On Revenants & Professionalism

So, if you haven't heard, the recent AWOX and destruction of New Eden's first Revenant-class supercarrier has been creating waves, with a degree of awe and giddiness that hasn't been seen for a long time in Eve.

As a reference, here's the article from Mitten's website:


As a former low-sec pvper (perhaps only in remission, we will see), my first reaction was that this was a long time coming for Pandemic Legion. Their propensity for picking on kids smaller than them in the sandbox has been accumulating bad karma for some time now, and this ambush I would argue is the pinnacle of PL cockiness and wanton use of disproportionate force. It was only a matter of time before lording their power over the weaker forces in low-security space was going to catch up with them (as they seemingly have developed amnesia over having lost an Erebus on the Amamake gate last year to the likes of the factional warfare horde).

But, all personal feelings about PL aside, the incident brought up in my mind a lot about discipline.
In Eve, having been playing now for over two years, I have seen a fair number of fleets, both good and bad, covering the better chunk of the different compositions used in the game (although I have yet to do pipebombing, which looks like a lot of fun). I would argue that fleets that I've had the most fun with, and have ultimately been the most successful in, are ones which had a good degree of fleet discipline.

Fleet discipline boils down to a few key elements. The big one is listening to your FC. In combat and fighting in groups, both in Eve and the wider world,military hierarchy and a respect and obedience to a chain of command is a huge part in determining the effectiveness of a fighting force. When you are able to follow orders and hold up your part in a group (and for Christ's sake, don't talk over other people on comms), it makes combat incomparably more fun and effective. By maintaining obedience to your FC, you allow him/her to shape the battle in a manner in which they think will give you the best chances for winning. Sure they will make mistakes and even perfectly run it may not work out, but you minimise the influence that disorder has on your chances of winning a given fight, which is arguably the cause of death of many a well-intentioned (and some not-so-well-intentioned) fleets.

Another element of good fleet discipline is having a good understanding of your role in a given fleet. This means knowing the capabilities of your ship and having a good assessment of your own skill and knowledge, so as to be able to operate in the most effective way possible. Knowing yourself gives you an immense power because it gives you a reference from which you can make judgements regarding your conduct within the fleet as well as being able to reasonably size up your opponent relative to yourself.

The third, and perhaps the most relevant element to the PL ambush, is having effective knowledge of the battle in which are or are about to engage in. Strategic and tactical capability is in large part determined by intelligence. Knowing who your enemy is, the nature of the battlefield, but also having a healthy knowledge of your own comrades, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as having a reasonable idea of what they know or don't know. Which means knowing what your FC can handle, what your corp/fleet mates can handle, of what everyone should be doing, and knowing what orders or directions are good and which are bad.

Ostensibly, the doomed super-carrier pilots of PL had neither clues nor scruples when it came to this. They evidently did not know who they were messing with, where they were going, or the specific details of the battlefield (such as the presence of a massive enemy dread and tornado fleet in the system next door). But most critically of all, they did not question their orders. They gave zero thought whether what they were doing was in their own best interest or in the best interest of their alliance. While the first element I covered in this post was obedience, it should not be blind obedience. Obedience to command should arise from a healthy scepticism and respect for your superiors, that they have done their work properly so you can do yours.

Grath Telkin was right in his now infamous rage on comms: incompetence and blind obedience killed that Revenant, more powerful tools of destruction than all the weapons of Black Legion combined.

Signing off,