Target Locked, Visual AcquiredMangala Solaris
If you have been following this column, you will know that lately I have been writing about various aspects of fleet commanding. Today I want to cover what to do and how to handle your fleet when you are actually out there, after planning where to roam and what to roam in.
What do I mean by handling your fleet? Simple things like having pilots on voice comms, ensuring they know how to follow broadcasts, how best to call targets and what order to deliver commands so that it makes it easier for the fleet.
There are several voice platforms out there for the budding FC to choose from. The front runners are Mumble, Teamspeak and Ventrilo, although the latter does lag behind the former two in terms of popularity. The majority of social groups, corporations and alliances in EVE have access to at least one of these. There is also a fourth, one many people tend to overlook and that is EVE Voice, the built-in voice client provided by Vivox to CCP.
Whatever voice program you use, ensure that you can be heard clearly above all others, that any special channels and key bindings are set up before you leave, and that your fleet understands when to BS on comms and when to STFU and get their game faces on. Additionally you want your fleet to recognise the voices of your main scouts and any reserve FCs you may have along, so get them to speak up as pilots add them to watchlist.
Target Calling: Choices
One of the key things you will do as an FC when the enemy force kindly presents itself, is decide which target to shoot first. An understanding of ship types and how they can be tanked or overtanked, benefits they give to the enemy fleet and whether the ship is worth more than your entire fleet are key aspects to knowing what to hit and when.
For me, if an enemy jumps into my fleet, then bubblers (if in null), swiftly followed by any logistics or recons that decloak early are usually called first. I try to ignore obvious bait, such as Damnations, or particular types of battleship as they are either designed to soak up your damage, or distract you enough for the remainder of the fleet to get organised and start fighting back. If the enemy consists of snipers that need to race off before they can become truly deadly, then simply align your fleet with them and focus fire their logistics or core DPS as they burn away.
If I am on the one jumping in, first calls are local tackle: interceptors, bubblers and any frigates on the gate. As my fleet takes these down I can work on positioning my ships ready for the main event, or ready them to warp off if the odds are not in my favour or I need room to maneuver.
Another point to note is what is the enemy composition versus yours. If you are in a frigate sized setup – for example AB rail Harpies, or blaster Enyos – then what and how you call changes again.
Sitting at range with the Harpies and using their low sig combined with their excellent mass volley will allow you to work through fleets of close to mid-range cruisers and their support with ease in near enough any order you choose. The blaster Enyos can spiral on in and focus down everything they secure tackle on, up to and including battleships, so in this situation you hit T2 logistics first, then run a train on any other ‘shiny’ hulls, before dogpiling onto the rest of the enemy gang.
Cruiser and higher setups that are designed to utilise high alpha or volley again can look at targets in different ways. When facing large numbers of smaller targets free firing can work effectively, and when working against the ubiquitous drone blob, such setups should focus on the primaries with your supporting ewar being the only ones ignoring such calls.
It is essential to note that every engagement is different and is affected by vastly different factors, but if you just remember: tackle>logi>dps and you should be okay in the majority of engagements.
Target Calling: How To
Now the above is a rough look at how I prioritise targets. How I actually call those targets so my fleet can kill them is another matter. Many FCs in EVE use the tried and tested method of target-calling in the following manner:
Ship type>First three letters of pilots name>ship type
Usually they will repeat this a couple of times, and follow it up with secondary and tertiary targets. More FCs use this method and combine it with broadcasts.
Broadcasting your targets as you call them moves them to the top of your fleets overview, so people who react that way can lock them from there. For those who have their broadcast history set up correctly they can lock them from that window just as easily. Broadcasting saves a fleet so much time when following your orders that targets die more quickly due to greater damage application. Regardless of how your fleet reacts to your broadcasts, the fact that they should do so speedily is what will raise them above other fleets. Any fleet where everyone is scrolling their overview to find a target is one performing sub optimally.
Personally I used to be one of those that did not broadcast, however over the past few years I have moved on to using it almost exclusively. In fact, as I usually operate on open comms and my opposition does like to listen in for target calls, I have gone a step further. I rarely, if ever call a target’s name any more. I simply broadcast the ships I want to see explode, usually in groups of three unless it is an obviously tanky target that I need focused down.
Next week I shall round out this series on FCing with a look at the soft skills that all FCs should have – those that make you an effective leader and one pilots should be happy to fly under.