If you are a lead scout, your FC (Fleet Commander) is going to have a plan to move you along an ever-advancing tide that is your gang. Your role can mostly be summarized by the following responsibilities:
- Initial Assessment: Report hostile counts and ship types as soon as possible upon entering into the "next" system.
- Risk Assessment: Evaluate pilot traffic in a system containing hostiles to ascertain whether there is a hostile fleet enroute to intercept or otherwise compromise your own fleet
- Target Acquisition: Locate possible targets of opportunity and create a warp-in point for fleet action, when applicable
This basically consists of a combination of evaluating local and using DScan to identify probable ship types.
The Local part is easy. If you are NBSI (Not blue shoot it) then you take a quick count of all pilots that are neutral or worse and quickly report the count to your FC.
In parallel, you are performing a Dscan at 360 degrees with max range to get a first look at ship types in-system and reporting them to the FC. In larger systems (e.g. systems where distance between your location and the farthest celestials is greater than 14AU), this may mean flying to other parts of the system to effectively canvas the system with DScan.
In systems where there are no Player-owned-stations (POS), this is much easier, as the only ships flying about are occupied and active. In cases with one or more POS's, you can run into a situation where more ships appear in Dscan than there are in Local, as there are ships left unpiloted within the warm confines of the POS bubble that still appear in DScan. Obviously, cloaked hostiles are not shown in DScan either, so the quick, initial assessment is either a confident: "4 Hostiles: 2 Vaga, a Muni and Caracal" or soft: "4 Hostiles: shiptypes unknown, possible targets on dscan include..."
If you have more time (edging upon target acquisition here), you can quickly identify POS locations, warp to 100km and identify unoccupied ships and mentally remove them from the DScan tally.
Typically, immediately upon entering a new system and while getting to a safe location (or cloaking), I will do a max DScan and give an initial report on total (Local) hostiles count and probable shiptypes, then quickly perform a directed DScan (30 degree or less) at the gates within the system to quickly see if there are any ships at the gates, which typically sounds something like: "4 Hostiles, probable 2x Vaga, Muni, Caracal" then about 10-15 seconds later: "2 Vaga on xxx gate, 1 on yyy gate".
The initial assessment needs to be fast and as accurate as possible - remember the FC is going to make fast decisions on fleet movement based on your reports - it could be the difference between a good kill or a substantial fleet loss if you get it wrong...
I will post about risk assessment in the next post.
Fly Safe (or not...)