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I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Guide: PvP Voice Communications

EDIT (28/Jun/2011): The following information is based on an article originally presented in the Agony Unleashed PvP Basic class materials (though not written by an Agony Unleashed member).  I then both tightened and organized the material, as well as greatly expanded it.  Those who have taken the Agony Unleashed PvP Basic class and have access to their wiki can view the original text for comparison here.

PvP Communications Introduction
Voice communications, while important to a corp for esprit de corps and for social interaction, is absolutely vital in PvP and fleet combat.  It allows you to act and to react faster than the enemy.  Good communications maximizes the effectiveness of a fleet and allows the FC (Fleet Commander) to coordinate the group's activities in real-time.  An EVE combat fleet depends on mobility and surprise; these are hard to achieve without voice communications.

There are several other methods of PvP communications that are also valuable, notably in-game text chat and the in-game Fleet Broadcast capabilities that this article also discusses.

Basic Concepts
The following are basic concepts that every EVE player should know about PvP communications.

Orders, Breaks, and the "J-Word"
The key reason for use of voice communications in PvP operations is for the quick and efficient transfer of information from the FC to members of the fleet (orders) or for transfer of information from the fleet scouts to the FC and fleet members (recon).  As a result, any voice communication that doesn't meet one of these two goals is -- on the whole -- bad for the operation.  During a PvP operation, if you don't have orders to convey to the fleet, or information to convey to the FC, it's generally best to keep quiet in the voice communication channels.

That said, humans are humans, and the defining characteristic of humans is that we love to talk.  As a result, a good FC will try to keep communications open to general chit-chat as much as is possible.  Still, do what you can to keep the communications channel clear!  In particular, once actual PvP combat begins or is imminent, the FC will call for "tight comms", "combat comms", or "battlecomms".  This means to keep the communication channel clear unless you have critical information to relate.

If you do have critical information, you can ask for a break in communications by saying "break", "break break", or "break" and then your name.  Say this once, then wait for the FC to acknowledge you -- usually by saying "go break" or "go" and your name -- then you can share the information you have.

Be careful about giving orders -- orders are the domain of the FC.  If you see something obviously incorrect happening (the FC has asked you to recall drones, and one of your fleet-mates still has drones out), you can remind your fleet-mate to recall his droes.  The one exception to this, though, is the word "jump".  Never ever say the J-word unless you are the FC.  Tensions are high during PvP operations and if the fleet is at a gate awaiting the orders to jump, you saying it unnecessarily could cause someone to jump through the gate by accident.  This can reveal the fleet's location and endanger the op.  Never ever say the "J" word! 

Voice Chat versus Text Chat versus Broadcast
The key difference between voice chat and text chat in a PvP situation is urgency.  In-game text chat is a fine tool during PvP operations for designating non-critical pieces of information.  Ship fittings are an excellent example, as are potential destination systems, target names, non-critical questions you might have, or other incidental information that you may have uncovered which is interesting, but not vital to the op at that moment.  If you are having trouble with TS, you can obviously also communicate this information in text chat.

If the information you have to convey is urgent, then feel free to ask for a break in comms so that you can convey that information.  If the information is not urgent, then relay it in text chat.

The one exception to this rule is requests for logistical assistance, usually for armor damage repair.  This is critical information, but should not be conveyed by voice.  Instead, if you require armor or shield repping, use the in-game, in-fleet Broadcast capability to request that assistance.  This image shows the appropriate interface, with the "Request Armor Repair" button circled.

The Third Person and The Third Person's Location
When in PvP, always refer to yourself in the third person.  This will feel weird at first, but it's important because it conveys not only the information, but who is giving the information.  After you refer to yourself in the third person, mention where you are!  Saying where you are is, if anything, more important than saying who you are.

In particular, if you are scouting for the fleet, you want to convey the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of time.  Report who you are, where you are, and what you see, both in the immediate area and (if you can) on your ship scanner.  Scouting takes experience, but it always starts with who you are and where you are.

"I have a hostile at the gate" is not useful information.  "Ripard in Sasta, hostile at the Jark gate" is very useful information.  It not only conveys to the FC who is scouting, but where they are and what they're seeing.  The FC can then ask follow-up questions to get the information he or she needs to decide what to do next.

Once you have some more PvP experience, you should be able to get around 0.0 by yourself, and may not need help from the FC. If that is the case, just type your report/info into the in-game text chat along with something along the lines of "no assistance needed".

Details are interesting to you, but are rarely interesting to your fleet-mates or to the FC.  The trick is to learn how to convey the maximum amount of information in the minimum amount of time.  In particular, the FC needs to know where the target is, and either what is being done to the target or what can be done to the target.  Be brief but precise.

Don't be a narrator!  If the information you are thinking of sharing isn't critical to the rest of the fleet, don't share it.  The rest of the fleet doesn't need to hear that you're locking weapons, firing weapons, being targeted, or taking damage.  The rest of the fleet doesn't care about these details and all of us are dealing with similar details.  If you're taking damage sufficient to require shield or armor repair and your fleet has logistics ships, call for that in the in-game Broadcast dialogue.  Otherwise, keep the detail to yourself or save it for the after-action conversation.

Take a Deep Breath
The best voice communications in a PvP situation is calm voice communications.  Keep your voice slow, steady, and measured.  Do not panic, do not raise your voice.  A normal tone of voice is what's called for here, at a normal volume.  If you feel your heart rate going up during combat, stop and take several deep breaths.

During PvP combat, the adrenaline is pumping and everyone's charged up.  That's only natural.  But the fleet and the op will be more successful if everyone remains calm on TS.

Putting It Together
Here's a few examples of the differences between good communication and bad communication.
  • Wrong: (narrates, no ID, bad location, j-word, excited): OK, I've jumped through to Jark.  Got a couple of reds here, they're orbiting the gate, one's really fast... damn, he bumped me!  He's targeting me!  Help!  Jump through and help me!  Oh, I'm dead!  And they got my pod! 
  • Good: (bad ID, verbose, excited): I'm in Jark, on the Sasta gate.  Crusader on microwarp!  He almost bumped me!  OK, got three other reds here.  Looks like a gatecamp.  There's a couple of other ships off the gate watching the camp.  OK, red Domi launching drones on someone! 
  • Better: (a little too brief): Ripard in Jark, Sasta gate.  Four reds on the gate, looks like a gatecamp.  Interceptor, two cruisers, and a battleship. 
  • Best: (longer is OK if you convey useful information): Break recon, Ripard in Jark, on the Sasta gate.  25 in Local.  Four reds at gate: Crow, Zealot, Zealot, Domi, attacking a neutral.

  • Wrong: (narrates, no ID, no location): OK, got the target... locking.  Activating scram.  Firing missiles.  He's 50% shields.  He's attacking me, but I'm OK.  Got him into armor.  Face-melting damage!  Into structure!  Dead!  I'm gonna go loot him! 
  • Better: (no ID, excited, but otherwise OK): One point, web on target!  I'm primaried, target is aggressing! 
  • Best: (stay calm): Point, web on target.  Ripard is aggressed.  (then click "Need Shields" in Fleet Broadcast)

  • Wrong: (no ID, j-word): Did you jump?  I think I missed the jump.  The lag is killing me.  Is everyone lagged? 
  • Good: (if you need help): Ripard is still in Sasta at the Jark gate.  Lagged.  Request orders. 
  • Better: (you don't need any help): Ripard's in Sasta, lagged.  Will catch up. 
  • Best: Type "Ripard's one jump back, in Sasta, lagged.  Will catch up." into text chat.

Combat Communications
Once you understand the fundamentals, it's time to learn the key phrases and key concepts you'll need to know in PvP Communications.

PvP Combat Communications
The following are verbal PvP combat communications and their meanings.  In particular, when the FC calls for "battlecomms" or "tight comms", please follow this order.  During this time, the FC is waiting or listening for recon reports, issuing orders, or just needs a moment to think.

General Communications
These commands will be used by the FC and his or her scouts and skirmishers.
  • Battlecomms or Tight comms or Combat comms: command: radio silence for combat comms. 
  • Break: command/request: please clear the channel so that I may speak. 
  • Recon or Scout: request: please clear the channel so that I may report enemy contact.
Don't get offended when someone says "battlecomms" or "break" or "recon", just shut up.

Combat Communications 
These commands will be used by the FC only.
  • [X] is primary: command: direct all of your offensive weapon fire (but not your EWAR!) on target X. 
  • [X] is secondary: command: lock target X; once the primary target is dead, begin firing on target X. 
  • [X] is tertiary: command: lock target X and be ready to fire on target X if ordered.

Navigation Communications
As you approach a gate, the FC will give you your orders.  If he's busy and doesn't give orders, the default instruction is to hold at 500m from the gate and do not jump.  If you don't hear any orders, go with the default.  If you think you missed or aren't sure you heard the order, ask "orders on the gate?"
  • Jump jump: command: jump through the gate.  Only the FC should use this command!
  • Jump on contact: command: jump when you come within 2500m of the gate. 
  • Jump and hold cloak: command: jump when you come within 2500m of the gate, then remain stationary on the other side. 
  • Jump and align: command: jump when you come within 2500m of the gate, then align to the next gate on the fleet's route. 
  • Warp to [X]: command: warp to the designated location, holding your position when you arrive. 
  • Hold on gate!: command: belays any previous commands; do NOT jump; instead, hold at 500m from the gate.
  • Warp to [X] gate and hold: command: warp to the designated gate; when you arrive, hold at 500m from the gate.
  • Burn back to the gate: command: move at your best speed back to the gate you just jumped through, and hold at 500m from the gate.
  • Align to [X]: select target [X] on your overview, then select the Align button.  Do not warp to the target yet, just align to the target.
Don't confuse the terms "warp" and "jump"!

Scout Communications
These are informational, and will be used by the fleet's scouts, though everyone who falls behind should use "friendly in" as they catch up with the fleet, if the fleet is waiting on a gate.
  • Friendly in: information: a scout is returning to the fleet, jumping through the gate nearest the fleet.
  • Friendly out: information: a scout is leaving the fleet, jumping through the gate nearest the fleet.
  • Bombs bombs bombs!: information: the primary target is fitted with one or more smart bombs.

EWAR Communications
Your FC may wish for you to report EWAR as you hit various targets with it.  Some FCs want this, some don't.  Find out which your FC prefers before using the following informational phrases.  When using EWAR calls, you do not need to identify yourself unless you are in a skirmisher role.
  • Point on [X]: information: I have a Warp Disruptor (not a Warp Scrambler!) on the target.  Example: "1 point on Dominix."
  • Scram on [X]: information: I have a Warp Scrambler (not a Warp Disruptor!) on the target.  Example: "Scram on Dominix."
  • Track on [X]: information: I have a Tracking Disruptor on the target.
  • Damp on [X]: information: I have a Sensor Dampener on the target.
  • Paint on [X]: information: I have a Target Painter on the target.
  • Jam on [X]: information: I have an ECM jammer locked and active on the target.  Only call this if you have a successful jam (indicated by a grey count-down bar underneath the locked target).
  • Lost jam on [X]: information: I have lost the jamming on the target.
  • You may call multiple EWAR results.  For instance "1 point, web on Dominix."

Losing Targets, Leaving an Op
These commands are used if you no longer have a mod on a target or are leaving the fleet.
  • Minus one [X]: information: where X is a EWAR module, I am unable to continue operating that module.  Example: "Minus 1 point on Dominix." or "Minus 1 damp on Dominix."
  • Minus one [X]: information: where X is a combat ship, I am unable to continue in the operation, and I must leave.  Example: "Minus one Dominix" means that you are logging out of the game or leaving the fleet, and the FC is losing access to your Dominix.
Please make these calls in advance.  If you have a point on a target but have been targeted and have to warp out, the FC will want to assign your point role to someone else before you leave.

Other Combat Communications
There are no verbal communications for being attacked, losing shields, losing armor, locking a target, or firing weapons.  These things are common to combat and do not need to be communicated.  The single exception is when you are being fired on by multiple targets during a fleet engagement.  Some FCs may wish for you to call "Ripard is primary target" in this situation if there are multiple logistics ships nearby.  Ask your FC in advance if he prefers you do this.

Under normal circumstances, if you find yourself primaried and are losing armor, the better choice is to keep TS clear and use the in-fleet Broadcast button to report that you need armor repair.


Other Terms You May Hear
The following terms are those you may hear during PvP ops and their meanings.
  • XO: Executive Officer.  Second in command of the fleet, and may take over if the FC's ship is destroyed.
  • EWO or EWAR Officer: Electronic Warfare Officer.  If the fleet is big enough, you will have one of these to keep track of various EWAR groups and their target assignments.
  • Scout, Recon, Skirmisher, Bait: Each of these has a different role depending on the fleet or FC.  Scouts are usually alts or non-combatants who can report contacts but not join the fight.  Recons are usually CovOps or Stealth Bomber pilots directly aligned with the gang who may serve as a warp-in point.  Skirmishers are pilots of tough Assault Ships used to put the initial Warp Disruptor point on a difficult target.  Baits are large, tough-tanked ships that act as bait-ships for ambushes.
  • 360 Scan: The FC may ask one of the fleet's members to perform a 360 scan in the system, looking for targets.
  • Local: The FC may ask one of the fleet's members to continuously watch Local for targets.
  • Probe Scan: The FC may ask one of the fleet's members to continuously keep an eye out for hostile combat probes searching for the fleet.
  • Rear Guard: The FC may ask one of the fleet's members to fall back one or two jumps to make sure the fleet isn't being followed and to make sure nobody is falling behind.

EDIT (5/Apr/2011): Welcome Facebook visitors!  Feel free to stay a while.  To paraphrase Bachelor Party, "Exotic dancers on the left, boosters on the right."  ;-)  There are additional Guides and Classes you can access from the links at the top right of my page or the Labels below.  I also blog extensively on a number of EVE Online topics.  Feel free to browse.  Thanks for visiting!


    1. Very good summary!

      Myself, I still get too excited when giving recon reports - literally taking a deep breath before keying up is helping a lot. And of course practice, practice, practice; even when just moving a ship through friendly territory.

    2. Looks awesome. Just a few notes:

      The term 'bombs' is usually used to refer to bombs launched by stealth bombers, and may be considered a signal for small ships to cut their MWDs or warp off and for everyone to pull in their drones. I can't really think of a situation where a fleet would have to worry about smartbombs, but most likely they should be announced as such.

      Good FCs will announce the primary's ship type as well as name. This makes it easier to find that one Tempest out of a hundred battleships on the overview. Very good FCs will broadcast the primary.

      When giving intel, you should never list every drake and whatnot on the overview individually. If you can't get an accurate count, give an estimate. The FC has too much to do, and does not have time to sit down with a notepad and tally the number of times a scout says 'drake.'

    3. The one exception to not talking about what the enemy is doing to you is when you're scouting or baiting on a station or stargate. In that situation it is extremely important to be clear as to who is doing what, usually by calling out red boxes or aggression from enemy pilots (Example: "4 enemies on gate, two drakes, tengu and ares, I have red boxes from both drakes."). But for the love of God make sure you differentiate what you're doing to the target from what the target is doing to you. If you say "I'm aggressing the tengu." and someone has bad comms, they may just hear "aggression tengu" and failjump early, where as "I'm attacking the tengu" or "I'm pointing the tengu" is less likely to be misunderstood (at least in a baiting situation).

      And as an above commenter said, shorter is better, even if it's a little rough. There is nothing I hate more than hearing a scout saying "Enemy fleet comp is drake cane drake ares drake falcon drake rifter drake cane rapier drake scimi drake scimi scimi wolf jag drake" because it really tells you nothing. Take a second or two to actually count and give a report more like "9 shield BC, 3 logi, 2 recons and some light tackle". If the FC asks for more information, then you can start breaking it down a little. If you're struggling, hit d-scan (you DO have your d-scan window open all the time, don't you?), sort by type and give a rough count. 1 or 2 more BCs won't make a huge difference, but a random jumble of ship types makes it really hard to guess proper numbers.

    4. Awesome write-up! This should be shared with every player interested in Fleet PVP. With some minimal terminology changes I run my fleet comms very similarly, though I am a detail oriented person (for better or worse) and give/receive better details when needed.

    5. Wish we had this guide some years ago, operating on North. Though, back then VOIP wasn't yet inside EVE, and no broadcasts.

      Excellent guide!

    6. Moved to 0.0 about a little over a month ago. On the first couple of fleets, my own corpmates wanted to primary me. Yes you get excited (every time you get in a fight) but keep that to yourself. About comms: unless you are FC, XO, scouts, or have just discovered free isk you don't need to talk on comms.

    7. Excellent post! As the guy who plays scout/bait often, I found this an excellent read. After reading this I realized I'm the sort that gets too excited and such, so I'll work on that. tyvm for the post.

    8. All very good comments. :-)

      Those who are interested in scouting in particular should check out my dedicated scouting notes:

    9. Great post mate - required reading for people such as myself with limited PVP and comms experience.

    10. Nice writeup. Good to see many of Agony's concepts (and apparently some of our actual text too!) are reaching the wider community ;)

    11. Azual, feel free to overlay and replace the original Agony wiki text with this version if you like. I grant Agony full license and ownership of the revised material, with no attribution needed.

    12. i'm a little teapot Short and Stout,
      Here is my Handle, Here is my Spout,
      When i get all steamed up, then i Shout,
      Tip me over and pour me out.


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