The thinking behind this goes something like this. First, being an FC requires that your fleet members feel comfortable enough that you have a good understanding of the situation that they're willing to suspend their usual self-preservation instinct. In so doing, they do what will maximize the chances of the fleet succeeding, even if it means their own individual death. sometimes, a few more seconds of a ship remaining on grid can mean one extra volley, and one extra volley can mean a critical target explodes instead of catching reps. And if that's a critical enough target, the whole enemy fleet could unravel.
For pilots to commit that fully to a fleet, they a) need to believe that their FC has a bigger understanding of what's happening than they do, and b) have faith that this understanding will result in a better chance of success than pilots doing their own thing. When things happen in an engagement and they don't hear the FC's voice, or when the FC sounds emotional and agitated, it erodes that trust that the FC is in control.
That's hard instinct for an FC to develop - understanding when communication is needed, even if nothing is happening. It starts with the FC understanding the likely reaction and motivations of his fleet, and responding to the unspoken desires.
Let me give you an example.
Yesterday, I went on my first Vince Draken fleet. Man... he is cool as ice. The communication began early and often, and his voice never wavered from the same controlled, measured tone the entire fleet. As the fleet was forming, he detailed the fits for the various ships. They deviated somewhat from the usual fits, so he explained the differences, pointing out the specific modules that we did NOT need. Nor did he stop here; he repeated the same instruction a few times for those new pilots joining. He detailed the scripts and ammo that should be loaded as we flew. He identified the anchor and clarified whether he wanted us to orbit or approach, and at what range. He explained the actions we should all take if we were yellow-boxed, including which hardeners we should overheat while we waited for our armor reps to hit.
He did this for each class of ship - logi, dictors, FAXes, carriers... In the background, he sorted logi and FAX anchors, scouts, cynos, effectively coordinating four different wings of the same fleet, all with different marching orders and roles.
And he did this for an NC. fleet, filled with pilots who are veterans at this game and understand how to fly their ships. This wasn't a newbie fleet where the FC had to explain the basics. Yet, he wanted to be certain that everyone knew their roles. And that was all before we even undocked.
The fleet wasn't clogged with discussion back and forth between himself and those who had different roles. He didn't discuss cyno positions, who would serve as target caller, or who backup FCs were; that was all handle in command channels, leaving the main fleet to observe only the finished product, the clear instruction necessary for their jobs.
Division of labor, organization of a multi-role fleet, coordination of cynos, and role assignment... it all happened smoothly and transparently. I wouldn't be surprised if he never stopped talking on command channel, in between his conversation with the fleet members.
I took a lot of lessons out of that performance.
- Right from the beginning, he set a tone of calm control over the situation, setting expectations for everyone.
- He repeated orders a couple times clearly, ensuring that no one missed a vital piece of info.
- He arranged backup FCs and specialists (scouts, cynos, capitals) ahead of time, preventing a headshot from disintegrating the fleet.
- He kept his chatter to a minimum, so that when you heard his voice, you paid attention.
- More a result of experience than the others, he anticipated the questions of his fleet members and preempted them. Things like the kinds of ammo, the scripts, and the way we should anchor were all addressed before they were voiced.
And those are all skills we can all emulate. After all, they depend on preparation and self-control, not luck, knowledge of doctrine rock-paper-scissors, or individual piloting skill. Every player here can adopt them, if given some practice and dedication (okay, a metric ton of each...).
And that's a very comforting thought.