There are only 50 Malices in EVE Online. There will never be any more of them. When they are destroyed, they are gone for good. As such they are worth billions, and word is that Pandemic Legion paid Outbreak over 100B ISK for four of them.
Those four ships were fielded on day six of Alliance Tournament X, the Pandemic Legion versus Rote Kapelle match.
So why did they field these very expensive and very rare ships? I think the answer is two-fold.
Firstly, they're very capable little frigates. With Amarr Frigate V, the bonuses are +25% to all armor resistances and +100% to energy vamp and neut transfers and ranges, They also have role bonuses of an extra 100% to small energy turret damage and 50% small energy turret optimal range. These are tough little ships. As seen in the battle, Rote couldn't kill them even when they had not much else left on the field to shoot at.
Secondly, they're a superb distraction. A lot of FCs might have targetted them simply for the bragging rights of destroying them. "We lost the match, but we did kill four Malices." The enticement to take out 25B ISK frigates at the start of the match is a carrot many FCs would have chased.
Unfortunately for the Legion, Rote Kapelle had their eye on the ball. Winning Alliance Tournament X. They've more discipline than the average Alliance Tournament team.
In his summary of the match, Ripard Teg briefly mentions the short discussion the Rote Kapelle team had concerning the Malices on field:
"What's a Malice?" someone asked. "AT prize ship. It's a super-tanked Cruor," someone else said. "Then we ignore them," was the order from our FC.As a distraction, Rote Kapelle wasn't being hooked by the bait. So, if Pandemic Legion had fielded other ships, might have Rote been more apt to split their focus, even slightly? Give the Bhaalgorns time to do their work? Maybe, but not likely. Rote knew taking out the Bhaalgorns were their key to success. That said, the Malices certainly directed Rote's focus more strongly on the faction battleships. Without the Malices, Rote's decision-making might have been slightly more involved. With the Malices on field, the decision was quick and decisive: ignore them. With something a tad more squishy, then maybe, just maybe, Rote's focus might not have been completely fully on the Bhaalgorns.
One wonders too, if Pandemic's flying was altered due to the expense of their ships. Were they more cautious in their decision-making than they might have been otherwise? Certainly they did not swoop in to scoop loot on their non-flagship Bhaalgorn mid-battle.
Later, we learned that one of the PL Vengeances dove down on their [flagship] wreck to scoop it. The only result to that was that it put that Vengeance in my tackle range, so tackle it I did.Granted, the looting occurred late in the match, but why risk giving your opponent more points (which they got due to Ripard's tackle), when your bracket ending with tie-breakers is an all to real possibility?
Rote's set-up was the perfect foil to Pandemic's composition, but if there were different tactics and choices for Rote Kapelle to make, the inclusion of Malices precluded them, forced Rote onto a singular path to victory.
You gotta give it to Pandemic Legion, even when they lose they're the talk of the town. And many kudos to Rote for flying a well-executed match. I think we'll be talking this match up for the next couple of Alliance Tournaments. It's not Ten Angry Thoraxes, but this match will join it in the hall of fame.