The hall was full and Mike was once again in the wings. “I do NOT know why I let you talk me into these things.”
“You like the chance to talk . . .the campaign is over, I thought I would give you another chance to discuss the Incursions to some prospective pilots.”
“Prospective Pilots? I looked out there, some of them barely look like they should be allowed out after dark!”
The chancellor chortled and patted Mikes back. “Just say what you plan to say and please don’t shoot any of my students.”
Mike shrugged to make sure his holster was in place and riding correctly. “No promises.”
A minute or two later he was once again looking out at an audience of faces foolishly expecting words of wisdom. “I want to talk to you about FC’s. Not the how to, I don’t know enough to be able to lecture you on that . . . but if you join a fleet you should know what you are getting into an be able to evaluate what is going on.”
“Why? Aren’t you already committed?” The question was loud enough for most to hear.
“Yes, and no. If you see missing procedures you can ask for the details. If the fleet feels way too loose you have to decide whether your ship and the lives of your crew belong in the care of a stranger you don’t think is doing the job.
From the top is the invite. Where and how is the call going out? There are layers to the channels and the better you are, the more layers you will see. IF you are good and fly well then you will be first picked when an incursion fleet forms. If you cause grief . . . well I will get to that later. Are they looking at fits? do they know what they want or just yelling for bodies. A good FC knows what fleet composition he wants and will advertise accordingly. A less experienced one is just yelling ‘fleet up for Amarr and not even specifying armor or shield, let alone what class of ship or combat missions they are considering.”
“How do you get into the proper channel layers?” Another question from the floor.
“Good question. The fleets are less trusting than they once were and often you will have to be vouched for by a known pilot to the FC. After being in a fleet for a few missions you might ask if there is a channel you can join or be invited to . . . but understand THIS. If you ar ANYBODY in your fleet or alliance commits an act of betrayal then often the whole alliance is blacklisted. This is totally unfair and totally necessary. We would rather miss a few good pilots than lose all of our logistics to a bad call in recruiting. If you have someone in your organization who thinks it is fun to cause grief . . . or if they have in the past your CEO or Diplomats can take the Blacklisting up with fleet organizers. Incursions are ad-hoc groupings and, as such, trust is the most precious commodity we have. We do not give it away and it must be earned.
Where was I . . . advertising. Then comes the invite. I can tell a lot about a fleet as soon as the invite processes. I look to see if the fleet table of organization is sorted and named. I watch to see if voice comms are default. I look to see if there are names I know in the fleet. HardinSalvor, Fox Andromeda, Grantevious, Divya Darnel, all of these names make me feel easier about joining because their very presence assures me of the fleet composition. As you fly you will form your own list of names that you know and trust. If you are very good you will become one of the names others look for in a fleet.”
Mike laughed loudly. ‘Mine? No, I am a logistics pilot or a booster . . . not a big name. The only reason the professor brought me here is because the real high end pilots are busy defending right now and I happened to be dropping in. So . . . ” He ticked off on his fingers “Advert, fleet org, names, what’s next. Ah, preflight. The good FC’s make sure everyone is on the same page. You can tell competence by how well they deliver the preflight rundown. Who is anchor, does he talk to the logistics leader to see if the cap-chains are set up, does he identify callers for close and snipe, does he review the entry order and on what count you will activate the gate . . . ”
“Count?” The pilot seemed confused.
“Some FC’s just call for everyone to activate the gate at once. I prefer a staggered launch with a good solid ship and the damage dealers going in early to attract the attention of the enemy and then the logistics coming on field to keep things going. The alpha strike (initial damage wave) of some incursions could instantly kill a logistics if things went the wrong way. Last fleet I was in did a slow count and on the third, the combats went in, on the fifth count the logistics warped. It works well and I like the comfort of knowing the organization is there right from the start. Another good measure is how a FC handles Leeroys. I have seen a fleet close enough to prepared that we have gone in. I have accidentlay been the Leeroy and the FC wisely called the rest of fleet to hold position and allow me to die.” He paused.
“Die?” The hush in the room was palpable.
“I lost my ship and a many good crew members. Remember, when you fly in a fleet what you do has an effect on more than just your own isk balance. People depend on you to do the right thing at the right time.” He rubbed his face with both hands. “So you warp in on schedule and now it is up to you to do your job and keep an eye on your areas of responsibilty. If you are a sniper there should be a specific target caller for you that gives you the ships in priority order. You do not split fire to ‘speed things up’ you do not wander off away from the fleet unbless you have announced what you plan to do. Damage dealers focus their fire for a reason . . .only missile shooters can switch off before a target is eleiminated as their delay of incoming sometimes would result in shooting a wreck. Logistics watch fleet calls and keep the ships running. Specialty ships like hackers or miners know what they have to do and they do it on schedule. The FC keeps a steady flow to things, not yelling and allowing for some humour but he knows when to clear comms as in when reinforcement waves are incoming.”
Mike started to laugh. “You should hear Gavascon do the Public service announcements. It is a light-hearted moment in the middle of battle but it does serve as a reminder of fleet procedure, just the same. The last thing you look to is the aftermath. You have won a battle, what then? A good FC has another target in mind, he asks if any ships must leave and recruits to fill the slots. If any ships were lost then a reimbursement policy is in place. He is watching local to see if there are other fleets or known griefing organizations.”
Mike leaned forward on the lectern. ‘It comes down to this. The FC does not have to be the best pilot, he does not have to fly the best ship. He DOES have to have his shit together. If some of you plan on taking on this thankless task then you need to find a good one and train, watch what the good ones do and where the bad ones screw up. Read the material on Sansha tactics. Get into a fleet and learn what each ship should be doing.”
“Like Captain Azariah is doing.” The professor had stepped back onto the stage. “While he calls himself a logie pilot and occasional booster the Concord records show that he has flown . . .” he consulted his comm. “An Abaddon, Dominix, Rokh, Sliepnir, Claymore, Scorpion, Scimitar, Oneiros, Guardian, Brutix, Ferox, and Rifter in various incursions sites. He currently is here to pick up another degree, a PhD in as an Executive Commander in a Caldari Business School.”
Mike leaned over. “I think they missed one or two. Yes, well. I will now open the floor to questions but before you ask . . . I do not know you so even if I could, I would not tell you of the layered channels. I am not yet what I consider ready to FC so don’t ask to be in one of my fleets and lastly, but most importantly, ladies . . . I am currently spoken for, so it with great regret, no.
A good FC is worth his weight in gold
Yes, lists and channels and elitism is in place. You aren’t locked out of it but it is not a wide open door either.
I am probably missing things in the above list. I am especially missing a lot of other names I know and respect in the incursions . . . . those were just the first few off of the top of my head coming off of a pair of Headquarters runs.
fly it like you won it