In a traditional PvP fleet, the FC will declare this target or that target as "primary", designating targets as primary one-by-one until they are all destroyed. However, this results in very little communications bandwidth for chit-chat, which is the only thing that makes repeating the same few incursion sites over and over again bearable. ;-) As a result, nearly all incursion fleets instead rely on Overview tagging of targets to designate which targets should be fired on.
This also introduces an element of increased flexibility for an incursion fleet, since there are several types of tags -- alpha and numeric -- that can be used to designate different types of targets. An incursion fleet includes different types of ships in different roles, so this differentiation of targets is important, particularly in the higher level Assault and HQ incursion sites. Before joining an incursion fleet for the first time, it is important to understand how these tags work so that you can direct your fire properly.
This guide will also cover the basics of how to tag an incursion site so that you can understand the theory behind what you are being asked to do.
It's also very helpful in incursions to filter your Overview such that fleet members do not appear on the Overview. This is done on the Filters tab, in the States setting, by unchecking the "Pilot is in your Fleet" checkbox. This will cause members of your fleet to disappear from your Overview. Since you will be fighting in incursions with between nine and 70+ other fleet members, your Overview will be much more manageable and less cluttered if your fleet members do not appear.
As your fleet's tagger works, tags will appear in the Tags column using numbers (0-9) and letters (A-J, X-Z). You will be shooting at tagged targets in either alphabetical or numerical order depending on your role in the fleet. As a result, many players in incursion fleets like to sort their Overview by tag while they are doing incursions. To do so, click the Tag column until it is in the desired order.
To understand how tags will work in incursion fleets, you need to understand the roles in an incursion fleet. There are five roles: FC, tagger, logistics, DPS, and sniper. There is a sixth role that might or might not be used in your fleet: drone FC. The FC will act as any other fleet FC will do, issuing orders which should be immediately followed. The tagger's role is to place tags for all fleet members to see on their Overview. Every fleet will have someone in the tagging role, even if that person is the FC doing his or her own tagging. Your role will depend on your ship type, and this guide assumes that you are either in a DPS or sniper role.
DPS are defined as ships that have good damage and tracking out to about 50 kilometers or less, depending on ship and weapon type. There will likely be a mix of both close-range DPS (most Minmatar ships, most Gallente ships) and medium-range DPS (most Caldari ships, many Amarr ships) in your fleet. Snipers are defined as ships that have good ranged damage from 50 to 150 kilometers (in shield fleets, for example, most will be Ravens, Scorpions, Maelstroms, and Nightmares). Your ship fitting will determine which of these roles you will take.
If your fleet has a drone FC, as soon as you enter the site, you will launch your drones and then assist them (not Guard, Assist) to the drone FC. This will cause your drones to automatically attack the targets attacked by your drone FC.
Tag Types and Uses
There are five types of tags:
|Full Fleet tags:||0 and 1|
|DPS tags:||2 through 9|
|Sniper tags:||A through I|
|Drone tags:||X through Z|
"Full Fleet" tags, 0 and 1, represent targets that the FC or tagger has designated for all available DPS. This means that DPS ships and sniper ships will both attack targets with these tags. The drone FC (if your fleet is using one) will also attack these targets. If you are controlling your own drones, it is generally accepted that you will put your drone DPS on tags 0 and 1 as well (though this varies a bit by fleet). In addition, any time that a target is tagged 0 or 1, no matter your role and what you are attacking, you will shift your fire to the newly-designated 0 or 1 tag. This will most often happen when a new spawn enters the field.
Otherwise, if you are a DPS ship, you will be shooting at targets in numerical order, starting with target 0 and ascending to target 9. Once target 9 is destroyed, you will continue with the lowest number target, whatever that may be. Watch for the creation of new tag 0 and 1 targets if they are created. In addition, listen to the FC for change of orders, which may happen occasionally, particularly in higher level or Sansha Mothership sites. In addition, you may occasionally be called upon to fire on sniper targets "until they are out of range." If that is the case, use the optimal ranges of your weapons as a guide to determine when that is.
Snipers will shoot targets 0 and 1 as needed, but will then attack targets in alphabetical order, from A through I. Again, watch for the creation of new tag 0 and 1 targets and redirect fire as needed to those targets.
If you have a drone FC, he will direct your drone damage to targets X through Z in order. Otherwise, assign your drones to attack targets X through Z in order. When target Z is dead, either direct your fire to the new X target, or -- if there are no targets tagged X through Z -- onto the current DPS target.
Do not attack target J until directed to do so! If a target is tagged J, this represents the trigger target that will cause a new wave to spawn. Attacking triggers out of order is the quickest way to be black-listed and prevented from attending future large incursion fleets.
Now that the basics are understood, let's look at tagging for a typical incursion site. As our example, we'll use the first and main wave of the Nation Commander Stronghold, the most difficult and most profitable of the incursion Assault sites.
The NCS includes an initial wave of more than 20 ships, which can be overwhelming to the beginner. Still, the mechanics of the targets are very well understood at this point, as shown from the Incursion Guide article above. Each of the nine types of incursion sites has such a page on the Incursion Guide website, and each divides the ships in each wave by the type of DPS that should be applied to the target. Review the article closely, and you'll find that these 20+ ships have been split into four categores: "full fleet", "damage", "sniper", and "drones." Like many incursion sites, the NCS has initial targets that the full fleet DPS should be applied to to knock them down as quickly as possible. After that is done, the player fleet can then split DPS by type to take down individual objectives.
The tagger should recognize right away from the guide that the Arnon Epithalamus and Mara Paleo are targets for the full fleet DPS. As the tagger enters the field, he should tag the Arnon with the "0" tag right away, followed by "1" and "2" tags for the two Maras. That will get landing ships busy. This wave also features a Niarja Myelen, an annoying jamming frigate that will make life difficult for the player fleet's logi pilots. That should be tagged with an "X" next, followed by a "Y" for the Schmaeel Medulla.
At that point, damage and sniper tags can be applied as tags 0, 1, and 2 are destroyed, starting with an "A" through "D" tags for the Yulai Crus Cerebi, then a "3" for the Auga Hypophysis, and so on until the entire site is tagged. Once near-complete, the tags you deploy will be:
|A||Yulai Crus Cerebi|
|B||Yulai Crus Cerebi|
|C||Yulai Crus Cerebi|
|D||Yulai Crus Cerebi|
This will leave a couple of untagged Romis and Renyns on the field. As the fleet destroys targets "2", "3", "X", and "Y", these tags can then be applied to the remaining ships. Your FC should remind the DPS ships that after they complete tag "9", they should proceed to tag "2", and that as soon as tag "Z" is destroyed by drones, they should move those drones to the new tag "X".
Tagging is an important role in an incursion fleet, nearly as important as the FC's role. A good tagger will make the jobs of both the players and the FC much easier, and allow the FC to keep the communication channel open for general chit-chat. Doing so makes incursions much more friendly and fun, sicne most of the fun in doing incursions comes from the social aspect of being mixed and matched with various other types of EVE players. Without a good tagger, this social interaction doesn't happen and doing incursion fleets becomes just another boring grind.
Don't forget to thank your tagger at the end of a fleet. Tagging is a thankless job, but the difference between a good tagger and a bad one will be all the difference in the world...