But hold that thought for a moment.
Null-sec alliances cycle between deployments and down-time. During a deployment, they’ll stage out of some distant system, where all PvP characters are expected to base themselves for the duration of the campaign. Alliance contracts, logistics, and jump freighter services are all moved to that staging system. All PvP fleets stage out of that system. The deployment may be as insignificant as a search for “gudfights”, or as important as an all-out bloc sov war lasting for months (albeit unlikely; one of those hasn’t happened in years).
People tend to think the “exciting” times are the deployments themselves. They see the large fleets and fleet battles as the height of PvP in Eve.
But let me ask you one question. How many times have you thought to yourself, “Boy, I’ll remember that battle forever. I flew circles around the enemy, and it took all my skill to survive. My blood was pumping, and all I had was my knowledge, experience, and my character’s skills to keep me alive. It was a near thing, too. I barely pulled that one out?”
Yeah, not so much.
Deployments are for padding killboards. During a deployment, the odds of your skills mattering in a given fight approach zero. No amount of skill you possess can overcome the alpha strike of 150 Maelstroms calling you primary. You live or die by random chance. Hopefully, you can kill several of the enemy before you explode.
But this doesn’t make you a great PvPer.
Look at anyone’s eve-kill stats. Go ahead and look at mine, if you want. You’ll notice that some months, I have hundreds of kills worth billions of isk. Some characters in high-sec war-deccing corps have thousands of kills. To determine how good of a PvPer that person is, you need to ask yourself a few questions.
- How many of those kills are solo, or with less than three friendlies? Anyone can gank a passerby with a fleet of 20 or get kills in a sov-war fleet of 250 vs. 250.
- How many of those kills are in high-sec? Most high-sec kills are against unarmed or unprepared targets – many of them right off Jita undocks.
- Look at the “related kills”. How many times was the character triumphant over superior numbers?
They fill your killboard with sound and fury that signifies nothing.
It’s during the down-time when you can really improve your PvP skills. While the majority of your alliance is ratting up income, you and the other hardcore PvPers have the opportunity to roam. You won’t have superior numbers. You won’t have a whole fleet backing you up. This is when you make your mistakes, experience your triumphs, and learn how PvP really works – just you, a ship, and a hold full of nanite paste to repair on the fly.
That small gang you take out with four of your friends is what improves you. That’s when you run into a gate camp in your Curse. Or your learn just how well your guns can track. Or which fights to avoid.
War is for meaningless kills where your opponent either had no chance or your skill had no bearing on the kill. Peace is when you’re tested, beaten, and molded into something better than you were.