But what does that mean, PvP?
The term gets thrown around quite a bit as the other half of the spectrum with PvE, but there are many types of PvP, and they each impart a very different skill-sets. In ascending order of skill (in my opinion) are:
- Bloc Warfare: I’m confident that any high-sec mission runner has the skill to join a null-sec alliance and PvP during major wars. Also known as “blobs”, these fleets consist of 70-80% DPS ships whose job consists of finding a target the FC calls primary, locking it, and pressing F1. The more advanced among these folks know how to align and broadcast for reps when taking damage. Whether you survive or die is more due to the strategies of the various commanders than anything you yourself do.
- Gate Camps: Sitting on a gate in a high-traffic area, these gangs, usually of between 10-20 people, attack anyone who jumps through the gate. In null-sec, they usually have at least one interdictor-class ship, but all gate camps have several fast-tacklers (ships with warp scramblers and MWDs) and scouts in the nearby systems to identify targets and threats. Gate camps are a good way to learn the capabilities of your ship – or various ships – and dip your toe in a diversified fleet. Usually, comms discipline is casual enough that you can ask questions, and the chances of dying are very, very low if your fleet is properly scouted. However, you’re not going to have balanced or riveting fights.
- High-Sec Warfare: Some corporations exist solely to declare war on alliances with thousands of members and trawl the corridors near trade hubs, looking for easy kills. This form of PvP requires more skill than gate camps, since you may need to find your targets, but you still will have complete control over the circumstances, so you are very unlikely to lose your ship. This PvP is akin to U-boats attacking an unarmed convoy. You will get juicy kills, but won’t face any danger.
- Low-sec Gang Pirating: As low-sec PvP, you can be attacked at any time, and this carries inherent risk. At any time, you could run into enemy gate camps or roamers and have to think on your feet. Cyno fields can bring reinforcements at any time, too. However, as predators, you will have space you frequently hunt and will know the normal patterns in the flow of traffic and enemies you’ll face. You’ll still be in control of which engagements you take and which you avoid. Individual pilots need to be much more aware and capable within their ships, but these groups usually bring overwhelming force, so occasional mistakes by one pilot don’t tend to cost them victory.
- Faction Warfare: I almost put this one sixth, after the next type of PvP. Some faction warfare is done in groups, but a lot of it is solo. However, because of the mechanics, getting “surprise” fights is somewhat difficult. Skill lies in knowing the capabilities of your ship and the ships you consider engaging. If you know which fights to take and which to pass up, you’ll do fine. Enemy reinforcements will be slow to arrive in FW sites, which offer considerable protection.
- Corp/Alliance Doctrine Roams: Using fleet compositions that have been well-tested by your corporation/alliance, you and your mates travel through either null or low-sec and engage anyone you find. FCs, scouts, tacklers (including bubblers) and logistics (reppers) require more skill than DPS pilots, but you do need to know the various engagement ranges and strategies to use versus a wide host of enemies. You also need to be familiar with your role in the fleet and the protocol on fleet comms.
- Black Ops (Blops) Gangs: Using a Black Ops battleship and a number of recon scouts, these gangs sit on the bridging ship until the scout finds targets. The scout lights a cyno (usually a covert cyno), and the rest of the gang bridges through the cyno to attack the targets. The sneaky factor (enemies see only one recon in system when they decide to engage) is outweighed by limits on the types of ships that can travel through a black ops bridge (bombers, T3s with the Covert Reconfiguation subsystem, cloaky recons, black ops BSes).
- Sniper Gangs: Consisting of tier-three BCs – usually Torandos – fit with paper tanks to maximize damage and speed, these gangs warp in on a group of targets, unleash their alpha damage, then warp off before anyone can get close enough to tackle them. Individual pilots need to listen very closely to FC commands, keep aligned to the right location, and follow primary targets. While the individual pilot actions aren’t difficult, they do require quick reactions. When a pilot makes a mistake (normally not aligning off correctly), death usually follows. If the fleet gets into trouble, the paper tanks on these ships usually crumple very quickly.
- Small Gang Warfare: Whereas pirate gangs tend to stay very close to home, I identify this group as traveling to unfriendly/unfamiliar space. Without stations to dock in to repair or familiarity with the traffic patterns in your roaming region, this form of PvP carries additional inherent risks. Consisting of between 3-10 players, these gangs require players to be very comfortable with their ships and how to use them in PvP. An individual fleet member making a mistake tends to result in lost kills or the death of the player or, in some cases, the whole fleet.
- Solo Roaming (Wink Wink): You’re the only player in cold, cold space…. But you have another character scouting or providing fleet boosts. Even though you have an advantage that others lack, you are limited by having only one brain to split among multiple characters, and no one else to back you up if you get into trouble. These players tend to have very expensive implants, ships, Loki fleet boosts, and scouts to ensure they have as much information and advantage as possible before heading into a fight. However, they succeed or fail based solely on their own skill.
- Solo Roaming: Just like the previous type of PvP, but without the advantage (*cough* cheating *cough) of boosts. Solo roaming is the most dangerous type of known-space PvP. Mistakes in solo-roaming cost you your ship and probably your pod. You have to be very comfortable with the moment after engagement and know how to pick your battles very carefully.
- Wormhole PvP: Perhaps the most difficult and most nerve-wracking, wormhole PvP is for the best PvPers. With no local channel, you need to be aware of your surroundings at all times, understand the capabilities of your ship, keep situational awareness, and adjust for the modifiers in your wormhole system. Pilot skill and awareness are critical to your survival, and being podded means you’ll be cloned in a known-space station and need to find your way back to your wormhole again. Usually, the ships fielded are 1-billion-isk+ in value.
Each type of PvP requires a different set of skills. To varying degrees, you need patience, knowledge, courage, judgment, serenity, luck, and risk-tolerance. When anyone refers to PvP, he’s invariably thinking about one or two of these types exclusively. “That’s not real PvP…” is a common complaint made by one group against another.
But they are all PvP, and I’d wager every pilot in the game can enjoy at least one of them. No one said you need to start with solo roaming. You probably wouldn’t succeed at it your first try anyways. I didn’t. I started with small gang, and was massacred mercilessly at first. A harsh education, to be sure, but one that paid off very nicely in a good body of experience and knowledge about what NOT to do.
That’s the point of this blog… to explore what PvP is, how to do it well, understand why others do it well, and keep abreast on any news items of interest to PvPers. It might include all the things that support PvP – markets, manufacturing, logistics, carebearing – but the focus is learning, appreciating, and studying the ways you can harvest tears from your enemies.