Today’s column is going to delve deeper into the FC rabbit hole for those of you who read my first column on Crossing Zebras, then went out and gave fleet commanding a go. Some of what I touched on in that column will be built on in this piece in addition to covering topics such as basic fleet setup, choosing an area to roam, and target calling. All of this should be useful to people wanting to get involved in the NPSI lifestyle I touched upon last week.

FC’s got my attention, FC’s confident

Now, those of you who did head out with friends, or with corp or alliance mates figuring that my basics were enough to get you some kills, may well have been exploded a few times. However that you did so demonstrates the key thing for an FC, confidence. The confidence you have as an FC should first and foremost be in yourself. Yes you will make mistakes and yes those errors will cause your fleet to die horribly, or for the tactical objective to be lost, however understanding that such things are easily corrected next time round will keep your confidence high. Never use errors as a way to get down on yourself. Confidence is massively important to an FC. It is what makes you take fights despite a lack of intelligence on what your opposition may be flying or who they have on the batphone. Confidence is the mechanism that keeps your fleet focused on getting a fight. Most importantly of all, when communicating with your fleet (which you should never stop doing) your confidence in yourself and them will shine through.

Drop some knowledge

okdbpXX Having the best intel on your potential opponents is another important thing for an FC to know.  You can find this out in a variety of ways including:
  • Solo roaming through your target area – even if it is just zooming through in an interceptor. Making a note of the affiliation of the pilots you see in local and actively in space.
  • Look at Dotlan for details of the sov holders if the target area is null sec space. This can also help you get an idea of how any ratters you find there and how they may be fit in regards to tank, which then lets you dictate to your fleet which ammo types they should carry.
  • Check zkill/evekill (depending on preference) for kills in the area. See who was on them and when the kills happened. You’ll identify when a system or region is likely to be combat active, and who is likely to batphone who when fights escalate.
  • Killboards are also a good way to check the fits of potential opponents, assuming they actually lose a ship or two. This way you can try to tailor your fleet to what you may well face.
And of course an FC needs a sound grasp of the prominent game mechanics in your target area. For example if you roam faction warfare low sec, then understanding what plex size allows what class of ship is a must, as is how gate guns and aggression mechanics interact. I am not saying that an FC should be omnipotent or all knowing, but having some up front information is good for you and good for your fleet – for everything else you will have scouts.

Wanna be in my gang, my gang, my gang?!

You may have posted your op to your corp forums, reddit, EVEO forums, twitter, or an ingame channel. Your op may be a private roam or an open roam, however you did it and whatever its aim, you asked for specific ship types right? No? You took what intel you had, ignored it and simply asked for kitchen sink setups. A kitchen sink gang  is comprised of whatever the pilots wanted to fly on the night. No uniform damage ranges, damage types, tank types, speeds, warp speeds, or ship size. You see why this is wrong? While such fleets allow individual pilots to be more comfortable in themselves, for an FC your job becomes extremely tough. You have a harder time achieving your goals, even if it is something as simple as ‘kill dudes’. ku-bigpic When requesting a specific setup it does not have be hardcore nullsec fits like Slippery Petes, Foxcats or Alphafleet – it mostly has to be something that plays to your strengths, is still inclusive for all of your fleet mates and capable of fulfilling your aim for the op. For instance if you have a focus on armour, and want to run a cruiser fleet for ease of movement, then build your fleet around that. Ask for the following:
  • Armour fit DPS cruisers – Omens, Mallers, Thoraxes.
  • Armour logistics – Exequror, Augoror, Guardian, Onerios.
  • Armour fit EWAR – Arbitrator, Celestis, Blackbird (it’s legit I swear!)
  • Armour boosts – they could be in the form of something tanky to use on grid, or something that sites way out in space, either way if you can field them, then do so.
  • Tackle – fast frigates, heavy interdictors, interdictors. Ideally nothing should ever get away from you.
Obviously when you look at the ships requested for DPS in my example you will see they have different range spread. However you can fit weapon systems on to them that are very complimentary and allow for a similar range for damage projection, although good use of EWAR can negate any significant difference Whatever you choose, I cannot reiterate enough, pick something you are familiar with. This goes right back to what I wrote about being confident – if you are unfamiliar with a setup you pick, then you will not be as confident, your fleet then picks up on this and the whole op just becomes a negative experience for all.

Take a swing you will hit the target every time

After changing your fleet composition and waiting for OP night to come around, you get out into space and your scouts find a target for you to shoot. It could be a ratter, a roaming gang, or a fleet setup on a gate ready to attack as you enter system. Regardless of all of that what they really are, is potential killmails. Killmails will not generate themselves. It is up to you, once engaged, to ensure a steady stream of targets are presented to your fleet. How you do this is up to you, although the most common methods are:
  • Sort overview by name, make calls based on that. This is less than good though. And only really works if your setup / fleet size can truly overpower the opposition.
  • Sort overview by range, attack ships closest to your fleet. This can work as it builds a bubble of death around your fleet, but if your fleet positions itself poorly that “bubble” can work against you.
  • Sort overview by type, focus on a specific group of ships that are in your optimal range. Usually the support craft first, damage dealers next, anything left over is done as you please. As an FC remember to move your fleet around the field to keep your chosen targets in your fleets optimal range.
Whatever method you choose, ensure you broadcast the targets as you lock them up. This will move targets to the top of your fleets’ overview or broadcast window, thereby allowing your pilots to apply their damage all at the same time, overriding any logistics the target may have and turning the enemy into space dust. As said above, always try to focus on any support craft as priority – logistics, EWAR, recons and dictors. You may have to move around some on the grid to achieve this, especially if you jumped into the fight, but it is very important to do so as a unit. Standing still is not a good thing, as a clever opponent will use this against your fleet.

The end of nights we tried to die

Hopefully your fleet follows your broadcasts and your targets calls and you score a victory. At this point you regroup, reship any losses you suffered and buoyed by that victory, move further into space looking for more kills.
Tags: fc, FCing, mangala, pvp

About the author

Mangala Solaris

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.