Step 1: Just do it!
Many times the position of squad lead is looked upon as an experienced position. One that requires both organizational finesse and intimate knowledge of game mechanics and base layouts. While these things will definitely help you, all you truly need to be a successful squad lead is a Planetside 2 character and a microphone. Specifically in VCO, we require potential squad leads to first try their hand at leading untagged public squads, and this is an excellent way to get started. Start your squad with some outfit members and open it up to the public, or take over an existing squad whose lead logs off. Once you’re lead, all you need to do is get your squad good fights. If you’re having fun, it’s likely your squad is having fun, too. Don’t force yourself to do anything you’re not comfortable with, and take things slow. You’ll find that leading a squad isn’t so hard after all.
Respect the Average Player
Leading a public squad is by far the hardest leadership position you can have in this game. It is important to keep in mind several important factors when leading a public platoon to avoid personal frustration, and to maintain an enjoyable experience for your squad.
Don’t get upset if your squad doesn’t follow your orders. The average player doesn’t log that many hours, is usually a casual player, and may not know all the ins and outs of the game. They may have randomly accepted a squad invite, took the game’s suggestion of joining a nearby squad, or just got automatically dropped in the squad upon login. It takes a while for new players to get on board with cooperative play, so give them time. Once you have a good number of people following you around, the rest usually see how effective it is and fall in with the rest. Good public squads are hit and miss, so if a squad is truly 100% unresponsive, don’t be afraid to disband and try again. Otherwise, positive reinforcement and continual praise for those who accomplish objectives will help encourage more players to follow you, and helps them respect you more as a respectful leader.
It is also important to be aware of your own self improvement in this process. You are always getting better and more knowledgeable at this game, and if you don’t recognize your self improvement, it will seem as if everyone around you is getting worse. Remember that new players start out with nothing, and they have to learn just like you did. Blaming the average public player for mistakes just because they didn’t know better makes you look bad, and perpetuates the bad and incorrect NC shaming culture of Emerald.
Act Quickly and always have a Backup Plan
Rarely do well thought out plans ever go down just as you envisioned. Try to keep decisions short and simple, and leave lots of room for changes down the line. You will fail, a lot, so don’t choke up trying to formulate a fool proof plan. You’ll get better at this over time, but the important thing is to keep going. Take a look at the map, learn to read the basic patterns of bases and enemy movement. Learn to interpret friendly and enemy populations in neighboring hexes to determine the flow of combat. Eventually, all of this will become second nature, and you’ll be able to, at least, get close to your objectives on the first try.
You will still fail often, so always have a backup plan. Anything can happen between you and an objective, so be prepared to switch it up. Showing preparedness for all situations builds confidence within your squad, and they’ll be more inclined to follow you into more dangerous situations. Pay attention to your squad on the mini-map and be aware of when they’re dying too much or have been wiped off an objective. The worst thing you can do is be silent after a wipe, leaving your members wondering what they should be doing next.
Try not to send your squad into situations it can’t handle. Be realistic with your objectives and avoid putting your squad in a situation where the goal is unattainable. You don’t always have to fight for an objective or be on the front lines, but you should always be doing something. There are plenty of things a squad can do in between objectives, like running interference, disrupting an armor column, or destroying enemy spawn logistics. Always keep in mind these tactical decisions that your squad can have your succeed at and feel accomplished with minimal effort.
Know when and where to pull more Spawn Logistics
The key to any fight is maintaining spawn logistics. This is not just to the benefit of your squad, but the friendlies around you that make large fights possible. Many times, it will be up to you and your squad to resupply a region with more spawn options for friendly forces. While dropping on a point via a Galaxy or Valkyrie is effective, it can’t be trusted to work for the long term, so you should always have a backup for when your aircraft are shot down.
Study the bases you go to. Look to see how others have placed their Sunderers, and recognise the base routes to take to objectives. Effective Sunderer placement if often the difference between a win or a loss. Encourage your squad to use the best Sunderer at any given fight, and discourage use of Sunderers in compromising positions.
And those are the basics! Once you start, you’ll quickly learn the more advanced concepts and intricacies of squad and cohesive play. All you have to do now is start up a squad and keep at it. Soon enough you’ll be enjoying the fun and rewarding experience of a squad lead in Planetside!