(Editor’s Note: New Player Retention is a big topic for EVE Online. It’s important to any MMO, of course, but with retention levels as low as EVE’s, the search for ways to improve new players’ enjoyment of the game takes on special significance. As a result, it’s something that’s been talked about a lot. Discussions have ranged from the general topic to CCP Rise taking feedback on the new Opportunities system, discussions of the psychological differences between EVE and other MMOs, and even a primer on common scams new players have to deal with. In a similar vein, new players often have trouble with some aspects of fleet behavior. And sometimes, long-term players have trouble remembering the basics as well.)
There are some cardinal rules in fleet combat: shoot the primary, broadcast for reps, don’t jump unless the FC says so … the list goes on and on. Most people know them, and a lot of people stick to them – but we all know people that don’t. How many fleets have you been in where there haven’t been lemmings, where people have only turned up with the correct tank for your logibros, and where split damage didn’t happen? I could probably count the times that that has happened to me on Captain Hook’s fingers, and I don’t think I’m alone in that. People not following these unwritten rules lead to frustration – for the pilot, for the FC, and for the rest of the fleet. Sometimes, it’s laziness or sloppiness, but often enough, it’s just inexperience. So, these rules are widely known and sometimes followed, but for newer pilots it might be unclear why they exist in the first place.
Gate is Red
Okay then, so what’s the big deal with being the lemming? After all, it’s the lemming’s own ship that is at risk if, by jumping through a gate when told to hold, they end up in the biggest gate camp this side of PF-346. Nobody else is going to lose out, are they? Well, tell that to the scouts that have been patiently and surreptitiously keeping eyes on the intended target of the fleet, making sure that they aren’t even aware that they are being hunted; tell that to the intelligence networks that have been working behind the scenes to ensure that accurate information is made available on the targets; tell that to the spais in the target’s corporation who have been working to make sure that the enemy fleet is, erm, encouraged to be in the wrong place at the right time. Most importantly, tell that to the rest of the fleet who have been denied a juicy kill because their presence was betrayed to the target by a red suddenly appearing in local.
It’s not difficult to avoid being ‘that guy’ – use the ‘warp to’ button rather than ‘jump’ when traveling, know that ctrl-space is your friend, and always listen to the FC. If they don’t say ‘jump’, don’t jump – and if you’re not sure, absolutely do not ask in comms if he said jump, as the rest of the fleet will just hear ‘jump’, and, well, you can imagine the rest …
Lemmings can ruin the fun for everyone, so what about the next rule – shoot the primary. Let’s be honest, most people who PvP want to have lots of kills on their killboard. One way of doing that (apart from flying a ‘dictor and bubbling EVERYBODY on grid) is to pop off a couple of rounds on every ship that’s in targeting range. What’s the harm, right? You are only one ship in a whole fleet, what difference is that extra bit of DPS going to make? Well, imagine if everybody did that. The potential damage that your fleet could do would be spread across lots of enemies, meaning that the primary target, called by the FC as a major threat to you or a massive boost to them, receives less incoming damage which allows their reps to hold, meaning that no ship from the enemy fleet get popped, and they take great delight in focusing fire on you, blowing up every ship, popping every pod, and taking all the corpses away to a special station container somewhere where Bob only knows what happens. But at least you got on all the enemy kill mails though, didn’t you?
‘Broadcasting for reps – why do I need to do that?! I’ll just shout out for it on comms, everything will be fine!’. That’s what somebody who hates logibros says, because they think that there isn’t enough to do when flying logi. What’s one more thing on top of trying to keep a fleet alive in the face of disciplined enemy fire, making sure that the other logibros have enough capacitor, managing constantly changing targets, concentrating on watch lists, and listening out for a call to disengage? After all as soon as someone shouts ‘Halp! Halp! I’m being blapped’ all logibros will drop everything, know who ‘I’ is, target them and land those reps – why would anybody want to go through that massive pain-in-the-backside effort of that extra hot-key press just to make life a tiny bit easier for the space-priests? They should work harder!
Using the Right Tool
Right, you know not to jump unless told to jump, you’re only going to fire on the primary called by the FC, and if you start taking damage you know that your broadcast keys are your life-line. There’s a ping for a fleet going up, and in you jump. It’s a kitey shield cruiser fleet, but all you’ve got is a brawling armour battlecruiser. Oh, well – DPS is DPS, right? It’ll do the job of killing things.
Well, it will likely do that job – but what is most likely to be killed is you. The fleet composition relies on fast, agile movement, the FC knows the engagement range that is needed, and the logi is set up to keep shields healthy. And there you are, sitting in your fat-ass battlecruiser. You’re slowing everyone down in warp, broadcasting for armour when there is no armour logi, and unable to keep up with the rest of the fleet as they merrily kite away, putting DPS down-range from a distance that keeps them out of web and scram range. About the only good thing is that you will very soon not be sitting in your cattle-bruiser – rather you’ll be sitting in an ever-expanding field of sparkling ship debris, a victim of bringing the wrong ship to fleet. At least the rest of the fleet will now be considerably faster in warp.
This is only really scratching the surface of the things that you can do in fleet that will make your FC (or indeed the whole of the fleet) hate you. Not aligning when told, not understanding how to anchor, getting unnecessary aggression timers, using ECM on someone playing station games (or using ECM at all, in my opinion) … the list goes on. However, if you can manage to avoid falling into these big traps then your FC will thank you. Not verbally of course, but he will appreciate having fewer headaches to deal with. And so will your logibros, and everyone knows you need to keep logi happy or things can end very badly for your ship.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Wotan Mjolnir.