I've tried to write this very quick and very basic guide to FW for a friend who is thinking about joining. Thought others might find it useful.
PvP! The ability to shoot people in the face without getting GCC or those nasty security status hits in low-sec!
As an individual, if you have 0.0 or better faction standing, you can join as an individual with the corrisponding NPC corp:-
Amarr - 24th Imperial Crusade.
Gallente - Federal Defense Union.
Caldari - State Protectorate.
Minmatar - Tribal Liberation Force.
If you have bad standings then you can join an existing militia player corp.
You can enlist your corp into faction war providing the corp standing is 0.0 or above to the faction.
You can enlist your alliance into faction war providing EVERY corp has 0.0 or better standing to the faction.
If your standings drop, you will be kicked from militia.
When you join one militia, you become at war with another two. Caldari and Amarr are allies as are Minmatar and Gallente. Join the Minmatar, and the Caldari militia can shoot you as well as the Amarr!
Fight for Control!
Control of a system is gained by running complexes. If your faction controls a system then you get bonus' and the ability to dock in stations there. If the system is controlled by the enemy, you cannot dock in any of the stations!
Enter a low-sec system and use your system scanner and you should be able to scan down complexes (don't worry on board scanner gets an automatic 100% hit) of varying sizes. Each size of complex restricts certain sized ships through the acceleration gate.
Minor Caldari Outpost - Known as a "minor" - T1 frigates and destroyers.
Caldari Outpost - Known as a "medium" - T2 frigates and cruisers and smaller.
Major Caldari Outpost - Known as a "major" - BC and down including T2 cruisers.
Each of these three types will spawn every 30 minutes in each system. Some times you will see an unrestricted plex. These are one of a number of plex that randomly spawn (which are in addition to the normal three types) of which there is a certain number in each constellation. Unrestricted plex do not have an acceleration gate.
Once you warp to a plex it will show up on everyone's overview, including pirates and the enemy militia.
Once inside you will find a satellite at the centre. Orbit that (click on it and show info to see how far you need to be from it) and it'll count down. If you are in an enemy controlled system, the NPC Navy will spawn and attack you. If you are in a system controlled by your faction, the rats shouldn't shoot you. Once the counter hits 0, your done! You should see how contested the system is on the bar in the top left of your screen. When it's 100% contested the iHub becomes vulnerable and you can shoot it. Get the iHub into structure and you take control of the system at next DT.
You get loyalty points for offensive plexing. You do not get loyalty points for defensive plexing. You can donate your LP's into the iHub increasing the benefits to your faction in the system and giving your militia more influence in the warzone. Click the militia button and have a look around. It's fairly obvious how tier levels work.
Plexs are good locations to get fights. Kill the rats, sit on the warp in, wait for enemy to show up.
Hi-SecHi-sec is not safe in faction war. You can enter the enemy's hi-sec and an NPC Navy spawn will attack you. They do not point but they do web and in higher security systems neut heavily. The strength of the spawn relates to the security status of the system. In a 0.5 it is fairly week, in a 1.0 strong. The Navy can be tanked and kited so it is possible to enter the enemy's hi-sec and kill them when they think they are safely running missions.
You cannot cloak in enemy hi-sec (the Navy are tracking you)!
When you join faction war you will have the "Militia" chat window pop open. This will be full of spies so do not for one second think it is a secure channel. The enemy has ears and eyes and probably other body parts in there too. All the militia have invite only intel channels. You'll need to prove you are not a filthy spai before getting invited to those. Best way to prove you are not a spia? Kill the enemy.... a lot.
As a new player it can be hard to get into some of the roaming fleets. FW is full of spai's remember! Keep an eye on militia chat, there will occasionally be fleet adverts posted. The thing with faction war is it is great for solo and small gang. Get a few of your mates together and fleet up and go for a roam. Faction war is about PvP. So go find someone to violence!
That was a VERY quick guide to faction war. If it's pricked your interest have a search around and I'm sure you'll be able to find more in-depth guides. Or just join up and get violencing! That's the easiest way to learn ;)