I felt I could look back at my life and get a good story out of it. It's a picture of somebody trying to figure things out. I'm not trying to create some impression about myself.
Well I can tell you the first thing I've noticed. These guys are organized. Logistics, isk generation, jump bridges... it's all there in triplicate for you to peruse. 5 gets you 10 that they have actual real life accountants(who happen to play the game, of course) doing actual real accounting for them ingame. Joining up is like being swallowed up by this downhill snowball that no one knows how to stop. The trick is enjoying the ride.
Of course, if you read the news or the forums you'd think the NC were the most disorganized bunch of misfits out there. You'd also be under the impression that PL were handily beating the crap out of them in their own backyard(it's difficult for even the Drone Russians to convince themselves they're winning on that front). I think the problem is in realizing just how much of the NC there is. The reason you'll hear them say that losing a ratting super carrier isn't a big deal is because it genuinely isn't. Whereas the average player might think of that as a crippling blow, and some lesser alliances/coalitions the same, around here it's really really not. If they lost 10 of them at the same time, that's a big deal to anybody, but some idiot with a fail fit isn't helping anyone if he showed up to ops anyhow.
We're talking about a coalition a couple thousand shy of 20k people. That's just the full members, not counting anyone else. This may sound redundant, but I'll say it anyway: That's a lot of fucking people. So I start to see why the organization is so important. I also can see why sometimes an idiot might get a hold of a supercap. And why it might not matter too terribly much if it's lost.
So this is all observed as a non-combat pilot. What did I see when I got actually involved in some fighting? Lets take a look. Note that you won't get names out of me, even if they're easily found in other ways. FC's are as far as I'm concerned a non-person. I'll refer to them as "The FC" and that's all.
An emergency CTA went up saturday night, and I saw that a bomber wing was being formed as an auxillary fighting force. It's own independant fleet to supplement existing forces and help out in the battles to come. That sounded pretty cool to me, so I joined the fleet and rushed myself to the system of action, R10. Sadly, the drone Russians did not show. Like at all. So the NC downed the SBU's and that was that. We went ahead and made our way to the system that the FC told us to go.
I got a crash course in fleet bomber fitting and tactics along the way. I asked a few questions, but nothing too complicated, as we started to move. I was impressed though by the knowledge the average pilot in fleet had. Most were reasonably to extremely competent in both fitting and tactics, and for the first time in a while, I felt like the noob. But I learn fast, and I'm fairly certain that in a pinch I could work out exactly how the bomb runs/tactics are performed. It'll be a few months before I try them myself though.
We decided to camp a jump bridge in drone space(in R-6KYM) for a bit, and got a few kills doing it, but it didn't take long before we got called away to another emergency CTA. We ran through jump bridges, gates, and even a little bit of empire to make our way to 6OYQ-Z, which is when the fun really started.
After some time of getting set up(tactics that I'll be keeping a bit close to the chest for a bit), we began to do our bomb runs. Over the next two hours, we'd wind up, do some runs and then get reloaded at our POS. Sadly there weren't enough of us to kill much outright, but we were doing more than enough damage to drive the PL fleet off the field to rep. That was on top of the regular fleet doing the same and it helped keep them off the field. We kept on doing it, and after enough attrition the PL fleet eventually left. We outnumbered them heavily in the end, and it was only a matter of time before they left.
Note to PL, pound for pound you may be better than the NC, but don't go engaging someone who outnumbers you 15 times over and then complain that they outnumber you on the battlefield. Deal with it or go home.
I lost my own bomber to a badly timed lag spike right around the time that the rest of the bombers were actually scoring kills. I'm pretty sure my inexperience may've spoiled my own runs a couple times as well, but towards the end I was doing a much better job. Again, for a first outing, I did as well as can be expected. I get the feeling that my much enjoyed "100:1" K:D in bombers may be well out the window if I keep doing this, but efficiency and effectiveness are not equal things.
There was something that struck me as different than anything I'd experienced before. We needed bombs after the first 4 runs. We didn't have bombs but we didn't have to go find a station selling them. Behind the scenes someone was bringing in a can of them for us. That was on the fly as well: someone said to someone "we need bombs to keep doing this" and someone got us bombs. It's the little things that strike me about this humongous organization.