An Introduction to Doctrinal Design

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Best article about Eve I've read in a long while. Thanks.
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Aim for Go and hope for the Orchestra! If you haven't had the opportunity to be in a Tradik fleet then you need to find one.
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Awesome post.
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As the FC of a fairly small and neoteric alliance, I appreciate this article. Thank you. Our greatest challenge has been the fabrication of such doctrines and most importantly the philosophies behind them. New FC's and alliances take note, the lessons from this article are important if you wish to succeed outside of high sec.
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Superior use of game mechanics ...That is the best force multiplier
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Interesting and well written article, thanks. You've taken what is obviously a vast topic and nicely distilled a few key principles out of it - leaving yourself room for a follow up :)
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How to design a doctrine: look at PL/R&K killboard.
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Excellent write-up, Tradik :)I've been a Gents line member for about 9 months now, and I have to say that some of the best times I've had in this alliance were those times when a bunch of us were on comms/chat discussing fittings and doctrines with our FC's. Tradik is without question the best in the business. Aspiring FC's or current FC's looking to improve their own fleets should start by bookmarking this article and re-reading it often.
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Very informative article Tradik. Hope you write more articles like this.
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Good article that explains fleet methodology. Oh and don't forget peeps, you can try out new fleet doctrines on a complimentary test server.
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This article is a breath of fresh air, and serves as a shining example of why combat pilots can make billions every week fighting doctrine based alliances. The collection of one-trick-ponies you've assembled continues to line the pockets of more diverse groups.While homogeneous fits tend to favor cooperative play (grinding structures), heterogeneous fleets favor competition. We see this in all other competitive disciplines, the best examples of which are the percentage of left-handed athletes versus the general population. Doctrines do the equivalent of forcing left handed pitchers to throw with the right, and greatly reduce a fleet's effectiveness for anything other than hitting big rocks with a lot of little hammers.Please stay bad at eve. Please keep doing me the favor of keeping the general population bad at eve by pooh-pooh'ing progressive PvP and experimentation. Keep up the 'elite' negative-branding of combat pilots. Most of all, please leverage the tier3 battlecruisers as often as you can, as they tend to drop in excess of 30m whereas a drake/hurricane only drops 15m.
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Hmm, variety is the spice of life? Put your money where your mouth is and bring this "heterogeneous" aka Snowflake gang to Gents space.
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When we're there, it's really not Gent's space anymore. It's our space. All you own is the TCU.'s branding and docking rights.And... Dude.....http://gents.eve-kill.net/?a=p...Wow... Just wow.
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Oh I am sorry dude, did I claim I was elite PVP? No, that was you. As a young player participating in a 4 month long sov war, there is going to be a lot more structure kills in my killboard than I suspect on yours. Still, wave at me in local.
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I sat here a while, trying to think of a logical argument that I could make to dissuade you from your clearly incorrect assumptions. But then I realized, I had already written a several thousand word article on it!I'd recommend you read the article again, and this time set aside your preconceptions about what I'm talking about. Your two major points actually agree significantly with what I've said in the article.
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I am trying to make sense of this post and I can't.I would agree that large alliances often make mistakes when scaling down their fleet doctrines to smaller fleet sizes - they frequently seem to scale utility & support roles down proportionally (or even more than proportionally) which does result in fleets that are way too homogenous.A realistic example would be a 30 man "Drake fleet" that consists of 22 Drakes, 5 Scimitars, 2 frigates/ceptors and a single dictor - having lost its skirmish and siege links, its Huginns and Lachesises and most of its light tackle in the process of naively scaling down from the 100+ Drake fleets the alliance does usually field.However, this would not really be an issue with the fleet doctrine being too uniform and thus bad, but is an issue with inexperienced FCs not understanding which parts (other than the number of "backbone" ships you can field) actually make the doctrine work.(Somehow fitting that the well-known write-up of the Darkside drake doctrine - http://pastebin.com/iAd82QS3 - contains explicit instructions on how to scale the fleet composition to different fleet sizes.)If that is your point then I agree (and I think the author of this article would agree, too.)However, if your point is to claim that large fleets can work without having uniform engagement envelopes, shared tank types and predictable synergy between ships (which already fixes most of the constraints that lead to fully standardized fittings, add the practical considerations of having to manage logistics & reimbursements and you are there the whole way), then I'm afraid I can't follow you.Me & some other special snowflakes join your 100+ man Drake fleet in our Fleet Issue Phoons and Triple-rep Myrmidons because that's how we competitive left-handers roll (we need to free up our right hands for more important tasks) and this will improve your fleet - how? O.o
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You're probably joking but this is actually the best way for a new/bad alliance to make a good doctrine. Plus it's a lot less complicated than reading entire essays about how to fit a buffer tank with logi and recon support.
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It's cool that there's a big thought process behind fleet fittings and design, but I think the article misses out on the really hard part for newer alliances. The hard part is getting your pilots to actually train and fly the correct ships and having FC's who know how to fly a particular doctrine.You only really need 2-3 cookie cutter doctrines to be able to form effective counters to most fleets. When ncdot was doing really well they just ran ahacs or sniper nagas 90% of the time, but they had really excellent FC's and everyone flew the right ships with the right fittings. Of course they died due to drama but that's another problem altogether. Right now BL and the drone regions alliances are doing really well with autocanes, which I personally think is a pretty weak doctrine, but it's FC'd well and everyone is in the right ships so it works. It's not that sniper nagas, ahacs or welpcanes are amazing unstoppable doctrines by themselves - it's more about how they're flown. You can get lots of kills with the most idiotic fleet types (as long as the fittings are uniform) if the FC knows when and how to engage.The other thing is that new pilots have to be made to fly the right stuff. From experience I know that people will form kitchen sink without direction from above. It's really important for a new alliance to make new members fly doctrine ships or if they can't fly anything else, tackle. If you let people fly their special snowflake ships in proper fleets it's just asking for a world of trouble later on.
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Motivation and training is a problem for all alliances- however when they are championed by a charismatic FC who leads the concept to success it swiftly gains momentum and snowballs into something usable.While a fleet doctrine can be used hundreds of times- a fleet concept can die on its first undock.
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I think I might actually bother teaching some of my corpmates to read so they can absorb this. Worth it. +1
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Yeah, because doctrine fleets only have one kind of ship and one kind of pilot. I'm sure the exact same skill and knowledge is required for the Rokh, the Scimitar, the Huginn, and the wee tackle frigate or scout frigate. Insert eye roll here.Either you're simply a troll choosing to ignore reality, or you really have no clue what a fleet consists of (nor did you read the article). I'm driven towards the latter..Also, when you refer to 'more diverse groups', are you referring to the esteemed PVP corp Aliastra? http://evewho.com/pilot/Lithia... ('Diverse' is certainly accurate in any case..)
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I'm having a little trouble fitting some of this teaching into what I have studied of real-world naval and military art and science.Example: In Real World, there is a concept "Combined Arms". From memory, paraphrasing Robert Leonhard:A single weapon system presents a [i]problem[/i] to the enemy. An anti-tank missile system stimulates the enemy tanks to seek cover.Combined Arms presents a [i]dilemma[/i]. Deploy your anti-tank missile system where the approaching enemy tanks, when they seek cover from it, will go into the forest -- where you have deployed your infantry with short-range anti-tank rockets.Does Combined Arms not work in EVE? Or am I just misunderstanding the Principle of Uniformity in this article?Apology in advance if this sounds like "You fool you don't understand anything!" That is not my intention. This article is clearly a serious piece based on much experience and long thought.
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Delicious
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The point I am making is that absolute uniformity makes for a much less effective fleet. An example:The WELP doctrine: ~30k EHP shield cane with 600DPS and nets. God forbid someone fit a tempest the same way. It's twice the cost, with the insured delta being about 40m, twice the DPS, twice the tank, 4x the neuting power, better drone compliment, and is only inferior in terms of agility and sig radius. In the early days of WELP, I personally witnessed five engagements where targets escaped with 50% of their armor remaining. Pests would have finished, packing small mobile II's would have finished. In 2 of the instances, having just 1 of the 100 hurricanes pack a point would have changed the outcome or given the goons additional carrier/dread kills.But no, you can't fit a point on a welp cane, because it won't get reimbursed. You can't sacrifice a neut for a cloak (aka, the wife tank), because it won't get reimbursed. You can't double your effectiveness and fly a tempest, because you won't get reimbursed, even if you offer to eat the 40m isk delta. You can't fly a brutix/harb/ferox fit to the same specification, even if they are more effective by virtue of your skill points. No, no, no.... Don't be more effective, stick with the doctrine.This isn't something that is limited to goons, and I've encountered the same in every alliance I've attempted to assist and/or fought against I really think that it's an intentional attempt at keeping pilots bad at eve in order to keep less experienced players (Sieveboy) from pursuing their own ambitions. Keep grinding rocks, pay no attention to the affluent few, you're doing a great job! It honestly pains me to see so many good people suckered into this trap.Don't get me wrong, I'm not promoting anarchy. I'm promoting diversity. Doctrines should be a guideline, not a hard rule with a financial penalty. "<20k engagement range, >600 DPS, MWD, >30k shield buffer+invuln, nets, 45m isk reimbursable, here's several example fits, here's how you fly them...". There's a doctrine. Currently, I see: "Put your character in this exact fit and sit on a titan while our entertaining-yet-incompetent FC and completely untrained interdictors demonstrate their inability to keep a supercap bubbled".Enough ranting. Do your best to enjoy Eve. Understand that most alliance leaders and FCs are 'entertainers' and not particularly good at eve.
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I think you're misunderstanding the principle of uniformity, yes. It doesn't mean you're only bringing one ship. What it means is that you want to build your fleet around a single style. You want your backbone ship (or ships) that provides the majority of your numbers and firepower to have similar performance profiles in all respects - engagement range, speed of movement, agility, and what sort of tank (armor or shield) they field.What it doesn't mean is that you don't mix ships, even in the backbone. The Goonfleet "Alphafleet" doctrine is built on shield-tanked artillery Maelstrom, with the idea being to negate enemy logistics by destroying primary targets in a single volley - an alphastrike. But it's supplemented by Drakes and (these days) Rokhs as well, each with a slightly different set of upsides and downsides. They all, however, maintain a shield tank, and have similar or at least overlapping engagement ranges - the Drake is shorter than the others, the Rokh longer, but they overlap in a 40-80km "sweet spot". And the advantages and disadvantages are complimentary. Maelstroms can alpha the target but have lower overall DPS. Rokhs have less alpha, but higher overall DPS, and lock faster to boot - they're great for the special task of countering hit and run attacks from things such as Tier 3 battlecruisers...which are badly tanked, meaning the alpha doesn't matter. And drakes are superior at engaging smaller targets regardless of range because of how missiles work; they also bring some ewar to compliment the ECM on the scorpions.Finally, no fleet runs on its backbone alone - there are always support ships. Perhaps most important among them are the Logistics ships, providing remote repairs; for Alphafleet, those are Scimitars, and without them it's practically a guaranteed loss against a fleet that does have them. But there are other ships as well. The author mentioned the Scorpions in an ECM and utility role with their ECM and neuts and smartbombs. There are newbies in target-painting Vigils for tackling and increasing DPS on small targets, more experienced pilots in interceptors and interdictors for further tackling purposes, and a variety of fleet recon ships: Huginn for webbing, Lachesis for long-range tackling, and Curse to supplement Scorpion neuts but at a longer range.
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Re: Rokh/Scim/HugWe have both kinds of music... Country 'and' Western.
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Ahh, ok, now I understand what you're saying. And I agree. And I think that's reflected in both this article, and the doctrines I've actually made and implemented. But there are times and places for both. Smaller engagements, where individual player skill makes a bigger impact, certainly. But in a 256 man fleet? A good doctrine already has everything covered, it doesn't need mofications.For the record, welpcanes are not a good doctrine. Welp was basically DBRB taking the single ship from a variety of already established doctrines and removing all of its support. When Gents ran welpcanes before welp became a coalition doctrine, we had massed blackbird and RFF support. We also had, and continue to have, a heavier welp version of a tempest, that can be called for and used when appropriate.So basically what your advocating isn't a step away from doctrine design, but a step away from bad doctrine design. So I'm going to return to my previous reply to you: You're actually agreeing with everything I'm saying.
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Indeed. You've been taught progressive combat techniques. The doctrine paradigm is "Archers behind infantry, cavalry divides the enemy, one guy beats on a drum while a half dozen scouts relay field information".I guess that the difference between what you're talking about and the current state-of-fleets is that the individual roles require training, proficiency and independent thought, whereas the majority of fleet pilots still fly one-handed because nobody has ever told them otherwise. Quite the opposite, they're being told they're awesome so that they continue doing it.I swear that I'd join a progressive-combat-oriented alliance in a heartbeat.
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0.0 fleets do have 'combined arms' of sorts. You could have 'instacanes' backing up the main DPS, fast-locking Hurricanes that take care of decloaking bombers, for example.Still, it's submarines in space, in a game, so obviously real-world warfare is hardly going to apply directly.
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In case intarwebs doesn't reach you under the rock you're living, owning space *is* owning the TCU.What you claim, actually means "hopelessly masturbating at a killboard". And it doesn't own anything, but a larger ego.
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Owning the money moons is pretty sweet too, but WE DON'T NEED THOSE, WE HAVE THE K/D RATIO RIGHT GUYS?
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Quite the opposite, though I'm OK that we can't seem to understand each other. As I said, I love killing no-tracking structure grinders that can't point me. I love killing completely offense-less logis. I love killing defenseless huggins. I love being able to go to battleclinic, and knowing exactly how a pilot is fit, and how they fly. It's how I, and quite a few others, pay for our accounts.That said, I'm sorry that you thought WELP was the only example of an almost infinite list that crosses over to many different alliances. Here's another example.It really pained me to see the promotion of the double bubble fleet dictor over the probing dictor. It wasn't till I started teaching gate-interdiction that I learned that most fleet-interdictor pilots don't know how to probe. I then learned that big-alliance recon pilots barely know how to use combat probes, or dirscan belts, or get and maintain tackle in open space, and it kinda blew my mind. Everywhere I've looked in big aliances, from their guerrilla warfare SIGs to their contemporary fleets, nobody knows WTF they're doing. It's not their fault though, it's because they've been flying under a doctrine.You develop one handed ships that require a pilot to "light the hardeners, target the primary, light top mods." and fill them with lobotomized meat-sacks of your own making. Pilot growth is limited to skilling-for-the-next-docterine-leadership-copies-from-someone-else. You get a charismatic 'entertainer' to FC, and play paper-rock-scissors with the opposing fleet. You get 300 guys to grind a structure/fleet/service, the charismatic FC then tells pilots what awesome PvP'ers they are, and a select few profit from the moon goo.The thing I never fully understood about people in your position was whether you were 'in-on-it' or not. I mean... Are you a working part of the scam, and know exactly what's going on, or do you really 'believe' that you're doing something good or constructive? If it's the latter, I'd totally offer to take you for a spin for a week or two and show you what you're missing. If it's the former.... bravo!
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Little of column A, little of Column B. I would say that I never tell my fleets they're good pvp'ers. Most of them don't know what they're doing, nor have the time nor inclination to learn. Which is why flying in fleets works for them. I do tell them they're good fleet members, on occasion.But if you're asking if I know what I'm doing solo? Sure. Its not something unique to black legion.
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I understand where you're coming from and in principle I'd agree. But when you're in charge of a lot of casual players you really have to cater to the lowest common denominator. I don't know if you've tried to lead players in a bigger alliance (say more than 600) before?A lot of 0.0 alliance pilots will never improve and neither do they have any intention of doing so. They will never do solo or small gang, will never learn probing or dscanning (no matter how much you tell them to), and will never learn the finer points of stuff like frigate combat or holding tackle. For them the fun comes from the big spectacle and the community more than any skill at the ship flying part of the game. If you want to see the results of alliances with loose doctrines you can check out the old NC, which was a collection of some of the worst pvp players Eve has ever seen.To save themselves the frustration goons said 'here is the ship, here's how to fit it, here's what to train, do what the FC says and we'll replace it for free'. There's a reason why every other coalition followed that model. I've tried to get more casual players to improve in the past and it's like trying to push shit uphill. I'd love for people to improve at the game but as a coalition grows it usually has to resort to specific fleet doctrines if only to stop the directors from going insane.
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If you need to make food as fast and cost-effectively as possible, how do you do it?Do you train master chefs to make delicious burgers over a course of months and find a way to keep them working for you so you don't lose your investment in time?Or do you take anyone who's not retarded, pay them near minimum wage, and teach them 1 thing, such as "you put the pickles on, then pass it over to the guy who adds the cheese"?See, with option 2, if you lose a worker, grab another guy off the street and you're fine. With option 1, you need to keep the same people with you or you start all over again. You can call it what you want, "Division of Labor", "McDonaldization", whatever, but it works and that's why Goonswarm and TEST are the most powerful alliances in EVE right now. They don't depend on hundreds of players being very good at independently fighting together, they break everything down so even a complete retard can help out and then recruit every retard that comes their way.
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Perhaps there is a compromise. For each doctrinal ship, there should be a "My first Sabre" activity book, complete with connect the dots, crossword puzzle, word search of interdictor terminology.Joking aside, I really feel that you're selling your members short. Pilots with a desire to learn are fed misinformation (taught incorrect or really bad technique) and are branded as "elite". Those that excel are subject to ridicule and walled off. The best example of this that comes to mind is Ribeye. Despite his 'charming' personality (I just threw up in my mouth a bit), he did more to progress the art of interdiction than all other Goons combined in all of history. When he left, Goon interdiction regressed back to techniques used in 2007.Another example is that "Force Divisors" such as the falcon/rook pilots are given a negative social stigma, as if the general big-aliance population is suddenly virtuous, and ECM pilots are bad people. In an alliance that prides itself on its ability to scam people, Falcon pilots are the ones that lack e-honor.It all really feels like an intentional attempt to prevent pilots from becoming successful and independent. It doesn't take a genius to figure out why big alliances would do this. Successful and independent pilots don't need alliances. They don't need a TCU. They don't even need docking rights. They don't need reimbursement. If progressive PvP were made into a curriculum, you would lose half of your membership, followed by your space, followed by your leadership's income. Again, I get it. Its a scam, just like the other recruitment scams, but scaled massively outward.What kinda upsets me about this article is that it appears to be an attempt to dumb down other smaller/newer alliances. You're attempting to make other alliances worse by feeding them misinformation, to give your alliance a competitive edge. That's pretty neat.....
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Thank you for the excellent article. The discussion below it is also exceptionally informative and enligntening. Thank you to all that have added to the discussion, it is a lot to think about.
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I do not recall seeing previously the expression "progressive combat techniques". You have sent me Googling! Thanks!Is there a good reason why there is so little progressive-combat-oriented activity in EVE? Other comments to this article say there is a determined effort by commanders of large fleets to deceive members into being happy to conform to doctrines based on unthinking obedience rather than thoughtful initiative, but why are such fleet commanders successful in battle? Why do not smaller fleets with progressive-combat doctrines systematically take big dumb fleets apart?Is it that big dumb fleets are so much easier to train and marshal that they can be so much larger that they just bury small smart fleets in numbers? In Real World, at Isandlwana, 1,800 British riflemen held against 20,000 Zulus armed with spears -- until a botched British system for distributing ammunition caused the riflemen to run out, at which point their rifles became nothing but spears and they were slaughtered.I guess the Rooks-and-Kings videos show some of what might be possible? However, in those videos I see RnK winning against odds of two-to-one, not two-hundred-to-one.Lenin is said to have claimed that "Quantity has a quality all its own", though I have not found the original source for that quotation. Which EVE would be better: EVE in which RnK could defeat GiantBlobFleet, or EVE in which RnK could never defeat GiantBlobFleet? Or would those two EVEs just be different, neither better than other?What if RnK could defeat GiantBlobFleet in some parts of space but not in other parts? Would that EVE be better than current EVE? Worse? Or just different?Please forgive me if I have drifted too far off-topic.
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Will the comprehensive ship-rebalancing upon which CCP are now embarked reduce or negate the advantages of the currently-optimal standard fits?Are there advantages for small, doctrinally-agile fleets in an environment of Game-Rules churn? Or do the resource advantages of fleets supported by gigantic numbers of characters overwhelm any possible advantages of intellectual agility a small fleet might have?Is Game-Rules churn then "unfair"? Is lack of Game-Rules churn unfair?Long ago, in galaxies far, far away, there was a proverb: "All changes favor the Dorsai!"
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Where does one find articles and videos explaining why navy apoc performs well?Must one dredge Forum posts?One thing I like about themittani.com is the high signal-to-noise ratio. Are there other places where high signal-to-noise-ratio material is archived?
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BRUCE, shade, Majesta and GENTS. Yeah I'm going to follow your advice.
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The problem is that superior skill or technique only works up to a point; it doesn't scale up as well as warm bodies do. 500 f1 monkeys in drakes would lay waste to a carefully planned and executed 80man fleet. That's not to say it's faulty game mechanics, as that would be a completely different argument, but it's the game mechanics we have now and must deal with.Also yes, you're right in what you're assuming when you speak of the RnK videos: they win outnumbered due to their better planning, but they're also known for being very skittish and risk averse. Not that it's a bad thing, mind you, but their victories have more to do with their incredible amount of intel prior to engaging hostile fleets.
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The patch made some small changes to current fleet setups. Munins and arty canes are a bit better, AC hurricanes are a bit worse and drakes may become obsolete. The main big coalition compositions of battleships, sniper nagas/tornados and ahac fleets remain mostly unchanged.T1 cruisers are a lot stronger so a smaller group coming out of highsec could certainly use stuff like arty ruptures and t1 logi, making them effective with a minimal isk investment.There's always an advantage in being ahead of the 'metagame'. Considering the numbers the CFC/HBC has there's no real way to compete in a sov war. It's like Starcraft 2 or Planetside in a sense - it doesn't matter how good you are at the game if your opponent just has way more stuff.
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Have to say I started with a positive view of this article. Then I started wondering why a supposedly brilliant FC and doctrine-maker is such a flaming noob.There is nothing here for anyone doing smaller-than-blob fleets. Absolutely nothing. It is good advice for people that don't need it. If you "design" doctrines for your coalition blob, all of the information in this article is 50/50 bullshit or plain common sense.It is evident that the writer hasn't been engaged in warfare that didn't include abundant intel, abundant reinforcements and less-than-3-mid batphones. And the "credentials" kind of speak for themselves in that regard.If this passes as information in your bloc, I wonder how the fuck did you people even manage to undock.Sorry for being harsh, Eve made me do it.

This guest article was submitted by Tradik of Gentlemen's Agreement.

Get ready to learn

Before I begin, I should probably introduce myself. I’ve been an FC in one capacity or another since 2007. During that time I’ve lead, lost and engaged fleets varying in size from 5 man frigate gangs to full supercapital fleets. I learnt how to lose in BRUCE, how to cloak and gank in Shade, how to love AHACs and hate bureaucracy in Majesta, and I was a founding member of GENTS. I was involved in the development of all of their fleet doctrines. I have used and abused every fleet the CFC has put out there. I prefer to keep a lower profile, but I’ve wanted to write this for some time.

So, I guess we had better start at the beginning. A doctrine is not a fleet comp. Well, it is not only a fleet comp. It is the philosophy behind the fleet comp, the understanding of how to use the fleet comp, and the ability to take that understanding onto grid effectively. Trying to separate the fleet comp from how it is used is foolhardy and ultimately self destructive.

For those without set doctrines, I cannot state definitively enough what you’re missing out on. Doctrine-based combat is the secret behind all "elite pvper" success. Individual skill plays a part, yes - but not as much as properly executed doctrinal discipline. All else being equal, if a fleet of solo ships fights a well-handled doctrine fleet, the doctrine fleet will always come out on top. Every time.

Well, yes, that’s all very well and shiny, but what does it have to do with you? Unless you’re building a new fleet doctrine, this won’t help you at all, right? Wrong. All PVP combat can improved by properly understanding your enemies’ - and your own - doctrines. Understand where they’re coming from, and you can beat them to where they’re going.

That’s what I hope to achieve with this article - not only to help people make better fleets, but to improve understanding of what exactly makes up a doctrine. I’ll try to avoid specifics, and focus more on non-specific generalities that can apply to all doctrines. If I ever write another article, I might look at some doctrines in particular.

Core Philosophy

Philosophy? What does philosophy have to do with EVE? Quite a bit, really. Now, you might have your own life philosophies or whatever, I don’t really care (I’m a classical cynic, deal with it), what I’m talking about is a set of thoughts and understandings that lead to a working model of how to make and use fleets in EVE. It’s a very specific sort of philosophy, but for our purposes, an important one.

The primary lesson I’ve learnt in my time running fleets and doctrines in EVE is that you need to start from the right spot. Starting right won’t necessarily mean you’ll end up with something good at the end, but it puts you in a damn sight better place than starting wrong. What is the right spot? Your objective. Knowing what you want to achieve with a fleet is the key. If you try to make an Abaddon fleet fit into your skirmishing op, you’re going to have a problem. Decide what you want your fleet to do before you decide what fleet type you want to use for it. Everything else follows from this. Once you have your objective, start thinking about what sort of advantages would be beneficial for that objective. Do you want to do hit-and-run skirmishing? You probably want something fast and maneuverable. Do you want to play station games? You probably want something with a brick tank.

Every decision you make, every thing you consider, every little step you take, must go back to whether or not it helps the fleet. Remember, the fleet is the goal - not any one individual ship fit. If it doesn’t help the fleet, cast it aside.

Principles

Simply put, if the above philosophy is how you need to think about doctrines, then these four principles are what you should be thinking about.

Uniformity

There are two main aspects to uniformity - neither of which are maid's outfits, sorry. The first is shipfit uniformity: every ship that shows up to a fleet should be identical to the listed fit. This isn’t really part of doctrinal design, but more alliance design. Someone more versed in interpersonal skills can talk to you about that. Its important, but outside the scope of this article.

The second aspect, and the one we’re concerned with, is uniformity of engagement profile. Now, we might geek out here a bit, so stick with me. The engagement profile of a fleet is the combination of weapon ranges and tracking, speed, maneuverability, and defenses. It is the totality of how the fleet actually engages in combat. An MWDing blaster gank Deimos has a vastly different engagement profile to an afterburning AHAC pulse Zealot. They’re both turret HACs, but they act in completely different ways, with different tanks, different weapon ranges (the Zealot is nearly double the Deimos), and vastly different speed capabilities.

An example of good uniformity of engagement profile is running Nagas with Tornadoes. They move similarly, they have similar tanks, they have similar ranges. They are alike enough that you can FC them essentially the same way. That's the point of uniformity of engagement profile - to bring ships that can be FCed together effectively. There’s nothing worse then trying to fight an enemy when half your fleet being in range means the other half can’t track anything. 

Suitability

This might be the most na-duh thing I type today, but you’d be surprised how often it's ignored. Bringing a pulse Harbinger to a sniper fleet is NOT SUITABLE. It sounds silly, but it has happened. That case was actually just someone being an idiot, but the point stands. If the ship isn’t suitable for what you want to do - don’t use it. Maelstroms don’t make very effective fast tackle. Believe me, I’ve tried.

Complimentary

This is where people get lost sometimes. You want ships that make each other more effective. Simply being effective in and of themselves is not enough. You want them to improve the rest of the fleet. This is probably the easiest to describe (yet hardest to implement) part of making a new doctrine. Our goal should be to have a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Now, you won’t always be able to do this - but it should be the aim.

A good example of a complementary doctrine would be the usage of varied electronic warfare modules on the spare slot of a Drake fleet. Each Drake does their own damage, but they also make the rest of the fleet more effective by judicious selection and usage of their one (weak) EWAR.

The Best Tool For The Job

Don’t accept second best. If fit A does job X better than fit B, use fit A. Don’t include fit B in the doctrine at all. Again, it sounds simple and obvious, but it is often forgotten or put aside. Often, people just get excited playing with EFT and thinking up new and crazier fits (been there - done that), and they lose sight of what they’re actually aiming for. We’re not looking for all possible ways to skin the cat. We’re looking for the quickest and most efficient method.

Some would say that there are exceptions for this rule. They would be wrong. The most common ‘exception’ I’ve heard is having fits for each race's dictors and inties. This is not an exception to the rule - merely a misunderstanding of it. Apart from certain edge cases, each dictor and intie can be made to do the same job at roughly the same level of competence. The best tool for bubbling is a light dictor, so you use light dictors. You don’t try and deploy large bubbles out of your Dominix every time you want a bubble. In this case the best tool is the entire ship class, not one specific ship. 

Building the Damn Ships

So, you’ve decided roughly what basic doctrine you want to adopt. Now it's time to actually decide on your fleet fits. As with everything, we need to start from the beginning and build on top of that. In the case of fleet ships, that means defining and building your fleet backbone. Every fleet has a backbone - some have two. The backbone of the fleet is, generally speaking, your primary dps ship. The largest proportion of your fleet will be your backbone ships. Alpha Maelstroms, AB Zealots, Rail Rokhs, Pulse Abaddons. These are the backbones of their fleets. Everything else about those fleets is designed to protect, enhance and exploit their backbones.

Once you’ve decided on what ship you want for your backbone, you need to design the specific fit for it. Build your fit critically - the same way you chose the ship. Prioritise what you can put in based upon what you want your backbone to do. If it's a gank ship, prioritise guns and damage mods. If its meant to be a slugger, emphasize its tank. Remember - no ship can do everything. And, in a fleet, none should try to. That’s why you have the rest of your fleet.

Once you’ve got a backbone ship that you’re happy with, you should know it inside and out. Understand your backbone's strengths, but, more importantly, its weaknesses. These should be your primary guide when deciding what other shiptypes to complement your backbone with. And this brings us to another extremely important, yet often overlooked, point.

Force Multipliers and Divisors

Simply put, a force multiplier is anything that increases the combat effectiveness of a fleet. A divisor is the opposite. In terms of EVE, this tends to mean logistics, command ships, tacklers and EWAR craft.

One of the most misunderstood force divisors is the old Alphafleet Scorpion. It only ever carried two or three ECM modules. At least as important were its smartbombs and neuts. Smartbombs to clear drones, or act as an anti-missile shield wall. Neuts to neut out any capacitor based fleet in close range (Zealots, anyone?). Yes, the ECM was there as well, but not to keep one target permanently jammed. No, they would keep their ECM modules on auto repeat, and spread them across multiple targets. This could not reliably shut down one ship, but would cause the entire enemy fleet to be reduced in effectiveness. 25 Scorpions, each with 3 modules at a 20% jam rate. Average this out, and you’ve got about 15 enemy DPS ships that cannot do damage to you at any given time. Your logistics thank you.

Choose force multipliers/divisors that complement the strengths and weaknesses of your backbone. You’re running a nano gang? Get a Loki or Claymore. Running shield tank? Get a Vulture or Tengu. Running slow, hard hitting ships? Consider Recons or Tech 3 tacklers. But remember, as always, the goal of these additional ships is to enhance the effectiveness of the backbone, not to supplant it. Every time you put a mod onto the ship, ask yourself if it benefits the backbone. Once you’ve filled the force multiplier/divisor role, feel free to add whatever you like to any slots you might have left over. Still, don't forget - they’re icing, not the cake. The perfect example of this is 220mm Autocannons on tackler Lokis. They’re useful for killing interceptors that get too close, but other than that, they’re really only there to whore with.

Cardinal Sins

When you’re putting a new doctrine together, there are a few things that are just shooting yourself in the foot - but plenty of people do them.

Building for Race

This one happens a lot. Because a given corp or alliance already has training for a given race, they only choose options that they already have the training for. While this might be acceptable for ancillary doctrines, it shouldn’t prevent you from choosing the best available option. If you’ve always run shield, but an armour doctrine is clearly superior, guess what? It’s time to cross train.

Options For The Sake of Options

Related to Building for Race, but not quite the same. Adding additional shiptypes and fits to a given doctrine simply to add more options, whether to accomodate training or ‘just because it's cool’.. well. The former encourages bad practices (and you’ll notice a decrease in your fleet's efficacy), while the latter is just stupid. Seriously. Stupid.

Building to Cross Purposes

The Jack-of-all-Trades is the Master of None. Right at the beginning of this article, we talked about building your fleet with a single goal in mind. Now, that goal might be fairly broad (Being the standard blob/fleet combat doctrine for an alliance), but it should never act against itself. If you want a mid-range combat fleet, use ships that operate in the mid-range. The same with short- and long-range. The small situational benefit you might get is almost always outweighed by the penalties you have to pay to achieve it. If you really want to achieve something different, use a second doctrine! One of the great strengths of properly implemented fleet doctrines is the ability to swap the entire playstyle of a fleet with just a few minutes docked up.

Finishing It Off

Once you’ve finally got a doctrine that you’re happy with, its time to implement it.. but don’t think that means your job is done. As with any good design, the key to success lies with the three I’s. Iteration, Iteration, Iteration. The only way to see if a doctrine will really perform - and to see what needs to change for it to do so at its peak - is to take it out onto a hostile grid and see what happens. This is the only way to really test it. Be prepared for teething problems. You’re probably going to lose the first fight you take a new doctrine into. The losses will teach you more than any victories. 

Remember that doctrines are not static things. Don’t get attached to any one idea. Semper Gumbi. Always flexible. If something has merit, keep it. Otherwise, discard it, and move on. If your enemy produces a counter-doctrine, don’t be afraid to mothball the entire thing and start again. Always keep your eye on the goal: producing a superior fleet, not a collection of superior ships.

AKA Alikchi. Traitor, hater, ganker, idiot. Follow me at @alikchialeika.