Mentioned before that I got started running incursions with The Ditanian Fleet. Well, I still am, and recently acquired my ‘Training FC’ tags. What this means is I’m at a stage where I’m asking as many questions as I can, trainers and current FCs throw hypothetical scenarios at me, and when I ask or an FC asks me to, I am to head what they call a training fleet. In TDF, an incursion training fleet (for Vanguard sites, which require fleets of around 10-11 people) includes one extra logistics pilot to the usual two for a little more safety, and involves a current FC/trainer to oversee the training FC as the ‘backseat’.
Basically, for the rest of the pilots involved, it’s business as usual (with an extra logibro), and in the event something causes the training FC to mess up, there is a safety net in the form of that extra logistics, and the ability for the backseat to take over.
I’ve been thinking about their structure and how to adapt it to the demand for FC training here in our little pirate alliance. There are two things I’ve noticed about the numerous incursion FCs I’ve run with to date. Those are:
1) They all possess knowledge which gives them confidence, and
2) They all have their own unique style of leading.
At its most simplistic, this are the two factors you can look at when assessing fleet commanders. The first, possessing confidence and knowledge, can be that foundation all FCs in their field (from null-sec PvP to mining fleet commanders, if they even exist :P). Whilst teaching them to be responsible for their actions, confident in issuing commands, and knowledgeable, you must still give them breathing space to stretch their own wings.
That is a super important factor I want to imbue in whatever training program we issue to our new FCs. I want to be able to let them think for themselves. Telling them to watch a video is not enough. Telling them to read hundreds of guides, is not enough. In the end, the materials you give them should not be what they rely on completely. They should rely on themselves. When they whelp a fleet, they should go “shit, I should’ve aligned out before telling them to assign drones” not “well, chapter 4 of How to Whelp Fleets Effectively told me to do this, so I did.”
Of those two factors, you will now realise, I believe strongly the second is more important. EVE, as I have to constantly remind myself, is a game. You want to bring fun to the players, and I truly believe fun is achieved when someone can be themselves, even as the FC. The initial fleets I led didn’t go so great. I took responsibility, that was good. But still, I was not having fun because I was constantly worried my fleet wasn’t having fun getting killed all the time. Eventually, we started getting kills, now we’re getting more kills than we are dying, and I breathe easier and when I lead our fleet I do so with much more rashness and spontaneity, which is much more me than worrying about the fleet at every corner to the point it’s stifling. Perhaps it’s the kills, but I feel our pilots much prefer the reckless, full-steam-ahead me than my initial FCing, where I was apologising over and over after every fleet. They had more fun when I had more fun.
And for an FC to have fun he cannot be stressing over whether every action he made was the right one. What my incursion friends have been telling me about FCing, and it’s something I’ve taken to heart, is that the fleet follows the FC, as long as the FC can explain what he’s doing.
Explaining, though, is not reciting chapter 4 of How to Whelp Fleets Effectively. Explaining is outlining your personal thought process when you decided to send the fleet in to their doom, or preferably their victory. Therein lies the why and what the FC was thinking, and therein should lie the reason why the fleet should put their trust in the FC (or not).
How do I intend to make my FCs capable of doing this? This is the hard part. For incursions, especially if you’re training an FC for the smaller Vanguard sites, there’s a grand total of 3 different sites you can put your pilots into. Over time, streamlined fleet structures have been developed to effectively perform these sites with minimal risk. In PvP, this is obviously different; the exact same fleet can expect to see totally different encounters to what they would’ve fought the day before, even travelling through the same area.
The necessity to hammer in knowledge, therefore, grows tenfold. Knowledge, battle expertise, leads to confidence, and as I said, there’s your foundation.
The best way to achieve this is practical experience. The reading or viewing materials you can provide for a new FC will help, but nothing helps more than taking them out onto the field and watching them learn for themselves. Of course, this is the most time-consuming option for the trainer, but coming up with a way to make that fun for teachers is something I’ll leave to the teachers. Some draw enjoyment from watching their trainees fail (there are some evil people out there -evil-), others are happy with the simple pleasure of not being responsible.
SO. Analogy time.
Incursion FCs give their trainees the BARE MINIMUM, the framework, and send them on their way to fill in the gaps. I imagine their framework to be the skeleton of a house. Once they build the house, they’re free to decorate it how they like.
PvP FCs require a larger, much larger framework. The skeleton of a whole city. The challenge is teaching them how to finish a few buildings, then send them on their way, without leaving too much of an imprint on them to paint and furnish every other building the same way.
In my personal opinion, this can only come if the buildings they build are constantly knocked over, and they constantly rebuild. An unending cycle of destruction, construction, reinforcement. Or, as they say, Ancorā impāro. In our real world, people are screened before they can reach for opportunities. Whether the filters are age, experience, knowledge, connections or money, who knows whether they have just been rejected from the job they could’ve flourished in. So here, in New Eden, I want to give every FC who asks me to train them the opportunity to fly, without having their wings clipped before they even leave the ground.