I see that term getting thrown around on Reddit and in game all the time. Usually, it’s the small gang guys discussing their infinite superiority to the rest of us brain-dead Neanderthals. They accuse the general Eve population of basically following their FCs in a conga line, holding hands like so many elementary schoolers, targeting and applying DPS to the correct targets with all the precision and intelligence of those same elementary schoolers. Unfortunately, they’re not completely wrong.
After a few months of playing EVE, fleets got boring. I never missed a primary, always broadcasted for reps at the appropriate time and either died in a fire or survived with a handful of killmails that showed I could apply DPS just as well as the 30 or so other guys I was flying with. The deep sense of satisfaction I once got from sitting among a smoking pile of enemy wrecks while typing a malicious gf in local faded with each fleet. Our FC drove the killing machine, the scouts lit the way for him, logi pilots made sure it kept running, and I was a cog rotating endlessly between targets.
So I did what most newbies who have fallen in love with the game do when confronted with an “Eve problem,” I adapted, got better and clambered another few inches up the learning cliff. Hopefully, the following suggestions allow those coming after me to do the same with less effort and help them become more than F1 Monkeys.
Spread F*cking Points
If you’ve spent any time in a fleet that’s winning an engagement in lowsec, you’ve heard the call go out to lock down as much of the enemy’s fleet as possible before they make a run for it. I cannot stress how critical this is to providing your fleet members with extra content and providing yourself with an opportunity to look like a badass. The main difference I see between elite fleets that fill your killboard with green and those that are simply “good enough” are the individuals within said fleet having the presence of mind to realize when the tide of a battle is turning. Obviously, staying on the primary target should be your main concern, but several members of the fleet will have a disruptor on said target. Only you will have a scram on that 200mil Ishtar floating near the edge of your fleet with a pair of geckos out, and when you hear the FC yell, “They’re warping! Spread points!” you’ll have a prize to deliver to the rest of your fleet members, content that you specifically created without help or instruction. A win is always somewhat satisfying, but there’s a huge difference in the level of satisfaction and efficacy of picking off a few logi ships and watching the DPS scamper away or managing to crush half of a 40-man fleet under heel. That difference is up to the “monkeys.”
Another distinction between leet fleets and scrubs is situational awareness. It doesn’t take much effort or thought to warp between gates on a roam, so keeping a close eye on dscan/local can often make the difference between a productive night of explosions, an apologetic “sorry we didn’t get any fights guys,” or in the worst case scenario, a quick burn home with your respective tails tucked between your legs.
An example comes to mind that covers both of my first two points. It was late in the USTZ on a weeknight. Our 20 man HAC gang had reshipped to something more reasonable (to our opponents) in the form of kitchen sink frigs and destroyers, and our FC decided to camp gates in Tama. As I sat on the Tama gate in Sujarento, attentively considering the lint in my bellybutton, I noticed a group of WTs with roughly the same numbers in system. Leaving back up on the gate, I warped off to see if I could find the enemy. Fortunately, that proved easy as they were sitting in a small in a similar frig-dessie comp. I relayed what I was seeing, and the fleet took the fight. As we landed, I targeted the most expensive ships on field before the FC said a word, a Retribution sitting right on the beacon and a Jackdaw some ways off. “Primary is the Retribution. Call points!” came the call from our FC, followed almost immediately by my call “Point!” The battle ended with about half of the WT fleet flying pods, having killed only one of our t1 frigs.
Though I could recount innumerable times when I’ve done just about everything wrong, in this case I got it right. I used my knowledge of the territory (WTs can’t dock in our systems), my dscan and warp disruptor to create content as an F1 Monkey, albeit a proactive one. Out of all the fond memories I have of 100-man fleets, fighting Snuff supers and campaigns that turned systems into the deadliest places in New Eden, that one is near the top because of my direct involvement in creating it.
Mind Meld with your FC
This one is more conceptual and incorporates the last two points, but to sum up: try to anticipate the FC’s objective and strategy and do everything you can, within your role (DPS, logi, scout etc.) to make it happen. From a DPS perspective, this often means simply being where you’re supposed to be and applying your firepower to the correct target, but as was shown above, there are various ways to make more of that role. This also requires you to have some experience with fleets in general and sometimes with the FC you’re flying under, so if you are brand new to the game or a PvP environment, it might be best to ignore this and simply focus on the instructions coming in over your headset. That said, even things as simple as pre-aligning to the next gate when you know where the fleet is headed can help the overall efficiency of the fleet and help you survive if an enemy fleet suddenly appears.
Knowing when to tackle a ship on a gate is another minor example, as you often don’t have time to ask permission before the pilot warps off. When presented with this opportunity, you have to consider a variety of factors including where the fleet is going, if you’re chasing a larger engagement, if time is a factor, whether the pilot has friends in system that will come to help and whether or not the ship is worth the aggression timer you are about to incur. If you’re on a random roam and a lone Drake suddenly appears within point range, then tackle it immediately, but if you’re going to defend a POS that’s just come out of reinforcement, it’s probably best to ignore it and move on. As I said before, these are judgment calls that vary widely and become rote over time but are still critical to fleet success and the recently popularized “fun per hour” mantra.
You’ve Probably (read: Hopefully) Heard this Before But…
Just in case, here are some fairly typical newbro mistakes that will absolutely make a monkey out of you:
- Warping to a gate is not the same as jumping through it. Prepare for some backlash if you spike into a system without the FC’s go-ahead.
- Dying loudly. Please do not yell on comms about your ship going down. Odds are, the FC knows and is terribly sorry for your loss, but you really shouldn’t have gotten outside the logi’s repair range and are now making a mess of what should’ve been an easy victory.
- Follow Primaries. If the fight is on a knife’s edge, and you’re off trying to “spread points,” while your fleet gets decimated, you’re gonna have a bad time.
- Breaking anchor. If you’re confident with your manual piloting skills, this isn’t a huge deal, but if not, stay glued to your anchor.
- Bad intel. If you see an enemy on dscan or otherwise, make sure the information you relay to the FC is accurate.
- Make sure your ship matches the fleet comp. If you are flying a shield ship in an armor fleet, or bringing short-range DPS to fly with a kiting doctrine, odds are you are going to die ingloriously in the first few seconds of any engagement besides a gank.
I’ve seen the effect of the monkeys on battles across the Gallente/Caldari war zone, and they are almost always what makes the difference in a close fight. They are also responsible for turning orderly retreats into routs and vice versa. Doing the above may not remove the tag of “F1 Monkey” entirely from the average line member, but it will ensure that you end up in more successful, decisively victorious fleets, make you more than a DPS drone and make your time spent in New Eden that much more enjoyable.