Guide: Becoming a Fleet Commander

Author: Rikta Garemoko

What you can learn in this guide:

  • practical tips and a learning path to become a FC
  • overall considerations before you take out a fleet
  • basic fleet tactics for upcoming FCs
  • some general 'tips & tricks' to get you started

Difficulty: Beginners

Introduction

So, you want to become a Fleet Commander? A lot of people think about it at some point in their EVE career. Nevertheless for the most its a big step to really take out their first fleet.

Don't get me wrong: There is nothing better than

  • joining as many fleets as you can, to listen and learn from experienced FCs
  • just start doing it, to make your own experiences and learn from your own mistakes

… but, people also have the desire to just read more about what a Fleet Commander should think of, to find more confidence and to have some theoretical background. This guide tries to accomplish exactly that. Its addressing rookies on their way to become a FC and maybe its even useful for those who just started doing it.

I want to give you some very practical things and impulses to think about to find the confidence to get started, to know what you can do already to prepare yourself and what you can do to improve.

This guide is divided in many small independent chapters. The order of chapters has nothing to say.
It's not needed to

  • know all of it or
  • to do all of it or
  • to remember all of it

… during your first fleets. See at as a set of ideas and impulses.

A FCs reputation

Have you ever thought about which type of FC you want to become? Let's be honest: with which type of FC do you enjoy the most flying yourself?

Do you enjoy it if the FC:

  • repeats every order 4-6 times with an excited voice?
  • rarely doesn't say anything and if so in a way you can hardly understand him?
  • says 'ok let's be brave, everbody jump jump jump' and starts a fight you clearly couldn't win?
  • yells at you for not being aligned?
  • seems to appear to have no clue what to do next?
  • hesitates to do something, although there is a clear opportunity for a good fight?

or do you enjoy it if the FC:

  • is calm and gives clear orders, repeated just twice for the case you missed the first one?
  • seems to have a clear plan of what they want to achieve with their fleets?
  • avoids fights they can't win and brings you kills in fights where you have the upper hand?

You can most likely extend these two lists with points you have experienced in the past yourself. If you want to become a good FC, you are completely dependent on the fact, that people also want to fly with you :)

You will start small. People don't know you and will give it a try, if there is nothing better to do. If you whelp the whole fleet in the first 15 minutes in a way, which could have been avoided: well, I guess the next time they have to be really bored to x up again.

But, if they get the impression that you knew what you were doing, if they had a good time with you - no matter how many kills you got them - they will come back. They will spread the word about you, because they had a good time.

You shouldn't underestimate that building yourself a good reputation is part of the job!

Sure. You will make mistakes. You will whelp fleets. People tend to forgive that if they still had a good time with you. Being well prepared, knowing your limits and not being a douche on comms is a good start to achieve that.

Keep it simple, stupid!

It is easy to be an armchair general, a FC in your daydreams at work, an EFT warrior creating the great masterplan.
But hey: Keep it simple, stupid! Don't go wild on what you want to do.

Start with one simple doctrine (like for example Talwars) and become good at it. Focus on it.
Become an expert in FCing a cheap doctrine first. Don't plan to execute complicated things with an expensive fleet.

A good FC will need to be really flexible later on. But you have just started. Stay focused for now!

  • You want to know what you are doing.
  • You have one(!) doctrine you know well.
  • You have a handful of tactics you can execute well. (more on that in the chapter: simple tactics)

Everything else comes later and with time!
When you start as a new FC it is all about reducing complexity!

Pretty much everything is this guide tries to reduce the complexity for you.
You want to be calm, confident and focused on a few key things, to make good decisions.

Do your homework

Every FC will agree that the biggest challenge in doing the job is to handle its complexity in the heat of the moment. My firm believe and own experience is, that its help a lot if you are well prepared and do your homework before you go out and have to call your first target.

Start small and focus on one specific doctrine you want to fly. (can't repeat that often enough) Get to know this doctrine inside out. Fire up EFT/PYFA and become familiar with the strength and weaknesses of the ships you will fly, and also check zKill for fits commonly used by people you will be fighting.

  • what are the possible engagement ranges?
  • how much volley damage and dps can a fleet of 10 of these ships deal?
  • how quickly does one of these ships blow up?
  • how agile am I on the battlefield with these ships?

You have to really know by heart what you can do with YOUR ships. The next step is to get an idea of what you can engage with this ships. Write it down!

  • against which doctrines can you win easily?
  • from which doctrines do you really need to run away?
  • who could you fight outnumbered, outgunned?
  • who can you fight only if you blob him yourself?

I myself have literally(!) one piece of paper printed out on my desk which tells me what I will do and what not. Write it down and stick to it. To think this through before you go out will reduce complexity while you are out with your fleet. If your scout gives you intel just check this list. Don't start thinking about it, while the hostiles already sit on the other side of the gate.

So where could you operate? You could defend our home in Catch. You could visit Providence. You could say hello to the angry Russians in Stain. You could go to faction Warfare space.

Where ever you want to go: Know this area very well!

  • print out the map of the region you want to operate in
  • gather intel on activities in your timezone
  • get in an interceptor and roam this area solo to observe and make bookmarks (safespots, tacticals at gates and stations)

Gathering intel, writing it down in your printed maps and be familiar with what is going on during the time you plan your fleets is very helpful.

Let's take Providence for example:

  • get their Jump-Bridge map
  • know their staging systems
  • know their industry and ratting systems
  • know their trade hubs (by checking the market)
  • try to get access to their intel channels with an alt (very easy in Providence)
  • know where they like to set up gatecamps
  • check their killboards to learn more about them

Just a short list of tipps for checking killboards:

  • focus on data in the timezone you will operate in
  • check in which system their ratters lose the expensive ships
  • check their most used ships and fittings
  • know their most successful pilots to recognize them in local
  • write down pilots who lose ships with fitted cynos
  • create a list of pilots who lose probing ships

And so on. Gathering intel, being a spy yourself and doing solo recon missions can be a lot of fun and prepares yourself a lot for bringing an actual fleet down to the area you want to be active in! Obviously you could spent a lot of time and effort with gathering intel. Decide for yourself how much you want/can focus on and how much depth of information you need to feel comfortable.

I for myself really like it and it's a great weekly routine I can work on. Every week I spend a couple of hours to improve my own intel. Its one of the many things you can spent time with in EVE if there is nothing more interesting to do.

You don't need to know all this data by heart when you go there. But just gathering - whether you will remember all of it or not - will prepare you better, than flying blind into it. Having a better idea of what you are getting into will reduce complexity during your fleet, even if this preparation itself, might appear quite complex in itself ;)

Delegate, delegate, delegate

Again: Your job as FC is complicated enough. Make it easier by delegating special tasks to others in fleet. What I find the most helpful are these three things:

Already when forming up, delegate the task of putting the fleet together to someone else. Make him boss and ask him to use the "Fleet Composition" tool, to put in Wing & Squad Commanders and to notice when someone brings stupid ships.

Let him handle all the following issues which pop up all the time:

  • which ship can I bring?
  • what is the logi channel?
  • who is my anchor?
  • can I bring my Drake?
  • do you need a dictor?
  • where is the fleet?
  • Squad 11 still has no commander
  • pilot XYZ has disconnected

And so on. All this shit. Give this guy a clear briefing in the beginning what you want and he takes it from there. You have other things to focus on, than handling this issues.

If you know you will go to region XYZ ask a covert-ops or interceptor pilot to X up in fleet. If there is none, ask someone to do it for you explicitly and make clear, that he will be of great value for the fleet.

You will still have your interceptor scouts with your fleet jumping one system ahead. This guy is dedicated and independent from your fleet to find what you are looking for.

Convo him and assign him the task to already go to the area where you want to operate in and let him start gathering intel on his own. He will have a head start of maybe 15 minutes and he can already tell you - in this convo, not on comms - if he finds gategamps, hostile fleets roaming, ratting carriers or what so ever.

Let him know, what kind of fleet you would want to engage. If he finds a juicy target, he should keep his eyes on the target. While the fleet is forming up and someone else is organizing your fleet you want to focus on your intel and this scout, to lead the fleet not into the unknown but into an already scouted area.

This might be controversial, but I would recommend you to ask in fleet if there is an experienced anchor pilot in a DPS ship who simply knows how to keep a fleet at optimal range of hostiles. Many FCs also prefer to be the anchor for the fleet themselves, but for a new FC it makes things a lot easier, if you can simply anchor up yourself and concentrate on the overall battlefield and target calling, than also on moving the fleet around.

If you have no one who is confident with this task, it of course doesn't make sense. But if you're lucky, having a great anchor is another great 'complexity reducer'. Just communicating with him on comms like 'get me closer to the hostile', 'point the fleet to the sun', 'we need to pull more range' is easier than having to do it yourself.

And there is another simple benefit: every smart hostile FC might kill the obvious anchor pretty early on the fight.

Orientation and Situational Awareness

As an FC it is really important to have a good orientation on the battlefield and a certain degree of situational awareness. Both you can not get by reading this guide, but just by pure PVP experience in the game. The good news it: you can train this a lot without having to be a FC.

My advise to improve your orientation is to join as many fleets as possible in a DPS ship and to do something different, than just anchoring up and picking up broadcast from your fleet window. You might already do the following, but if not: start doing it now!

  • you always have your tactical overview active
  • you always are zoomed out, so that you can assess the situation around you
  • you have your overview configured in a way, that you see brackets for hostile and friendly ships + wrecks

During a fight you not only just anchor up and shoot the primaries, but you also:

  • try to keep count of hostile and friendly wrecks to be aware of who has the upper hand
  • try to keep track of where your own logistics are positioned on the field
  • try to keep track of the direction the hostiles and your own fleet is moving
  • try to understand the hostile fleet composition
  • try to start FCing and target calling (quietly for yourself)

You want to get yourself in a situation as you would be in control, to just train to

  • keep track of all the important things going on at the same time
  • start making decision to check if you would make similar calls than your current FC

Use every fleet as an FC training by actively thinking about what YOU would do now in this situation. Train to handle all this things at the same time under pressure. Try to think about it in real time - don't just judge, what you have would have done differently after the fight is over.

This is a really good training and as long you don't have a very good feeling, that you can keep track of everything around you, it might be a bit early to FC your own fleet yet.

This is the ability to quickly comprehend what is going on, realizing what will most likely happen next, without having to think about it very long. Your situational awareness will increase over time, as more experience you gather, as more different situation you will encounter.

It's something you can work on. What really helps to train your situational awareness is:

  • be a scout for a fleet from time to time and try to anticipate what the FC will most likely wants you to do next
  • fly logistics and get a different perspective on a fight. it will extend your horizon and allow more in depth assessments
  • start doing more solo pvp or pvp in very small groups (2-5)

Solo PVP or going out in a very small group is one of the best ways to work on your situational awareness. Very good scouts and very good FCs are often also very good solo pilots, as it simply forces you to make all decision by yourself, instead of just following orders.

Your will train your muscle to anticipate what is most like for the enemy to do next.

Simple Tactics

Moving a fleet around is not a big deal at all. Telling people to align to something, to hold, to jump and to warp a fleet is a piece of cake and can be done by simply everyone. It's much more about being able to apply different tactics and to understand a situation, to know what you can do and what not.

For your first fleets I want to give you three simple tactics you can apply. They all work quite well with Talwars. (little hint)

And I want to tell you one thing, you will never ever do on your first fleets: you will never ever jump into a hostile gatecamp!

Jumping into a hostile fleet, which is setup on a gate, will most likely shred you to pieces, unless your largely outnumber or outgun them and there is really no reason to do that. Jumping into another fleet puts you most of the time in a bad position. Put this rule on the list of things, you will never do, even if this is the only way to get a kill.

Yeah, let's be honest: it is often very boring to do it and no one likes it. But nevertheless it gives you the highest level of control over the situation and is a good way to start as a new FC.

To keep morale high in your fleet, I advise you to do two things:

  • don't speak of a 'gate camp'. Just set up your fleet on a gate and make your fleet believe you have intel that something is coming ;)
  • never sit on one gate longer than 20-30 minutes. after that just move on, keep the fleet moving and try something else.

How to set up a gatecamp:

  • you have a scout in the other system, to know what is coming
  • you have one dictor on zero on gate, to launch the bubbles
  • fast tackle is orbiting the gate with drones out
  • dps and logi are on their anchors
  • ewar is at optimal range and aligned

Some remarks for the different roles:

  • SCOUT: best is, that he is not visible. He can either cloak or sit in a safespot and uses his directional scanner to see if something is about to jump into your gatecamp
  • TACKLE: scram and webs for the win! decloacking by always burning towards a target the second he uncloacks!
  • DPS: you should be at your optimal range. If you have a long range doctrine like Talwars I would already anchor up and let the anchor position the fleet perfectly for you
  • LOGI: has its own anchor and want to stay in range to the DPS fleet, but as far aways as possible from the gate.
  • EWAR: E-War always uses its range, acts independently from the rest of the fleets, is aligned and simple warps out when in trouble

If something comes through your gate you can kill: bubble up, tackle it, kill it
If something comes through your gate, which you don't want to engage: get out fast enough!

You should know way in advance by your scout if something is coming, which you do not want to fight. For this case you want to have a clear plan, how to get away quickly from this position.

Let's be clear about this tactic: you can only catch, what is stupid enough to jump into you. A small gang with a scout, should most likely not run directly into your trap. Everything which does: they will most likely try to burn back to the gate. Therefore its so important that you have tackle with scrams and web.

There are a lot of more advanced tactics related to gate camps - you can do some things to increase the chance to get a fight with a smaller gangs than yours - but those I will explain in another guide.

Roaming in hostile space, which has systems with stations in it, is a great place to execute the 'station trap'. You will be surprised how man pilots still warp their ratting ships or mining barges to stations to get safe, instead of a POS or bouncing between safespots.

The great news is, that with Providence next door (which has a station in nearly every system) you have a great training ground only a few jumps out.

How to set up the station trap:

  • your scout jumps into a system and checks if the gate is clear
  • if gate is clear your dictor jumps aswell, while the rest of the fleets holds on the gate
  • the dictor directly warps to the station and covers it with bubbles
  • as soon the bubble is up the rest of fleet jumps into system
  • at least one, better two tacklers with scram and webs warp to the station
  • all DPS, Logi and E-War warp at optimal range to the station
  • if you have more tackle to spare send them to random anomalies in the system

You have to execute this really fast to quickly bubble up the station. When hostiles land on the station caught at the edge of the bubble, it is key to get a scram and web on him, as they will try to get in docking range or warp off.

If you have a prober with you, he should start probing as soon the bubbles are up. He might find someone in a safespot and it increases the pressure for people in safespots, so that they might try to warp to the station.

If you are in a system where the enemy has a jump-bridge, its worth camping the station for up to 15 minutes, as people who are not paying attention might bridge into the system and warp straight to the station.

If you are in ships with a high volley damage (like Talwars) you might even try to instap-pop ships who try to undock, get vulnerable and not dock up quick enough.

Another popular tactic is to 'hit and run'. This works extremely well with long range fleets, who have a high volley damage. (i.e. Talwars) If you have a enemy fleet location, for example because:

  • you come back from a roam and a station in Fountain is camped
  • you arrive at an ongoing fight as support fleet or as a third party

How to execute a hit and run:

  • move your fleet towards a safe position first within the system (i.e. a tactical above a gate)
  • send one scout towards a planet in system to create a safespot near this planet as warp-out
  • send a covert-ops or interceptor to get a close position as warp-in to the enemy fleet
  • align your fleet towards the position of the enemy fleet
  • warp in at an maximized optimal range to the enemy fleet (do the math at which range you have to warp towards your warp-in)
  • try to get in tackle close to the enemy fleet only if they are not in a bubble already
  • everybody directly aligns on land to the planet of your warp-out
  • kill just a couple of ships and then leave the field again
  • as soon something comes in range to you, get out!
  • don't spend to much time at one position, as you could get probed, bombed etc.

After that get a warp-in at another position, move your warp-out to a different planet and start over again. If there are already two fleets fighting each other, you will probably have a very easy time to do this and can stay at your position killing ships a little longer.

If not: your main challenge will be to get tackle on the enemy fleet. If you can get a decent prober in your fleet to scan down enemies and provide warp-ins its perfect!

What is important: after every run make sure, that you really kill more ISK than you lose!

Target Calling

There is only one simple rule for target calling, which is always right: it's better to call any ship, than none
If you have no clue for the first seconds what to do: sort by range and call the closest target to you and work your way up, until you might have a better overview of the situation.

Apart from that it really always depends on the situation and therefore I want to give you just a few things to think about, to make your own decisions:

I would only primary logistics if it needs to be. You should have a rough idea of how much damage your fleet can apply and you should be able to roughly estimate how much EHP your targets have and how much a single T1 and T2 logistics can repp.

It's also a question of your own E-War. With a few E-Wars ships in your back and not a massive logistics support on the other side, I would at first ignore them. If you see, that they repps are holding, or that it simply takes to long to kill something, you can switch back to them at any point during the fight.

Same thinking as with the logistics. If you can ignore them, ignore them. I would always start the fight and reconsider your situation after the first 60 seconds. Ask you logistics if they have a lot of issues with jamming and dampening.

If you have a good amount of support ships: order them to go after E-War. They will most likely warp off, if a few frigates start chasing them. Another tactic is to just order everyone to lock the E-War ships without shooting them. Massive yellow boxing should make most E-War pilots to warp off.

The only exception I would make: if you fight ships with turrets and they have Vigils or Bellicose ships in fleet: take them down first. Getting them off the field will cut down their DPS by quite a lot.

Hyenas, Rapiers, Huginns & Lokis have long range webs. Keres, Arazus, Lachesis & Proteus have long range points. Both groups are a high threats for you. Webs more than points, as they will maximize the damage application. Points are relevant in fights, where there is actually a chance to warp of when called primary. (for example if you fight missile ships, which give you time to warp off) The T3 will have a massive amount of EHP, the EAFs are paper thin.

If you are for example in Talwars, all you have is your range and speed. If this is compromised by these ships on the field, they have to go down first!

If you think you can win the fight: ignore the long points and kill the long webs first. If you can't kill them and if you notice that you lose the fight: get out of the fight and while doing that primary the long points.

Hostile Interdictors should always be high on your list if you are in a situation where you don't want to get bubbled. It would not say they are top of the list in every situation, but prolly in most.

If everything else is fine you call the hostile DPS ships as primaries. You want to focus first on the highest DPS ships. If there is no difference between the ships left on the field I recommend you to have at least the column 'Velocity' active in your overview. ('Transversal Velocity' if you fly turret ships) and to start with the slowest ships in your range for the best damage application.

Talwars, Talwars, Talwars

As its quite likely at the current situation, that you start your career as a FC with Talwars, I just want to say two things about them.

  1. all I described here can be executed with Talwars quite well. But they have a big weakness: they are paper thin and go boom super fast. Don't start brawling with them at a closer range, stick to the three tactics, always operate at the edge of your optimal range and your fine with them.
  2. if you put a Talwar fleet together make sure during form-up that everyone has the same minimum skills for them. If really new players jump into a Talwar without the required skills trained up to Level 4 their range will be much lower and their signature radius way to high.

Ask your pilots to have:

  • Minmatar Destroyer at Level 4
  • Missile Bombardment at Level 4
  • Missile Projection at Level 4

If they don't: your fleet might not be as good as you think. So its better to put them in another ships than the Talwar. Maybe use the MOTD of your fleet to make this very clear.

Tips and Tricks

Some general things I wanted to address:

  • make use of your overview and configure it for different situations, to quickly see what you need
  • only broadcast the primaries! otherwise your secondary will be top in the list and the fleet will start to spread damage
  • always ask only once for a volunteer. The second time its an order and you directly approach someone to just do it
  • always stay calm. Say 'please' and 'thank you' and make clear how important things are
  • keep your comms clear right from the start. allow people to chat in fleet, but tell them to keep comms clear
  • it doesn't hurt to tell people that they have done a great job. keep people motivated.
  • keep moving, keep doing things, don't stand still
  • standing a fleet down if there is nothing left to do is a good idea
  • avoiding a fight you simply can not win is a good idea
  • disengaging when something goes wrong is not a shame, but a good move
  • telling people what they did wrong in a polite ways helps them to become better pilots
  • during the fleet you are in charge and no one else! ask people to address their critics after the fleet

Let's warp it up

So that's it for this guide. I hope I could give you a better idea and some practical advise on how to get started as a FC. Remember that you can already train a lot, by simply joining fleets yourself and having in mind, that you might want to FC a fleet by your own in the future. Learn from others and already start thinking as a FC.

Do your homework. Get to know different ship fittings, make notes on their strength and weaknesses. Go out and start gathering intel, create your own little knowledge-base, have a lot of bookmarks for safespots and tacticals and be well prepared.

Keep it simple. Delegate what you can, focus on just one simple doctrine like Talwars and get familiar with this three simple tactics I told you and try to become really good in executing them.

I will write a guide about more advanced tactics in the future.
If you have any questions or feedback: let's discuss them in this post on reddit about this guide.

7o
Rikta Garemoko

  • public/dojo/wiki/newfc.txt
  • Last modified: 2019/10/18 17:48
  • by Aernir Ridley