This post, named after the monthly Q&A I do for EVE University (most recent & best recording with guest FCs Master Zeuth & Pinky Feldman here) contains the bulk of the preamble I do before we get into the Q&A. Over the past few weeks, the number of different people taking out fleets has exploded. The AAR section of the forums, which previously contained maybe 3-4 regular authors and the occasional guest is now a mosaic of Unistas, new and veteran taking out all manner of fleets. I cannot begin to express the delight this brings me, as it’s something that I along with many others have been trying to work towards.
So, taking out your first fleet. If you’re not yet comfortable to make the call-up in alliance and just go for it there are two options that stand before you:
1) Do it anyway.
2) Get more experience & knowledge.
I highly advocate the option I took when starting out, #1, as there is no substitute for first hand experience. Otherwise, to achieve #2 you can try multiple things.
– Read AARs and talk to FCs. When written well AARs are a portal into the mind of the FC, the decisions he was making and why he was making them. You can ask FCs questions about specific points in them and they will usually be happy to go over them with you. This approach can help a lot with basic decision making and specific areas you don’t understand.
– This is something of a combination of #2 and #1, but the idea is to take out a fleet anyway, but ask an experienced FC or player to specifically tag along and provide support where needed, even taking over as Second in Command if you get completely overwhelmed/blown up. Personally I was very fortunate to have a few experienced Unistas regularly X-Up for my fleets, so I got to know them rather well and they were immensely helpful to me when I was just taking my first steps, and to be frank still help me a lot to this day.
– Train Leadership 5 (WC 3 3/3/3/3 is only a few hours more) or learn to scout. Both of these options will mean you are regularly invited into the command channel, where you get to hear more of the available intel and see more of the decision making happening. As a Scout, you are an intel gatherer and filter, by nature you will learn a lot about what information is important and how FCs will react depending on the the goals and capabilities of the fleet are. As a Squad Commander, you manage the 10 people in your squad to some degree, be it just for re-invites & answering questions or whether you are tasked with taking a specific squad to a specific place to do a specific job. It is also an excellent option to volunteer to be in the chain of command when doing this.
– Go on lots of fleets. Just do it. The more you dive into them the more experience you have to call upon, the more people you will get to know and you’ll have more fun. I both lead and participated a stupid amount of fleets for my first 3 months and each one taught me a tiny bit more, got me a tiny bit more experience, making me the marginally less awful FC I am today.
Regardless, let’s say you’ve decided to take out your first fleet. Due to the UNIs fantastic ship replacement program, I always reccomend new FCs within the UNI take out small gangs of T1 Cruisers or Destroyers. They are cheap, can punch well above their own weight and if you accidently the whole fleet no-one takes a significant ISK loss, as the Insurance payout will likely cover the module loss.
Step 1: Where are you going to go?
I reccomend a Low Sec roam and specifically the Molden Heath loop to many new FCs. Low Sec has a high concentration of targets and less worry about bubbles/pod losses. You can also plan lots of Hi-Sec outs along the way to get back to the relative safety of Concord if things go pear shaped. Molden Heath fairly quiet but not entirely dead, obvious to traverse (it’s a big circle) and allows you to get used to directing a fleet through maneuvers. Don’t worry about not getting any kills, everyone has dry spells and it’s a whole lot better than station spinning. Realistically, any route is fine, even if you have a burning desire to roll into Amamake/Rancer/Tama on your first time out. The only other thing to bear in mind the likely travel speed of your fleet and how highly trafficked the systems are, a frigate roam will travel a darn sight faster than a battleship roam. Tell everyone you’ll be going out for 2-3 hours and aim to finish at 2, which will allow for unexpected occurrences.
Step 2: Go, do, shoot flashys, come home again with your shield or upon it.
Somewhat self explanatory. I won’t go into any further detail here as there are just too many scenarios to discuss.
Step 3: Reflection
Write an AAR. Put effort into it. Many FCs will write simple AARs and just put specifically what happened, maybe just even a battle report and leave it at that. That’s absolutely fine but in order to learn to become a better FC, by revisiting the events later on in an objective manner in your mind and allowing others to comment on what mistakes you made/what good things you did you will learn massively from 10 minutes or less of typing. Seek out experienced pilots who flew with you and ask them for their opinion, they’ll usually be happy to give it.
Step 4: Do another fleet
I know FCing won’t be for everyone, but I highly reccomend giving it a go and seeing whether or not you like it, as with all things in EVE. Without FCs we have no fleets, meaning people don’t get to fly their ships and revel in the exploding of them. In the UNI especially, no fleets means people don’t get practical experience in the roles they’ve been learning about.
I’ll finish with common mistakes (all of which I have made and continue to make) that are prevalent especially in newer FCs, so that you can be aware of them and do your best to minimise their impact.
– Be decisive. Any decision immediately is superior to a better decision in 10 minutes.
– Don’t be afraid to welp fleets. You will learn the most from the fleets you welp 90% of the time, that’s just how it is. If there’s a realistic way for you to engage an opposing force, even if just to pick off something shiny and run is better that avoiding everything apart from ganking much smaller groups. A welp is more fun than nothing happening at all.
– Don’t be discouraged and be good at taking criticism. If you enjoy taking out fleets, keep doing them. Some pilots may be very pointed in their criticism and that’s fine, some people are rude. Take what you can from it and move on. Every person who agrees to come along to your fleets is a person who believes in your capability to FC them.
– Don’t get ego-trip when you start getting experience and confidence. Having large amounts of people agree to listen to what you say and follow your leadership, choosing you to lead how they spend their free time should be overwhelmingly humbling. There are many cases of FCs who start to believe they are superior than their foot soldiers and begin to dehumanise them into modules on their ship and can become rude to those who do anything but exactly what they say exactly when they say it. It is at this point the FC will cease all improvement in his abilities and hemorrhage fleet participation. No-one likes to hang around with a jerk.
– Somewhat counter to the previous point, be confident and open with your fleet. Try to inspire morale and happiness in your fleet without seeming arrogant. They’ll do demonstrably better in a fight and have much more fun. Hearing silence over comms is dull and can cause panic if you’re in the middle of an engagement, so keep talking and keep everyone reassured, giving out all the intel you feel comfortable to so that everyone remains involved and invested as much as possible. This can also help with feedback, as with more information people can give better suggestions.
Take out fleets. Do it. Now. You could have done an X-Up while reading this post! What are you waiting for?