In a similar light to Azual's Know Your Enemy Series(starting here with T1 Frigates), I am going to attempt to break down FCing. I know what is being thought, "FCing is dependent on each person and differs as such." True. "This subject has been beaten into the ground." Also True. However, There are still basic principles and guidelines that are universal to FCing, that and it doesn't hurt to revisit the basics.
The basics to FCing, or Fleet Command for newer people to Eve, are fairly straight forward. You have your fleet composition and knowing its strengths and weaknesses, situational awareness, willingness to act, communication, tactical assessment ability, and the ability to learn from you mistakes.
One of the things I personally think about when running a fleet is "What ship types do I want to utilize?" Now nothing can be as fun as just grabbing a group of people, forming a gang, and saying bring what you want to bring. The thing to remember is knowing what they DO bring. More on that scenario in a bit. Different gang comps have different strengths and weaknesses, as do most ships. For example: Nanoshag gangs, which utilize speed and agility over pure firepower, are excellent kiters but not the best brawlers due to their more fragile nature. Not knowing this, and say taking a Nanoshag gang into a brawl with Battleships or Battlecruisers can be deadly. This not to say it is not doable, again I get ahead of myself lol.
So whether you are taking out a Themed gang(like say Toads and Lizards, which if you want to know what that is come on out to Syndicate and we will show ya :D) or just the flavor of everyones hour, knowing what you have and how it can perform against possible opposition is detrimental to increasing the odds of bringing everyone back safely with stories of the kills verses dying in a ball of flame and cursing incompetence.
All of these topics are very important pieces of the FC puzzle, but probably none are as important as Situational Awareness.
I don't believe there is anything that has gotten more gangs decimated then a FC not knowing everything that is going on during the fight and missing that critical piece of information. Know who is on grid, what reinforcements are on their way, who has been killed and what ships you still have at your disposal(ie do you still have tacklers or heavy dps?), what ewar or logi the enemy has at their disposal. All of these things and more constitute SA. I am probably going to do a more dedicated post on this subject in the future, as there is a host of information out there on SA and ways to ease the burden.
The Willingness to Act
This is another one of those things that can make or break a FC. I probably wont go into depth on this subject as it is fairly self explanatory. Basically it comes down to finding a balance between timid and suicidal, also known as cautious and aggressive lol. It basically boils down to this: Do not be to timid and bore your fleet to death, but also do not throw them into fire and death. I am not afraid to suicide a fleet, but only if i know that we will win the isk war in the end. For example, I would not take a 9 person Hornet Fleet and throw them at a 20 man Nanoshag fleet with logi and T3/command support. I would however throw them at a 10 man Nanoshag hoping to take out 2-3 of their ships first...so long as a ton of canes and curses are not on the field lol. 2 vagas in my mind make up for 3-4 AFs, and it really pisses the opposition off :) .
By and far tied with SA on most important aspect to a fleet. If you cant communicate properly then you might as well afk the fleet on a gate in a busy pipe. Know when to make battlecomms and always enforce them. Know what pieces of information are immediately vital and what info you can tuck away til later. Make sure your fleet communicates as well. One of Agony's best FC's (imho), Glepp, said it best. If you are going to do an action say so. If not, also say so, so as not to provide confusion. Make sure Recon reports are kept short and to the point, it speeds up reaction time. If you ask for a fleet member to do an action make sure you get a confirmation, do not assume that they heard you and are doing it. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT. Always repeat orders, as often as necessary. Always repeat orders, as often as necessary. Always repeat orders, as often as necessary. You know by doing so that the order has been heard by enough people to make it worthwhile to proceed. Broadcast actions. A lot of people forget that this is a valid form of communication. It clears comms up for more critical information verses having 10 people calling out for reps and trying to figure out who said what. It is also good for setting destinations for those too busy to read fleet chat. Anger on comms. We all get frustrated. The drake that we should have tackled and killed somehow gets away, that one person who doesn't listen and constantly needs prodded, lack of targets or even lack of sleep. It happens to all for all of us. The most important thing to remember is try not to yell. It is best to approach the situation with a calm, yet stern voice, not
This is a tricky subject, one that I have issues with because of lack of experience. That is exactly how this is learned as well, experience. Every fight is different. Do you opt to kill the Falcon that is 80km away yet jamming everyone, or do you try and kill some of the dps that is slowly wheedling down your fleet. It all depends and I can't tell you what s best. AT least not yet. I will provide a reference link to a blog post by Azual on this subject that is far more in depth then I can provide atm.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Mistake. We all make them. The best FC in the game makes them. The only thing we can do is own up to the mistakes we make, and learn from them. Hold Verbal AARs after every gang. Make sure to go over anything that could be improved upon. Make thorough written AARs for the same reason, so other people in your corp or alliance can learn from your mistakes. Understand what is was that went wrong. The number one thing is do not get discouraged. Just know that shit happens, pick yourself up dust off, and move on!
That pretty much wraps up my first installment on FCing. Part two will cover a subject that I think is important(others might disagree). What ship should I fly when I FC? So stay tuned!
References for Tactical Assessment
Azual's personal Threat Assessments
Threat Assessment-What Makes a Good Primary
Article on FCing, written by Agony CEO, Christina Bamar
FCing-The Softer SIde