After the WhelpDunk Dinkle
You are staring at your pod. Either in space warping to a random celestial, or in station, in a fresh clone. Your fleet just whelped.
If you fly in larger fleets, it’s almost inevitable. Usually due to poor decisions at some point, but occasionally due to disconnects, dropped comms, or other random occurrences. Entire shiny fleets full of modules, drones, and ammo become wrecks and loot in short order.
The cause doesn’t really matter, but it’s interesting to look at what happens after the whelp.
Various groups handle it failure differently. Depending on what happened, you might even get widely diverse reactions from the same FC to a whelp than they had previously.
The Blame Game -The uncomfortable moment when the FC or fleet tries to point the blame on an individual or group. “Why didn’t you tell us they had eighteen Scimitars?!!!” “You bubbled our own fucking fleet!” “You fuckers were splitting damage. Why didn’t you follow the primary!?!!” This reaction definitely has an effect on processing emotions, but doesn’t always encourage further participation.
The Mea Culpa – When the FC takes all the blame, regardless of who is actually at fault. “I should have seen the probes on d-scan…” “We brought the wrong doctrine to counter this…” “I underestimated their alpha…” Usually this kind of talk will lead the fleet to commiserate with the FC and them them how it’s OK, and not their fault. Again, a good way to defuse the emotional frustration of a defeat, but if done too often, can lead to the FC being seen as unconfident or weak.
No Fucks Given – When the FC and fleet laugh off the whelp as if it didn’t matter. “We didn’t want those [insert fleet doctrine] anyways!” Lots of laughter and chatter in comms can relieve the tension. For frigate and destroyer fleets, this is often the case. When HAC or Battleship fleets get destroyed, this kind of reaction rings hollow and no one really believes it.
I Told You So – Typically this is not the FC, but a bittervet being bitter. “I told you that we shouldn’t bring Moas against the Gilas!” “I told you that battleships were a bad idea in null!” “I told you we should have brought more EWar for their logi!” This reaction can help the individual feel better about themselves, but usually ends up being insulting to pretty much everyone in fleet. If this isn’t quashed quickly, it can degenerate into some serious anger and harsh words.
The Navel Gaze – A point by point dissection of the battle with excruciating detail on the rationale and decisions of the fight. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it tends to go on for a long time, wandering from the fight itself to doctrine fittings, to EFT/Pyfa warrioring, to graphs of DPS damage. Most of the fleet with leave comms or fall asleep at some point, but the diehards can continue this particular post-whelp discussion for hours.
The Fair Fight Fallacy – Mainly when a fleet is out-shipped or out-numbered, the group will rally around the idea that the loss was due to the enemy being unfair. “If they want a good fight, they shouldn’t bring 100+ Railguns!” “15 Guardians is impossible to crack. It’s such bullshit!” “What are we supposed to do against a fleet of super-capitals?” The fight probably should not have been taken, but happened anyways.
The Good Fight – Believe it or not, this actually happens. Two fairly evenly matched fleets engage, and one gets a slight edge and slowly cracks the other during a long engagement that leads to a cascade as one side gets blown up. Usually, a sense of calm is felt as the failure mounts and everyone realizes that they won’t be getting out intact. “Burn out if you can, head for a safe.” “Sorry about that guys, but we gave it a good try.” “I thought we had that Damnation, but the reps caught just in time…” No one likes losing fights, but to get away without a lot of blame is never a bad thing.
As an FC or other leader in fleet, the idea to remember is that what’s said after the whelp doesn’t affect the recent battle at all. What is said after the whelp affects THE NEXT FLEET.
When seeing the Jabber ping or message in Alliance chat, pilots will be motivated (or not) by what happened in their last fleet. There’s some value in all the reactions; blame, analysis, bravado, etc., but taken too far in any direction can lead to reduced numbers in fleet and pilots unwilling to take on needed roles.
Once an FC gets known for suiciding fleets and laughing it off, it’s gets hard for the them to be trusted on important strat-op fleets. If an FC blames themselves for everything, pilots will lose confidence and not want to fly with them. If an FC screams at people too much, they will end up getting mocked and becoming a punchline.
Other fleet members have a role to play too. Senior members that are doing recon, logi, or other critical roles, will have access to information that can place the blame directly on the failure. As a logi anchor, I have to fly with brackets on and tactical overlay on, so I can clearly see when the FC is making a mistake on range dictation or alignment. Pointing this kind of thing out doesn’t help in the aftermath. More than once, I’ve been a calming voice on comms while at the same time venting about the FC’s glaring failure to a trustworthy friend.
People are motivated by different things. Some like a pat on the back, their name called out in fleet. Others respond to a harsh dressing down telling them to shape up and do better. There is no always effective speech or style to motivate people.
So after your next whelp, take moment to decide how you want to react and what you want out of the next fleet. For every one pilot talking in comms, there are 5-10 other pilots just listening, taking it all in and thinking about what they want to do next. Try to make sure that what you say helps your side win the next fight.