Leading fleets, be they for RvB or for the NPSI roaming communities of which I am but a part, is what I am known for in EVE. It is what I enjoy the most – even when loudly berating my fleets! FCing is also something I have previously addressed here on Crossing Zebras, most recently in last week’s column which expanded on a part of my FC 201 column.
Today I want to look at yet another aspect of FCing NPSI fleets, and that is knowing what tool is right for what job, and how to ensure that anyone joining your fleet has a place. Yes, I am going to talk about fleet setups – or doctrines if you want to get all ‘leet’ about it.
Where do you want to go today?
Before deciding what sort of setup you request your pilots fly, you must look at the target areas for your roam as I discussed last week. Two major questions will be raised as a result of this – what sort of opposition are you likely to face and how will your fleet composition affect the likelihood of you even finding some opposition?
For instance on behalf of RvB Ganked, I often FC fleets with 150 to 200 pilots, which means that for Ganked, large area’s of EVE are pretty much off limits as the residents just cannot muster a defence, even if my fleet is only in frigate hulls. The off-limits area expands if we up our game and move to cruiser sized hulls, supported by a large spread of logistics, ewar and links – despite this, we somehow manage to find a good fight nearly every week.
In a much smaller fleet, you as an FC will have considerably more target options no matter how you set your gang up. You can roll out with one or two logistics and ewar support ships and easily find good fights.
Tools of the Trade
Once upon a time, Ganked was simply a group of pilots – albeit a large group – that got told a suggested hull type, and maybe what weaponry to bring for a suggested engagement envelope. Over time it became increasingly more apparent that while we were having a laugh in our fleets, we were often needlessly exploding. We brought along the correct tools allowed by EVE, we would still have a laugh and get into some good fights but we would just have better fights that we may even win!
So my guest FCs and myself started ensuring that Ganked made the best of use it could of the key tools, and proper setups available to fleets and FCs today. Nearly three years of Ganked have passed, and our greatest successes have come since we started making use of proper fleet setups and organisation – most notable of which is this engagement from a month ago. Fleet setups that always include EVE’s own ‘holy trinity’- to use a term from theme park MMOs – of DPS, Heals and Crowd Control.
Currently I am designing a fleet for an event followed by a roam in a week or two, and I have had to look at the trinity and apply it to the creation of a new setup I have never tried before. As an FC I have seen a similar setup in action and killed it brutally more than a few times, usually thanks to overwhelming force rather than FC brilliance. However given the nature of NPSI communities in EVE, simply copying the fits from the killmails will not work. I have had to head back to the drawing board and redesign it from the ground up to allow for the vast array of combat experience and skill points found in a Ganked fleet.
DPS ships are the meat and potatoes of a fleet. Without sufficient numbers of these you will have trouble breaking the back of any well organised opposition you are likely to find. Every ship assigned as the DPS in a fleet must be fitted as uniformly as possible. Same tank type, same engagement range, similar lock ranges and so on.
For the fleet I am currently building, I have been looking at Ruptures fitted with artillery and a shield tank, with a minimum engagement envelope of 40 kilometres using T1 guns and EMP.
Using this as my base setup I can then improve it using T2 modules, add in my own level of SP in both the hull and the fittings, then do math to give me my fleets average engagement range, manoeuvring speeds, and an estimated level of tank across the fleet. Doing it this way then gives those willing to bring ships like the Muninn a base level to work on when fitting, without me as FC appearing to favour HACs over anything else.
Yes, I could just plan this fleet using max skills right from the start, however the nature of Ganked – and NPSI communities as a whole – really demands more attention gets paid to those with the least experience, or lower average SP than you find other groups. Putting all our new attendees into ewar or tackle, just doesn’t fly in these communities. Tackle is often the first to die and no one wants to be that guy! Nor do we want ‘new bros’ to have a bad experience when left to such roles.
Bring all the DPS ships you want – if you cannot keep them alive to continue applying damage, they are not worth much. ‘Heals’ or as they are known in EVE, logistics, are massively important to any fleet that wants to meet its operational goal, even if that goal is just ‘fun per hour’. Without a solid logistics backbone supporting your fleet, you run a huge risk of the opposition simply attriting you down, while their heals prevent you from ever killing anything in return.
Now, keen eyed observers will have noted that my Rupture fit above is equipped with an MWD, and as you will also know, the most common T1 logistics hulls used in a shield fleet do not work well with an MWD fit. The Scythe can do it, but involves some micromanagement which often puts pilots off flying logistics. The Osprey can do it if you have a solid cap chain, but again NPSI communities being what they are, you often are working with people who are flying logistics for the first time. AB fit logistics alongside a clever logistics anchor are the clear go to.
This does mean that anyone playing logistics anchor will have to constantly work on fleet positioning, along with the FC of the fleet as a whole, to ensure that the loving rays of shield transfers can reach out and touch someone as easily as the artillery can. Yes, this can be as annoying as it sounds – I am still getting a handle on perfect fleet positioning despite doing this for years now. Luckily my opposition is often much worse at it!
When deciding on the number of logistics to bring you must look at the size of your fleet, the pool of willing logistics pilots and whether or not you as FC can provide fitted hulls as an incentive, or at least some form of SRP for logibros. As I say above Ganked never used to bring logistics along to our fleets, and despite occasionally providing them gratis and endless praise being heaped upon our logibros, we still find it hard to have more than 5% of our fleet as logistics. This is quite a small number when you consider our average fleet size is 180. For this Rupture setup I would be comfortable taking it out with that 5%, although 10% would be nicer and less worrisome.
Tying both DPS and heals together you have crowd control. Without the ability to web, point, bubble, sig bloom, damp or disrupt your opposition your damage will not be applied as efficiently as it could, nor will your logistics be as safe as you can make them.
The Rupture fleet I am working on requires a lot of crowd control. From Bellicose with TPs to Huginns/Rapiers/Hyenas for that juicy extended web range or an Arazu/Keres to point from stupidly far away/prevent ships from MWDing out of our optimals or even to bring them in closer with use of damps, all of allow the damage from artillery Ruptures to be applied to the max.
This is not forgetting the assistance that a number of kamikaze tackle can bring to the field. Often used as a role for newer pilots by older groups, it works just as well in NPSI, although often leads to recriminations about such pilots being bad (from vets) or podded 20 jumps away (from the kamikaze). Honestly, I would sooner use skirmishers (see below) than suicide tackle in this way, getting the newer pilots into a DPS ship or a T1 support ship is a much better place to put them.
All of these often specialist ships can negate any amount of great piloting and FCing, especially if flown by competent pilots of your own. However like the DPS and logistics, you can substitute the T2 variants named above for T1 and do just as well, but a solid victory may be harder to pull off. Of course, that just makes victory that much more satisfying.
The FC’s Toolbelt
As well as the ‘holy trinity’, an FC has a few further tools at their disposal to ensure the fleet performs well.
Warfare links that benefit the fleet in many ways are the most used. At the top level you may have links to increase the fleet’s HP or speed, a wing may have links to benefit the logistics pilots and another may be full of tackle and the crowd control mentioned above with specific links to benefit them. Obviously, depending on your fleet this may be overkill but if you as an FC have access to these, use them. The benefits are amazing and can swing a fight your way.
On grid skirmishers are another tool that pretty much becomes the right hand of an FC during a protracted engagement. Usually consisting of a group of good frigate or nano cruiser pilots who can read the battlefield nearly as well as the FC can, these pilots hang around the edges of fights to help with repositioning, pinning down particularly valuable targets, preventing opposing skirmishers from obtaining warp-ins for reinforcements and from time to time letting FCs off the leash to bounce right into the mix and scare off enemy ewar or bubblers.
Lastly, many FCs will have their very own shotgun at their disposal, usually in the form of a cyno and some capitals on the old batphone. This is not something you see from NPSI fleets very often, however it is certainly something I have had used on me by many opponents in the past.
As you can see, setting up a fleet, or even building your very own doctrine – even if it is based on other parties ideas – can be done easily if you just remember the basics I have covered. It is it not difficult to get the idea out there and make into a reality. The only difficulty you should face is keeping it all together when out in the wild, but I cannot help you with that – experience is the best teacher.
Tags: fc, fleet, mangala, pvp
Mangala Solaris has been playing EVE since 2006. In his time in EVE, he have been a missioner, a miner, a scammer, a trader & even a null bear, however over the past 4 years or so Mangala has been heavily involved in Red Versus Blue, and more recently has become one the key figures in the NPSI communities of EVE. Somehow in addition to all of this, he finds time to represent the players as a member of CSM 9.