to align and warp to my location. Part of the problem is that I have never flown a BC. Perhaps if I just start thinking of them as armed haulers I'll be better able to judge their reaction speeds.