Leading a Gang
Leading Gangs Generally
The Gang Objective
People don't group together for no reason, every gang needs a purpose. You need an objective to complete, this overall objective is what the whole gang is working towards, and your job as a fleet commander is to make it happen.
Here are some example Gang objectives:
- Camp our enemies into a station/system
- Break an enemy gatecamp
- Lock a system down
- Engage and defeat a hostile fleet
The fleet commander first needs to decide what the purpose of the gang will be, and relay this to the gang. Simply saying "We are going to XX-YY to break a ZZZ bubblecamp" is enough. This makes everyone in the gang clear on what the overall objective of the gang is. The objective may change half way through, but as long as the gang understands the current objective of the gang, they will be focused in achieving that goal.
Each gang has a different composition of ships. It is up to the fleet commander to understand how many of each type of ship they have, and how best to apply each type.
To try and make this clear, here are some example categories:
- Scout (Covops/Frigate)
- Tacklers (Frigate/Interceptor)
- EW (Recon/Scorp/Blackbird/<all other EW specific ships>)
- Support (Most Cruisers/AF)
- DPS (Most BS/Some Cruisers/HAC)
- Sniper (Some BS Setups/Some HACs)
For example, every time a FC asks what the optimal range of the BS's are, they are trying to work out the number of snipers and DPS ships in the fleet composition. An example composition that a FC may have could be "Three sniping BS, 2 DPS BS, Lots of Support, Lots of Tacklers, No EW". This will obviously influence how the FC engages with what they have. Note the non-specific term 'lots', this is not an exact science and a general idea of the fleet composition is usually enough.
TIP: To get the exact makeup of a fleet, use the scanner and sort by range. The range will only show up next to ships on grid, so if you scan at the right time (when the fleet is all in one place) you will catch your entire fleet on close range scan.
IMPORTANT: A lot of new FCs worry more about the cost of the ship to its pilot than the use of the ship itself. A FC should not worry that the pilot will lose millions of ISK if they die, if they could not afford the loss they would not be flying that ship with you. You need to judge each ship's value by it's usefulness to the gang, not by it's monetary value to the pilot.
Communication within a gang is primarily over teamspeak. The FC will be the one giving out orders, so they need to make sure that they can be clearly understood. This includes tweaking their microphone so that they can be clearly understood.
Teamspeak can be 'funny' sometimes, you may be cutting out for some people, so here are some basic guidelines for FCs to make their orders better understood.
- Talk slower: Take your time with your orders. Particularly in combat. Saying a primary's name too quickly could lead to people mishearing or not understanding it. Don't rush to give orders, that extra half second you take to pronounce a name clearly is worth it.
- Repeat Orders: All critical orders should be repeated. The reason that you may hear 'Warp to KIATolon' five times in a row is in case somebody didn't catch the order the first time. This is why we repeat primaries over and over in combat, so that people who didn't hear you the first time, or focus on getting the primary locked down before thinking about the secondary don't get confused.
- Use Unique Language: Try to give commands that are unique. The difference between 'jump' and 'don't jump' is only one word. The number of times I have heard people say "I heard jump and jumped" because their teamspeak cut out for a second is amazing. In this instance I pick a command that sounds completely different, "Hold Here" cannot be confused with "Jump" because it is a unique command. "Green" for jump and "Red" for don't jump are almost universal, so listen for these.
- Be Aware of Your Accent: We are a global corporation, with people from across the globe. Not everyone speaks with the same accent. Some FCs may have a very strong accent, which can be hard for other people to understand. It may also be awkward for people to tell you that they cannot understand your accent, so if you have a strong accent, you need to try and speak clearly and perhaps make the gang aware that it is okay to tell you if they cannot understand.
- Relay Commands: We have at least one deaf member of GoonFleet, and I don't believe that anyone should be excluded from participating in gangs because they cannot hear you. A good FC should get someone to relay commands into gang if required. This is not just limited to the hearing impaired, there may be people whose TS is playing up, or cannot understand the FC's accent. When relaying commands, gang chat should be cleared of all non-essential chatter.
There are two primary aspects of gang management, combat and movement.
Movement in gangs is relatively simple. A scout will usually move ahead of the gang to ensure that the main group does not jump into any unexpected camps. The FC should pay particular attention to their scout, as that member is effectively their eyes and ears. The main gang will usually follow align/jump commands given by the FC. It is the responsibility of the FC to ensure that the gang knows where they are going so that they can align effectively. The FC should also allow sufficient time for the slow ships to align (the FC should identify the slow aligning ships from the Gang Composition).
Gang Combat is fast and furious, a lot of decisions need be made in a short amount of time. The gang should generally focus fire on the primary target, while queuing up the secondary target. Some ships may have separate goals, EW may jam all the battleships or support may take out their tacklers. Don't try and command multiple groups at once, focus on calling the primary targets for the damage dealers. Sub-groups should have assignments, and be left to follow their assignments using their own initiative, leaving the hardest job to you.
The objective in Gang combat is to reduce the amount of DPS being inflicted on your fleet as fast as possible. The FC needs to quickly identify the ships with the highest DPS and weakest tank to target first, in some cases this may involve targeting cruisers over battleships. There are no hard and fast rules for target calling, it comes down to knowing the enemy fleet composition, knowledge of what ships are set up in which way, how the enemy likes to fight, and many other factors. As the FC gains more experience they will become better at calling targets quickly.
If morale in a gang is low, people will get fed up and leave. As the FC it is your job to inspire the pilots flying with you. You need to think positively, never admit defeat, and always try to keep the gang focused on their goal. If you cannot win a fight, look for another goal to achieve, this could simply be safespotting and trying to get a bigger gang. As long as the gang hears "We will wait for 10 minutes to get more people, then we will go back in there and beat them" they will be inspired by your positive attitude, and you will have a much higher member retention than if you had said "<sigh> We just got owned, I don't think we can beat them, let's safespot for 10 minutes and see how things are then."
Each gang leader has a different style of motivation, KIATolon leads by threatening to pod anyone who doesn't achieve the impossible within 10 seconds (this works better than you may think), Sesfan sounds really disappointed if you fail him, etc, etc.
I like to give small speeches quite regularly. I like to tell the gang how awesome they are and how well we are doing. I feel it is very important to re-enforce the confidence the gang has in itself, it makes them work better together, and encourages them to keep up the good work. If you have a gang that feels good about itself then it is more fun for the people involved.
General Principles of Gang Management
Leading a really large gang can be highly demanding on fleet commanders simply because of how much is going on. Trying to keep up with invites, gang & covops chat, watching for spikes in local, etc. can be an extreme pain in the ass. For really large fleets & ops it would probably be best to have a group of sub-commanders to help you out.
Second & Third in Command: Always try to have a second in command in case you crash, get lagged out, podded etc. In any engagement primary and secondary must be called and constantly reevaluated if you want any enemy ships to get popped. If you're not there to call them, who will?
Gang lead: The person leading the fleet is not always the one that has gang lead. Sometimes it might be handy to have someone else handle invites or gang warps. Usually this is only done for invites and a fleet commander should try to have lead when gang warping needs to be done. This can also be a very demanding job as people constantly X to try and get in on a large fleet engagement. These people are nice enough to take this huge hassle off your hands so try and keep them rotating so one person doesn't get stuck doing it for hours and not getting to have any fun.
Chat Commander: For some ungodly reason not everyone can be on teamspeak all the time, or maybe their codec has messed up and all they hear is static. It would be a really good idea to have someone that can type in and relay your commands and drag target and warp-to names to gang chat. Another good use of these would be to watch local for spikes or to relay intel from defense channels and gang chat to you over teamspeak so you can concentrate on other things, but don't depend on them too much for this. You should be watching these as well.
The In-Game Fleet Command System
The Kali patch implemented a complex system for gang management, complex enough for its own entry. If you're leading gangs on a regular basis, or if you have Leadership skills, you should learn about this system. See here: The Fleet Command System.