I've recently decided that I want to learn how to FC. I find that much like other games, convincing people to stand up and take on a role like FCing is a difficult task to do. And, not unlike other games, learning how to FC is something you need to do with experience.
Luckily, I do have experience leading, just not in EVE. I'm a raid leader for a team in WoW and have been for quite some time now. When I first took over the RL position, I wasn't that good. I realized that there were many things that seemed easy (from a line member looking at the RL job) but in reality weren't. I realized there was a lot I didn't know. However, that didn't stop me from working my ass off to become a better RL. I took copious amounts of notes, researched everything about what we were doing and tried to be as open as possible. Now I can say that I've been honored by some of my members by being called the best RL they've ever had.
From the outside looking in, the FC position seems easy. Plan something, tell them where to go, call primaries, have fun. However, I'm sure it's more complicated than that. Deciding on a primary, for example, surely isn't as easy as it seems. There are pros and cons to picking different ships as primaries and as an inexperienced FC I'm going to make the wrong calls many times. This is just one of many things that I'm going to need to learn by experiencing it. Nonetheless, I've put up some threads on various forums asking for feedback from more experienced people and I've gotten some great replies. I'll share some of what I've learned with you now.
First of all, you need to narrow your focus. What are you going to bring and where are you going to go are two very important questions to know the answers to. Many people recommended to go to low sec in "cheap stuff" and welp. Others recommended null because the mechanics are more understandable (no gate guns, no plexes, no security loss, etc). After some discussion, Faction Warfare low sec seemed to be the best place to learn because there are tons of fleets out and about looking for fights. Overwhelmingly people told me that T1 cruisers are a great place to start because they live long enough to make some decisions and mistakes. Alternatively, frigs and dessies are super cheap and inty roams are easy enough to look for carebears in null. So it was decided: T1 cruisers in FW low sec.
Of course, deciding the type of ship is one thing but deciding the doctrine is something completely different. As a wormhole pilot, I'm used to our expensive doctrines and T2/T3 ship compositions. I've never spent any time in low sec so I was completely unaware of the "meta" in that area of the game. So, I spent some time researching different doctrines. I decided to separate out my search into cheap brawling (close range) and kiting (long distance) cruiser doctrines and found some great options:
Brawling: Mallers + Augs, Thoraxes (Dickcats) + Augs, Moas + Ospreys
Kiting: Vexors + Ospreys, Cynabals + Scythes, Stabbers + Scythes, Treblecats + Scythes, Thoraxes (Pocket Rockets) + Scythes, Moas + Scythes
I actually had a great time researching doctrines. It felt like a whole new EVE to me and as I was writing these down I could picture situations in which I'd take out these types of fleets. But I had to pick one doctrine that I would use for my maiden voyage as an FC. I had heard great things about Mallers and knew that brawling is considered easier to do (both as an FC and as a line member), so I picked Mallers plus Augorors.
Now that I had decided on a doctrine, it was time to schedule a fleet. Actually scheduling the fleet is a big step, because you're firming up your commitment to take it out (there's no chickening out when people are expecting content). I picked a time that worked for me on the weekend and put up a post on our forums about it. I picked a FW system near a trade hub and designated the trade hub as the staging system (since most wormholers don't have T1 cruisers lying around). I grabbed an interceptor and Dotlan and mapped out a route through low that I wanted to take the fleet. I added the waypoints to my in-game notepad so I'd be prepared to link them for the fleet. Then I retreated back to the wormhole to wait for the time to go.
While I was waiting, I looked up all of the different low sec mechanics. What can fit into the different-sized complexes? What actions will get the gate guns shooting you? How much DPS do the gate guns do? What colour does your safety need to be? I found answers to all of these so I could be better prepared. If you live in low sec all the time, you might already know this information. Or, if you decide to go to null instead, a lot of this information is stuff you don't need to know.
Now unfortunately, as any wormholer can attest to, sometimes bob is just not willing to give you that access to k-space that you need. In fact, for all of Sunday I didn't see a single exit to where I wanted to go. We just couldn't find low or high sec exits anywhere in our chain. So, I had to call the fleet, which was a huge bummer, but we did find plenty of content in our chains that kept us busy for the day, so I can't really complain. I will reschedule that fleet sometime in the future and when I do, I'll post what I learned here. Hopefully these types of posts will help other prospective FCs.