It’s a Fight, not a Dance
Leadership in EvE is a practically unique challenge in MMOs. I’ll be talking purely about when the rubber meets the road today. EvE values leadership that is agile, calm, and alert.
Theme park games, like WoW need leaders who can stick to the plan and keep people on their assigned task. Rhyolith fights exactly the same every time you fight him. Using the optimal strategy will win. Period. EvE is not like this, the high-end PvE, incursions and sleepers, creates a constantly shifting battlefield, where PvP requires meticulous leadership while somehow maintaining awareness of everything ELSE going on in the system so that when the trap hits you aren’t totally fuxxored.
Now this isn’t intended to malign leadership in WoW. Any key leader in an MMO is herding kittens on a GOOD day. However the style of leadership is very different. I like to compare WoW leaders to choreographers. You make sure every person knows their role and will do it exactly correct every time with no deviations. The best players are like dancers, where they do their routine each doing their own part in lockstep with the rest to accomplish whatever that stage of the fight requires to beat the boss.
EvE fleets require similar discipline for most of the people, DPS is DPS usually. Get to the right place, get your transversal up (Don’t stand in the fire for those not familiar with EvE lingo), start doing damage to whoever you are supposed to do damage to, however the healers have a big difference. WoW generally lets you control who is taking damage. Most boss fights the tank grabs aggro and will be soaking up the greatest portion of the damage. In EvE, especially in PvP whoever is calling targets is looking for where he can do the most damage to the enemies capabilities in the minimum amount of time. A good FC knows the capabilities of each ship type, how tough it is, how hard it hits, whether it can be used as a bait ship, and what it adds to the enemy fleet. It’s not an easy topic and I wont get into it but I’d say target calling is a scientific art. There’s a lot that goes into it and you have about 2 seconds to make up your mind. What this means to the healers is that they have to redirect their heals constantly, making sure to hold up the fleet long enough to win the fight. Want to see how chaotic and evil it is? Jester’s Trek has a great blog on the subject. When it works you feel awesome, when it doesn’t work you feel like a jackass.
To me an EvE FC is more like a high school coach. The people on your team may or may not know what the hell they are doing, let alone have any actual ability, and the opposition is active. They have a plan, and will try to disrupt yours. You have to take their abilities into account, and you aren’t sure what the game will actually look like. You can plan everything perfectly, run into the next Michael Jordan and lose by 80, or nothing goes to plan, but the other team’s biggest kid is 5’1″ and weighs 90 pounds soaking wet and you win by 50. There’s no telling what happens. Ideally you know what’s going on more than you don’t and you win more than you lose, but there’s two sides to every conflict. Both are playing to win.