Fleet Command Basics
This is a guide into Basic Fleet command. Through this Page I will detail what I have learned about fleet command and how to start your journey into leading fleets. This will be an evolving wiki post that I will continue to update as I learn more about fleet command and what I find to be effective when leading fleets.
You should be familiar with basic fleet ops before leading your first fleet.
- 1 Why Lead Fleets into Combat?
- 2 Fleet Goals and Objectives
- 3 Chain of Command
- 4 Building Up a Fleet
- 5 Comms, Fleets, and You.
- 6 Picking a Route for Your Fleet
- 7 Fleet Doctrines
- 8 Basic Strategy
- 9 Getting a Fleet Killed -- a Good Learning Tool
- 10 Additional Reading for Learning How to Be a Fleet Commander
Why Lead Fleets into Combat?
This is an interesting question and one that I feel is the most important one. Why should someone lead a fleet? You should lead a fleet for several reasons. First, when you take a fleet out to fight you are creating content for both yourself, the players you are fighting, and your fleet mates. Eve is driven by player created content so if no one leads there is no content. The second reason you should lead a fleet it develop and expanded your knowledge of pvp. If you want to develop and expand on pvp skills for the game of EVE, commanding a fleet is something you should look at doing. It may be your cup of tea, or it may not be, but either way it is a very rewarding experience.
Fleet Goals and Objectives
This is one of the hardest parts of commanding a fleet. What is it that your fleet is setting out to do? Are you going to try and take an objective? Find good fights anywhere you can? Your goals and objectives determine what type of fleet to bring to the party and should also outline what types of fights you are or aren’t going to take to try and ensure victory for your fleet. For every fleet, you need to have a goal be it as simple as trying to find fights. This ensures you know what your fleet is looking to achieve and how to best tailor your fleet to achieving those goals.
Chain of Command
Setting up an effective and decisive chain of command is the corner stone of any good fleet operation. The number of people that need to have command roles expands as the fleet numbers expand and what you are taking with you on your fleets to try and reach your objectives and goals. A fleet that is trying to kill capital ships is going to have different goals and a different fleet composition than one that is trying to just find fights in low sec in a small gang.
My Primary Set Up
- Me as FC
- Second FC if I go down
- Third FC, if the fleet is big, or disengagement caller in case both the FC and 2FC get killed
- Scout to find a route that has recent activity
- Wing commander to set up the buff chain
- Logi commander if I have logi
Building Up a Fleet
This part is both one of the easiest and most frustrating jobs as an FC. You need to get the numbers you want to support your group while still trying to keep things moving at a good pace. My general build up lasts anywhere from 15 min to an hour depending on the numbers I’m looking for the op I am doing. For a new Eve University FC, my advice is put up an advert in the Alliance chat channel and see what you get and head out. As you progress as an FC, you will find what works for you and how many people are doing what you need.
Before leading your first fleet, it will help to read up on how to form a fleet.
Comms, Fleets, and You.
I always run open comms during my fleets, meaning the fleet members are free to chat. This being said, however, I use some key phrases to keep the comms open at the times they need to be open and clear when they need to be clear. The first command I give during a fleet is, "If I am talking about the fleet my comms are clear." This works very well most of the time and if not I remind people that the fleet comes before side conversations. The second command is "Break Break Break." This tells people to stop talking and listen to what information needs to be relayed. The third and final command is "Combat comms" to keep the comms clear during combat situations. I am sure that other FCs use different methods of comms. This is just my personal method.
Picking a Route for Your Fleet
Depending on your fleet's goals and objectives, a good route can be crucial to your success. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a route for a strategic objective fleet. How are you going to reship people who die? How are you going to get reinforcements to you if you need to bring more people into the fight? How far are you from additional support if you find a hard target that needs to be cracked? Dotlan is an amazing tool for this. For most of my fleets I just go looking for a fight, so the route is unimportant for me. My goal is to find a fight, reship people after a fight, and then go find another one.
Every single alliance and group seems to fly their own unique brand of fleet doctrines. As an FC, I tend to stick with either the Kitchen Sink fleet (bring what you want) with cruisers and below. Frigate Fleets -- T1 frigates that can move fast and engage targets. Or a shield doctrine. There are many different styles of doctrines and as you develop as an FC you will tailor doctrines or fly doctrines that will help you to achieve your fleet's goals and objectives. The best advice I can give to a new FC is to start with the Kitchen Sink and find what feels right to you.
The UniWiki guide on doctrines will help you understand this better.
Know what fights you want to take and what fights you don’t. The best advice given to me when I started was, if I didn’t know I couldn’t win, take the fight. Gate camps are your friend; shiny flashies have a tendency to come to you if you wait. The UniWiki guide on gate camps should help.
Having a good scout that can find you fights and let you know what is coming into your fleet is crucial for being able to decide on a strategy on the fly. Your scout (or scouts) is one of the most crucial factors in having a successful fleet.
Make sure you always have an exit strategy. Getting your fleet out of a bad situation can be one of the best things you can do as a fleet commander. Taking out the ships tackling your ships and then exiting the field can both save resources and get a majority of your fleet out of harm’s way rather than getting it destroyed.
Getting a Fleet Killed -- a Good Learning Tool
I have had a fair number of fleets with both great successes where we held the field and failures where we were utterly crushed. A fleet that is crushed is a great learning tool for developing yourself as an FC. You need to take a look at why you were unable to hold the field and got destroyed.
I will use one of my own previous fleets as an example of how to learn from what went wrong and what we could have done differently. My scouts reported that there was an enemy gate camp on the other side of the gate. I had a Kitchen Sink fleet of about 20 people and the enemy had about 6 reported contacts. There was thirty seconds until the scout's gate cloak broke. Assessing the situation, I knew it was unwinnable. The enemy had 2 t3 cruisers, 1 command ship, 1 battle ship, 1 logi, and a cruiser. This was a fight where we couldn’t hold the field but I believed that we could cause damage to the enemy fleet by either destroying 1 of the t3 or driving them off grid then picking apart the weaker support ships before we had to leave.
I ordered the fleet to "jump jump jump" and we took the fight. Using the gate guns to our advantage, we nearly destroyed one t3 cruiser before being forced to switch to the second one as more enemy logi and support hit grid. After taking losses, we extracted from that situation, losing about half the fleet. I learned that I needed to have my scouts bounce around some more before we took the fight and see what the enemy had off grid. I also learned that when you see one logi ship there are generally more hiding somewhere else waiting to engage you.
A killed or lost fleet is a great way to learn vital lessons. It is not bad to get killed or beaten as long as you look to see the reasons why it happened and learn from them.
Additional Reading for Learning How to Be a Fleet Commander