I am not a veteran FC which, I realize, is easily the worst sentence to start off an FC guide with. (Bonus points for being a writer ending a sentence with a preposition as well!) However this guide is not aimed at the veteran – the reason I’m writing this “quick and dirty” guide is not to teach anyone how to play EVE but to help newcomer FCs better manage the rigors of commanding a group of people in a continually changing, complex, real time scenario.
FCing isn’t only about EVE knowledge, there are probably plenty of EVE veterans that know the game intimately that just wouldn’t make good FCs for one reason or another. It’s that intangible side of FCing that I’d like to initiate would-be commanders to today. Since I’m a Faction Warfare nerd, I frequently encounter newcomers to PVP, FCing, or both throwing a fleet up in Militia. Some of them don’t know even close to enough about PVPing to dream of FCing but they give it a try anyway. What’s the harm? We’re generally rolling in T1 Frigs anyway, a lossmail I’m not going to lose sleep over (even if it is a gang of Atrons derping into a cruiser fleet…). Regardless of whether you have 5 or 50 million skillpoints, the following tenants can help ensure a fleet runs smoothly:
- Be Assertive – Typically people don’t join fleets to loosely do stuff across 10 different systems. They want to gather delicious tears and make enemy ships explode. If people are spread out and not really taking part in the fleet ask them to leave. Make sure that people know you are the FC and that you have an objective in mind (see Tip 4). This doesn’t mean screaming when people don’t follow your orders, but if you’re not willing to assert yourself as the leader of the group then why should anyone follow you?
- You Have To Talk – You don’t have to be the most talkative person on comms when people are chatting, but when the fleet is moving or scouting you ALWAYS need to be asking questions, gathering intel, issuing orders, etc.. Don’t assume people will just know when to jump/warp, etc. If you want to run a fleet then RUN IT, don’t just herd it around. Having a well-coordinated group of pilots is a major force multiplier and the only way to coordinate is through communication. The best FCs I’ve flown with talk more than anyone else but in a way that is useful and focused. You don’t get sick of hearing them speak nonstop because you’re following their orders, processing new information, preparing for some action because of their verbal commands.
- Information Is Key – I should just type the words “Situational Awareness” over and over and call it a day for this guide. This tip relates directly to the one above: if you’re always asking questions and gathering intel you have more information about your area of operation. The better you understand the situation around you the better decisions you make. In the tactical sense, find a good couple of scouts to be your eyes and ears. It’s enough to command a dozen pilots but to also scout for them? It can be overwhelming. Pick a couple experienced pilots or pilots you trust and have them +1 into systems for you. If you don’t know what’s going on around you, how can you hope to make the right call if a situation just springs itself on you at the last minute?
- Make Sure The Fleet Has An Objective/Direction – And be clear about what the objective is! An easy way to have your fleet disintegrate is to meander around with no clear purpose. If you’re going on a roam, have a destination set and an objective in mind. If you’re going to go Plexing then pick a system or two and stick with it. With Plexing especially there may be down time (no plexes available, etc.) so have a backup plan to keep the fleet engaged in something constructive. It’s not hard to find things to do in EVE. Having your fleet sit at a safe in silence is a waste of everyone’s time. If you’re not actively waiting for a situation to arise then get everybody moving to the next system/Plex/objective.
- Everyone Else Can Get Mad – But not you. It can be a real drag running in a fleet with a negative, aggravated FC. Sometimes it enhances the experience because a fired up FC can transfer that intensity to other pilots, but it’s a fine line. More often than not if you’re frustrated and angry you should just sit a few plays out and cool off. At best you’ll alienate pilots into not wanting to fly with you again, at worst you’ll get into a shouting match over comms and clear your fleet out in short order. FCing is difficult, exhausting, and often times thankless. If you’re learning how to command pilots because you want everyone to praise your genius you’re setting yourself up for failure.
- You’re Gonna Get Blamed For Stuff – I once got a frantic message in Fleet Chat that one of my pilots was in trouble a few jumps away. I rallied the fleet and arrived just as this pilot got popped. He was raging at me for letting him die. Apart from the fact that he should have been with the fleet, he was also in a Loki… and name of the fleet I was running was T1 Frig Plexing. I apologized for his loss nonetheless but he was inconsolable. He said he’d never fly with me again, etc. etc. Point being? People get pissed and they blame you for stuff that was clearly not your fault. It’s going to happen if you FC. Just have the thick skin and presence of mind to deal with it rationally (hence tip 5 being so important).
This is by no means all there is to it. But if you follow these tips your fleet will at least be a cohesive, focused fighting force. What other qualities make up a good FC? Let me know in the comments.