Of Fleets, and Squads, and Wings…

The time has come, my little friends,
to talk of other things
Of shoes and ships and sealing wax,
of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot,
and whether pigs have wings
Calloo, Callay, come run away
With the cabbages and kings.

The Walrus, Alice in Wonderland

With the fruition of long skill training cycles by both Gaff and Potshot, there has been a renewed interest in EVE Online.  Last week would have found us all in Warhammer Online if we had a spare moment.  This week though, we have been spending more time in New Eden.

And, being there and actually within a few jumps of each other, and with an alt a piece logged on, we have had opportunities to group up for missions and mining ventures.

This has meant learning some of the ropes of fleets, wings, and squads.  We all have trained up Mining Foreman to at least IV on one of our accounts, and Wilhelm also has Information Warfare III, Skirmish Warfare III, and Siege Warfare IV trained as well.

Those skills only work when you are grouped up and in the same solar system.  And, as is usual in EVE, there is a right way and a wrong way to group up.

By default, when you invite somebody to form a fleet, you are made the fleet commander.  However, unless you have the right leadership skills, you cannot really command a fleet.  The only warning there is about this is a little red X in the fleet window.  If you mouse over the X, it tells you that you do not have the skills to command a fleet.  The implication is that boosts from the above skills may not apply in that case.

Note the red X in the upper left

Note the red X in the upper left

I found however, if I made myself the squad commander via a slightly squirrelly set of nested sub-menus in the fleet window, I could make the red X go away.

I hate zig-zagging sub menus

I hate zig-zagging sub menus

With me as the squad commander, I got a green check mark.

Green is Good

Green is Good

For me, that was success.  So, from that point forward, my goal in any group was to get that green check mark before proceeding off to a mission or mining event.

I had to convince other people of this however because, in true EVE fashion, it isn’t cut and dried.  You can get these skill boosts to work for some members, some of the time, and still have the red X showing.  If you are the fleet commander but lack the skills, you can still make somebody in a squad the squad booster, and at least that person will get the benefit.

And even when we got everybody in the same squad at one point, it turned out that the squad leader only had Leadership 1 trained, which meant that they could only lead a squad of 2 people, so the red X was there and the boost was absent from some of us.

Still, I think I got my message across: Red X = Bad, Green Check = Good.  It was not a mad power grab by myself, I just happened to be the only one in the squad with Leadership IV trained.  So that lesson has been learned and accepted.

But the question presents itself: Why is forming a fleet the default option for grouping?  Why is it the only start point for grouping?

Being able to command a fleet requires a 50+ day training investment plus 20 million ISK for the skill, so I am willing to bet that few people have invested that much for the privileged of commanding a fleet.

It is almost the equivalent of having to form a raid in World of Warcraft or EverQuest II, then having to pare the raid back to a group so you can run off and do what you want with your friends and get quest credit for doing group level activities.

Back when squads were called “gangs” in EVE Online, it used to be the opposite.  You would create a gang and work up from there.

Are mere squad activities so uncommon… and are fleet activities so common… that a fleet is rightly the default group formation?

2 thoughts on “Of Fleets, and Squads, and Wings…

  1. michael, St Erroneous

    “Why is forming a fleet the default option for grouping? Why is it the only start point for grouping?”

    Why have two in-game mechanics when one will do?

    Fleets work for adhoc missioning, carrier group hotdrops, and those small mining gangs when you just want all the haulers in a separate squad so you can keep track of things…

    Now, the GUI isn’t wonderful, and there should be a decent tutorial, but “Form fleet with..” “Invite to Fleet->Squad Member” and “Leave fleet” (if you can find it) aren’t incomprehensible.

    Converting a large gang to a fleet during the period when the structures co-existed was tedious, btw, I really wouldn’t recommended it as an experience. Better to make a coherent system that can scale down than start with something flat and try to kludge it up. Whether CCP have succeeded in that, I’m not sure. :)

    Independent squads that can gangwarp to each other: handy things to have in PvP.

    Commanding a fleet doesn’t actually _require_ the FC skill – that’s only needed for bonus propagation. Gangwarp, tagging, broadcasts all work without any of them. Few of the PvP fleets I’ve found myself in have been commanded by people with any levels in FC. A strong grasp of game mechanics, willpower, a confident tone of voice, and the ability to adapt have been more important than an entry on their character sheet.

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  2. Letrange

    The lack of structure in a fleet is simply laziness on the part of the FC and/or Boss. What you don’t like free hit points??? Reduced armor repair costs etc…? More ore per minute? shorter cycle times (ok that one takes a battle cruiser but still)?

    It’s not that it’s all that hard to learn and once pilots have a vague understanding of is easy to get used to. When forming a big gang simply “Anyone with leadership V or higher type skills and ships in fleet”.

    All I’d have to reply is:
    wing 4 – 4/3/3/2 – Rupture

    Then based on the other answers the boss can decide who to slot into various fleet/wing/squad command positions. Or people can move themselves into the right spots.

    if you leadership skills are lower than leadership 5 you simply don’t reply.

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