Kaeda wrote a very interesting post regarding small gang warfare, pointing out that the term “small gang” is somewhat relative in EVE.
In addition to this relativity, I often think that people don’t factor fleet size at all in some balancing discussions. For example, (and I unfortunately cannot find the exact forum post) a few months ago I read through a rather lengthy forum post regarding ECM, where people were adamantly claiming that ECM was balanced, while others were adamantly claiming it was completely game breaking. There was all sorts of *math*, and discussion surrounding the ‘balance’ of the math of your chances, and etc.
No one ever mentioned fleet size, which I believe is a very important factor in any discussion regarding ECM. There is a significant difference in having a 30% chance of removing someone from a fight where 100 people are involved, and having a 30% chance of removing someone from a fight where there are 6 people involved.
Like Kaeda touched on, small gang pilots in low-sec often employ strategies and a gameplay style where each member of their gang is important on an individual basis. This also means that the chance of having a member taken out of the fight by being tied down with ECM is an even more devastating prospect then it would be in a situation where you may be at risk of losing the firepower 1 of 30 Caracals, or etc.
It is for this reason that ECM seems to be disliked most by members of the low-sec community. In my experience, ECM is more or less an anti-conflict driver in small gang warfare, where you have very small numbers—such as less than a dozen pilots. The threat of ECM will often cause a fight to fizzle out and never begin, and the arrival of even a small amount of ECM on field will often cause one side to disengage and remove themselves from the situation.
Someday, I hope CCP revisits the mechanics of ECM, taking into mind its effects on various gameplay. I understand the ‘numbers’ and how it could be argued that ECM is not as unbalanced as people think, given the chances involved. However, when you see the consistent, negative effects that ECM has on your gameplay, year after year, it’s hard not to think that something is a little amiss.