Thursday, August 29, 2013

Eve Online: Fleet Commanders

Just a caveat before I get started. I am not a fleet commander, and don't even pretend to be one on TV. My experience that I will share for this article is from the point of view of a member of the fleet, and not from the captain's chair. 

I've been playing Eve for about 6 months now, and in my short time I have had the pleasure and pain of flying with fleet commanders with varying levels of competence.

Early on in my experience I had the pleasure of flying with some small gangs where the FC had a few years of experience. He taught us how to align to the gate, warp as a fleet, observation points, safe spots, burning back to gate, optimal range, and the dreaded roams through low sec and null sec looking for a fight. He'd have us put together a kitchen sink fleet as long as it was cruiser or smaller and we'd go looking for a fight. 90% of the time we got our butts handed to us, but on those rare occasions we landed on a lone rifter or whatever we basked in our kill and talked about it for hours. "Our 5 Frigates, 3 Destroyers, and 3 Cruisers totally killed that Rifter!!!"

We were so proud of ourselves.

Countless mistakes were made on our fleets part, but our fleet commander was always great and made quick and decisive decisions. None of us were ever upset that we lost our ships, because we fully accepted that could be the reality when we undocked and headed out to meet our destiny.

Many months later I had the pleasure again of flying with a one of Initiative's head fleet commanders and I once again saw what a strong FC can bring to a fight. His understanding of his fleet doctrines, intelligence gathering from scouts, proper tactics to use, respect from his fleet, and control of the comms was amazing to witness.

Recently I have been witnessing the exact opposite of good fleet commanders. They go AFK during a fight, if they get remote sensor dampened they scream into comms "Someone else FC, I'm sensor dampened", they take WAY too long to make a decision, and we keep dying over and over again.

I don't mind dying and losing my ships at all, but I hate to die when it could have been easily prevented.

Two days ago a group of 10 caracals were roaming through our space and were 2 jumps away while we were sitting on a gate they had to come through. We had an Armageddon, 2 Dominix, 3 blaster Talos, A sabre, an interceptor, and 3 Vexors. We were ready to fight and KNEW beyond a reasonable doubt we could wipe the floor with the caracal fleet. I ask in comms since they are completely quiet "FC, are we fighting or running".... 30 seconds go by no response. Intel says over comms they are jumping into the next system "FC Are we fighting or running?" .... No Response.

Scout says "They are landing on the gate", FC says "We are running, everyone go to a safe spot". Frustrated and annoyed I still obey orders and warp away as the fleet is jumping into system. We lose an Armageddon and a Dominix because they couldn't warp away fast enough. Later he blamed it on everyone else, then reluctantly said he'd pay for the lost ships (which never happened).

Later back in our system, the caracal gang showed up and started camping our station. We had 20+ pilots docked up in station so the FC says "Let's undock and fight them", to which people start undocking one at a time and getting blapped one at a time, not realizing there isn't an actual fleet outside fighting back, just solo pilots undocking and getting popped. I undocked in a Navy Issue Vexor and I see we have two carriers undocked as well. I launched my full flight of sentry drones and started to attack the Caracal that the FC called primary. I was immediately called primary (since there was only about 4 ships undocked) and I melted pretty fast. I warp away in my pod and wait to come back when my aggression timer is done.

The FC starts screaming like a baby to "stop dying!" and after 10-15 minutes finally tells everyone to stop undocking. We lost multiple battleships, multiple cruisers and basically got our asses handed to us by someone we should have been able to take on with little problem. It was an outright embarrassment to be associated with that fleet. The fleet commander then proceeds to yell at me for undocking in a Navy Issue Vexor and says he never wants me to fly that ship again and he doesn't want to ever see it on our killboards ever again. I argue for a few minutes but eventually I bite my tongue and said "Ok, I'll follow orders", because I don't want to have our entire corporation kicked out of alliance and everyone have their stuff stuck in station with no access to it.

This long annoying day is only one of the many frustrating experiences lately with this new alliance. I have already moved most of my stuff out of their space. I think I'm done with the whole Alliance thing for a while, too much of a bad taste in my mouth. I'm highly considering going to live in a wormhole for a while until things blow over.


  1. Yeah, that's pretty much the essence of it. At first,it's surprising how much incompetent leadership exists. But it makes sense. Being a good leader is a rare quality that few know how to develop. What ends up happening is that they *look* like leaders, but in reality they're simply parroting those they've seen lead before rather than evaluate the decisions and actions they make by their own merit.

    Wormholes are nice. Generally, you'll be free of a lot of the politics (the name adults have for childish bickering) that you'd get in a poorly-run alliance with little leadership capital. But wormholes take a lot of work. And they can get pretty lonely if activity drops.

    That's why I moved to low-sec. I just shoot stuff on my own, do what I want, and have other competent pilots in corp to back me up when it's needed.

    It's ridiculous to have an FC who's only reaction to what is going on is to shout helplessly, "quit dying!" Instead, he should instruct the fleet to dock, take a quick stock of assets at hand, briefly relay a basic plan, and give his mark to undock. Such a leader commands respect from those under him, providing, in turn, for a more efficient fleet operation. Don't feel the least bit guilty for deciding to abandon ship (figuratively, that is).

    1. Good leadership is definitely a rare quality.

      Most of the "leaders" I've seen in Eve are people that have 5-10 years of experience flying in Eve. Just because they have more skill points than other people does NOT make them a good fleet commander or leader.

      Wormholes can definitely get lonely, but we're connected to high sec,and have random other connections every other day it seems, so we've got various things to help entertain us. If nothing else is going on, we can just fleet up, leave the wormhole and go look for some fun in Null Sec or Low Sec.