Glepp's Guide to Fleet Command

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Original text by Glepp, 24th May 2012


I thought I'd put some useful words down on paper, so to speak. Just some helpful hints to those who want to try out FCing. You'll note it's got nothing on tactics. More psychology.

Now, Agony from time to time suffers from a rut and activity drops. Usually this is due to exams, new games, or people wanting to sit outside in the sun drinking pina coladas or whatnot. However, this is also sometimes due to our regular FCs going AFG for the same reasons. When that happens, it's a golden opportunity for new people to step up and take charge. Not everyone can FC well, but far more people can than actually think they can. The biggest problem when it comes to FCing is to actually try it out and find out if you're good at it or not, and too many people don't want to take that first step.

Now, just doing it is easy to say, but harder to actually do. But getting over that hurdle is kind of the entry ticket. Let's get down to the practicals:

Start with something you like and know.

  • You like to fly a ship? Cool, get more of them together and start calling the shots. Post an op with that kind of ships. You already know its capabilities and weaknesses. If you like to solo in it, FCing is not very different. You just need to get more people to do the same stuff as you do when you solo, and you can kill bigger stuff.
  • You like soloing in T1 frigs? Post a T1 frig gang and go out. Like nanocanes? Get some more. Kill shit. When I started FCing, I had been soloing in T1 frigs for a long time and my first gang was just that, along with some arty thrashers, just for kicks. It didn't fare exceptionally well, but we got some kills and had fun. Well, I hope the others did, I was mostly stressed and had a thundering headache after an hour and a half. But the adrenaline was awesome, and my hands shook like never before.

Learn to listen to recon reports and second guess other FCs.

  • Yeah, that's right. I want you to second guess me when I FC. Just keep it to yourself!
  • Make a mental game of identifying when your FC is making a good or bad decision and what you would do instead. Keep doing that, and if you also get annoyed because the FC is making bad calls, you're on the right track. Just keep it to yourself until the AAR.
  • If you find that your second guesses are often right, then you might just have the stuff needed to be really good. If not, then practice more.

Find a way to deal with the nerves.

  • Yeah, you will get nervous. My first FC, I wanted to cancel up until the last 2 minutes and then events caught me and I just got into it. That bit is important. Stop thinking and start acting is a good way to deal with it.
  • Another is to form the fleet, announce an XO and then go empty your nervous bowels (I always do this, btw).
  • A third way is to start ordering scouts about, and getting the fleet out and formed on the POS to get things rolling.
  • The important bit is to get over the first step and start acting.
  • The nerves will get better but if you're lucky they'll never go away. You need that edge and drive. I've only ever cancelled one fleet due to nerves getting the better part of me.

Learn to form mental images.

  • As FC, unless you're scouting yourself in a covops alt, you're blind.
  • Have you ever played the game where you have to navigate a maze blindfolded and all you have to rely on is one guy telling you where to go? That's what FCing is like. You can't actually see what's going on in other systems or on other grids that the one you're at. You have to learn to form a mental picture of opposing gangs purely from what your scouts tell you.
  • Practice this when you go on gangs with other FCs.
  • Practice when you're skirmishing for others.
  • Think about how you relay information and how that conveys a mental image to the FC.

Learn to work with scouts and skirmishers.

  • The best way to do this, is to scout and skirmish yourself and learn to navigate null with confidence while relaying intel to the FC.
  • It's not a must but it's a good way to get into things.
  • Spending time on TS and talking to people, getting to know their voices also helps.
  • Being active and getting to know the local area well helps a lot also; not having to think "where am I" in relation to the rest of the region reduces your stress level that much more.

Learn to deal with information overload.

  • Information overload is what happens when more intel comes in than you are able to process. This gets better with experience, as your ability to process intel reports improves. However, learning some basic techniques helps a lot.
  • One thing I do is to quickly filter out stuff that's more than five systems away as irrelevant if we're busy.
  • I also often tell scouts not to report stuff that's not a easily available target or threat I need to know about right now. It's ok to give that feedback to your scouts, especially when there's a lot going on. You can usually trust people in Agony to speak up when there's some danger you're obviously not aware of.
  • Another trick is to get the gang safe until you've got your head above water again. Just recognize when it's happening and that it needs to be dealt with and don't get stressed out.
  • If push comes to shove, you can always dock the gang up or log it off or tell someone else to take over. Just tell people you've got Information Overload and own up to it. We're benign in here.

Learn to deal with loss

  • Hey, you just got the gang wiped? Feel like a failure? Got a lump in your tummy? Sucks, don't it? Yeah, I feel like that when a fleet goes badly. Always have, always will. It's what gives me the drive to succeed and the desire to log back in.
  • This is Eve. Losses actually mean something. No other game I know makes me feel like that. The feeling when you succeed is equally great. Remember that.
  • Now, you just need to shake it off and get back up on the horse. Step away from the computer or don't. Go outside and do something fun, or just take another gang out straight away. There's no correct way to do it, we're all different.
  • Just don't take it to harshly. If you haven't wiped a fleet due to some silly mistake, then you're not a proper FC yet. I've taken gangs out where I decided to get us all killed just to learn to deal with it. As can you. People don't mind.

Fight off indecision.

  • Indecision is your worst enemy as FC. Doing nothing is often worse than getting everyone killed. Indecision breeds on itself and multiplies, robbing you of initiative.
  • Best way I can think of is to just make a gut call and decide to roll with it. Let one decision take the other and pretty soon, you've gotten over it.

Well, that's all I can think of right now. I'll add more as it pops into my head. Thanks for reading.