Within MoX we will often open our squads as primarily a recruitment tool, and also to increase our numerical impact upon the battlefield (If you play on Miller come join us!).
Leading a public platoon is one of the most challenging and exhausting roles in Planetside 2. It is a task that sees you trying to mould a group of unknown individuals into an effective fighting force. Success is demanded, and good administrative skills are required, as is an ability to read and predict the flow of battle.
(This guide is written in the assumption that you have at least 4-5 outfit members online and playing alongside you in the platoon, If you are leading on your own (very brave) some aspects of this guide may not apply)
Recruiting and forming your Platoon
Forming your first squad
Your initial goal is to create an 11/12 squad. Most players when looking for a squad or platoon to join will gravitate to the 11/12 platoons, so this is your target. First create your squad, give it whatever name you desire trying to make it stand out from the crowd (I tend to put dungeon keeper quotes in mine) and deploy to the warpgate ensuring that you are on a popular continent with a lot of traffic (there is little chance of gaining recruits on a continent where no-one is fighting).
Once at the warpgate take some time to build your initial squad by inviting individuals to the squad by holding Q on a friendly character then selecting “invite to squad” from the radial menu (if the option is greyed out then they are already in a squad).These initial members may or may not stay with you but should be retained as much as possible to encourage players to join via the squads menu.
while you are creating your squad it is often a good idea to ask an outfit member playing alongside you to spawn a galaxy for transport ready for your squad to embark once sufficient numbers have been gained.I choose a galaxy over Sunderer because it is a big easily spottable transport and gives the impression that the outfit people are playing with is organised enough to use them. From the players boarding you get an initial indication of which players will follow direction and which are simply adding numbers to your new squad and can be culled first. It also dissuades squad members from spawning armoured vehicles of their own which can prove problematic for the squad
Forming a platoon.
Each time you form a new squad you should lead it with an outfit member. This is necessary to ensure that the new squad has some direction and that waypoints and spawn beacons will be placed in an intelligent manner. This has the side effect of diluting your outfit members who will be acting close together, which can impact on your ability to field a rapid response team to deal with any immediate threats, spearhead advances, hold vital positions etc.
The new squads may be opened for recruitment, through Alpha squad should remain the primary recruitment squad, when a new member joins one of the existing members should be moved to another squad. You should also try to note the outfit tags on your squad members and keep those people together as they may either have joined together and will leave if split, and they are also likely to be more effective grouped together.
Before expanding into a platoon you should take the time to cull those members who are not following the platoon or its orders. Start with those who are on another continent then as a new recruit joins keep removing a poor member till you are left with only those players who are following orders. This task should be repeated regularly, with special attention paid to when you are redeploying to another location.
Controlling your Platoon
In many cases a Public platoon is little more than a harnessed zerg and will generally advance and assault following the guidelines laid down in a previous post here.
This behaviour can be manipulated to a degree by communication, grouping of your core members and positioning of spawn points which will be addressed below.
It is also worth noting that as poor players are removed from the platoon and the members that stay play together they start to act less like a zerg and will follow directions and orders more regularly. This is a somewhat slow process however and may take some hours to complete.
The public platoons I have played in have been a somewhat silent affair. Occasionally the platoon leader may ask players to load the Sunderer or move out, but more often than not you are forced to read the text box to receive updates of orders or simply guess the objective based on the current waypoint.
When I lead a platoon I take a different approach. I talk, and I keep talking. As is the case within most outfits I will be talking with the outfit members in teamspeak, though I will also communicate orders, directions, enemy positions, anything that could be relevant for the squad in in-game voice. I will also be repeating myself, restating that I need the platoon or a particular squad to go to an objective praising members when they perform well (or simply follow directions) and chastising them when they behave like lemmings and refuse to follow orders. If this is maintained eventually a few platoon members may feel confident to speak as well and you will not feel like you are directing a herd of deaf elephants as much.
Some players may react poorly to having orders relayed to them in such a fashion and this is fine your playstyle and theirs obviously do not work well together and they are better off in another group. Most times they will simply quit the platoon, but be ready to kick if needed.
Occasionally you may have another non-outfit player who attempts to take charge through in-game voice. I am normally quite tolerant of this as long as you are able to maintain control as even though they may be rather annoying, they are making the effort to talk and this may encourage others. Again if they become disruptive or a severe hindrance they should be kicked.
Often you will know though analysis of the battlefield what the two opposing zergs will do, Unless you need the platoon members to be elsewhere it is worth ordering them to attack the location they were most likely to anyway. This keeps the communication stream going, gives the public members of the platoon the sense that they are following orders, and keeps them predictable so your outfit squad can maneuver around them more effectively.
The Outfit Squad.
You should always have one squad where your outfit members are grouped. Initially they will be within Alpha squad, though as time progresses those who are not tasked with leadership of their own squads should be grouped together in their own closed squad (not Alpha as players looking for a squad will always prefer an alpha squad).
This squad should be hammer to the public squads’ anvil, and should be tasked with the most important or complex maneuvers. If you need a particular point held this squad should do the job. The outfit squad should also be the first people you turn to for logistical requests such as Sunderer or galaxy spawning or vehicle support.
A common use for the outfit squad is to follow the directions laid out in Facilitating the Zerg to flank or assist your public squads in achieving the current objective. The Outfit squad will always be the core of your efforts within a public platoon and you will find life much harder without the numbers to field one effectively. For this reason i would advise against creating too many new squads unless you are sure you have the numbers to do so.
When leading a public platoon I endeavour to keep all public members as infantry as much as possible. A player who spawns a tank will not be kicked but they will be watched carefully as they will now have a greater tendency to strike out on their own or ignore orders. This is due to a combination of factors including a reluctance to abandon their big shiny toy and an increased maneuverability which makes it easy for them to become separated from the remainder of the platoon.
When fighting as infantry players do not have the mobility to easily become seperate to the remainder of the platoon, they also have a tendency to group together for support which makes it easier to control the platoon as a group. They also are revivable which again keeps them together as much as possible as respawns can cause the platoon to fragment and separate as members try to reach the front line.
Separation is a major risk to both the combat effectiveness and recruiting effectiveness of the platoon, and should be avoided as much as possible. Potential recruits often check the map screen to see where you are deployed, if they are greeted with squad members scattered far and wide then they are less likely to join the squad (I will tolerate a scattered squad if you have less than one 11/12 squad as I feel that figure is more important when recruiting).
The combat effectiveness of separation derives not only form less guns pointing towards the target, but it is liable to cause confusion as platoon members struggle to identify where they should be heading. Generally when looking for allies they will initially look for a large clump of friendlies favouring firt their own squad, then other squads within the platoon before finally sticking with any group of friendlies in the area. It is important to try and keep the squads together to prevent losing members this way.
Squads that are able to operate together are also likely to perform better due to an increase in the confidence of the individual members from both a desire to mutually support each other and a perception that the player is operating in an organised squad.
Spawn control is a useful mechanism to help fight the risk of separation and down time for members of the platoon. Members of the public squad are less likely to wait before spawning or spawn at a designated location, instead they will spawn at the first available and closest spawn point. This will often be a sunderer as the timer on this is less than the base spawns. A risk involved in this is that the platoon members may be spawning at an undesirable location, so it is important to keep control of a local sunderer and ensure you have a local spawn point which seems desirable for a player looking at the redeployment screen.
I will often repeat in platoon chat that members are to rely on medic revives first, then spawn beacons / squad deploy, and finally sunderers. It is unlikely that mentioning medic revives first will prevent a player from spawning at the first available opportunity, but reminding them about beacon / squad deploy often helps keep the platoon together.
Target selection and redeployment
You should take care over your target selection and endeavour to select a target that is winnable and not so large that the platoon is likely to get lost or become bogged down in a meat grinder. A good rule of thumb is to attempt to target a location where you will have a fight but also enjoy numerical superiority, as if you engage an organised outfit you will be at a disadvantage.
Once a target is selected you should be prepared to remain on site at the engagement as redeployment from is difficult to achieve as players will often prefer to remain at the fight and will therefore need to be kicked. Biolabs are notorious for this and should be approached with caution, as even attacking a satellite of a biolab will cause members of your platoon to be drawn into the lab where they will often be lost to you as they fight in a meat grinder type fight oblivious to orders. Players will also finish their fight or stay till they die before redeploying and will often check their local map to see if there are still local platoon members in the local area and if there are they may also be reluctant to redeploy.
At the best of times redeployment may take time as players either trickle slowly into the warpgate or struggle to locate transport form a local base. Setting a reasonable time limit helps here, as it lends a sense of urgency though you should always leave on deadline (unless someone has asked you to wait or is running to the transport) as failure to do so projects the impression that players can get away with not following orders.
In my experience the only safe time to redeploy without losing members is after the battle has finished and there are no enemies in sight. Even then you may have someone who will not join you or has blindly advanced with a zerg.
The Tame Zerg
Running a public platoon is both exhausting and rewarding, sometimes you will be frustrated at your platoon members refusal to follow orders, while other times you will be genuinely proud of their achievement after forming ad refining a group of good players over the course of an evening. It is also a very effective tool for recruitment, and if you take care of your good players they will join your platoon when they see them or ask to join your outfit.