Friday, November 28, 2014

What Newbies Need to Know About Eve

After reading a lot of the comments on Reddit and seeing a lot of new players come into the game, I wanted to share a few insights that will help set new players’ expectations and set them on a path to success very quickly.

I’ll give full-disclosure here.  I want you to stay long-term.  I want you to love this game as much as I do.  That’s my only agenda here.  It’s a pretty mild agenda, in fact.  Ultimately, your experience with the game will determine if you stay.  But starting the game with a compatible frame of mind will definitely help.

So I aim to provide.

#1: You Will Lose Ships

You’ll lose ships in high-sec (ganks, as we call them, when you had no interest in PvPing and were in the safest area of space).  You’ll lose ships in PvP.  You’ll do your best and you’ll lose ships.  Sometimes, you’ll go up against people who have a half-dozen implants and fleet boosts, all of which make them very, very hard to kill.  Any player can be killed in any ship anywhere, provided that his attackers are willing to sacrifice enough ships and want to kill him badly enough.

If you go into low-sec, null-sec, or wormhole space, you have to expect to be attacked by anyone you meet.  That’s a given.  In high-sec, though, there are things you can do to protect yourself.  Don’t fly with too-valuable cargo; anyone who will try to gank you is going to do a cost/value analysis.  If their ship costs 80 mil and you’re hauling 100 mil, you’re likely safe – not all of your cargo will drop, and the other player will be losing on the deal.  But if they see you flying around in a shuttle with 20 PLEX, you’re done for by the first person who gets a cargo scanner on you.  Always assume everyone knows what you have in your cargo.  They probably do.

You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll lose incredible amounts of isk.  I one lost a 500-mil Domination tower when my transport was ganked.  That loss stung.  But I haven’t made the mistake of over-loading my cargo value again.

In PvP, you’re going to do everything right and still lose.  That’s okay, so long as you learn from it.  Maybe you flew your Tristan as well as you possibly count, but were going up against a Rapier (okay, don’t fight web-bonused ships in a T1 frigate solo next time).  Maybe you were kited in an Incursus by a pesky missile ship (okay, don’t take long-range fights when you’re brawler-fit).  Keep learning and you’ll get a lot better.

#2: Bigger ≠ Better

Don’t be in a rush to jump into larger and larger ships.  The larger the ship, the more your support skills matter, and your support skills are going to be low as a new player.  Frigates are where you want to learn PvP… the hulls are cheap and you have a lot of lessons to learn about actually playing the game, operating the controls, tactics, and the various strategies different pilots and ships use.  Make those mistakes with cheap frigates.  Take it from me… learning those lessons in a 450-mil Sleipnir is no fun.

But, more than that, larger ships like battleships aren’t meant to fight frigates… they’re meant to fight battleships.  The guns of a BS cannot track a frigate, and if you fly under the, “Bigger is Better” mantle, you’ll end up fitting your ship with large guns, only to find they can’t track small targets and you die to a single frigate.  It’s hilarious to fly a frigate and tackle a Tornado battlecruiser, surviving because his guns are so large he can’t hit you, while you slowly whittle him down with your pesky 150 dps.  It’s the satisfying experience that lasts.

Perfect your skill with frigates first.  The rush you’ll feel is exactly the same as the rush with larger ships, and you can get that “fix” for a lot less isk.

#3: Get Out of Newbie Corporations

Every new player starts in a new player, NPC corporation.  These corps are meant to be learning corps, where you can ask questions about performing various functions in the game.  I recommend getting out of this new player corp as soon as is humanly possible and move into a player corp.  There are a lot of corps that specialize in teaching new players about the game.  I can’t recommend Eve University enough… they have classes that teach you different things about the game, a range of different areas (low-sec, null-sec, WH, etc.) based on your interests, and there is no such thing as a stupid question.  It’s the perfect place to start your Eve life.

Your goal should be to get out of high-sec.  High-sec is poison to your Eve career… spending more than 3 months in high-sec will cause you to become risk-averse, contemptuous of Eve’s sandbox environment, and will teach you bad habits that will get you killed more often.  Spending time in low-sec or null-sec is harder and carries the opportunity for more-frequent losses, but it’s absolutely the best way to harden yourself and learn how to survive.

You don’t really learn until you’re put in danger.  Get into a player corp, get into low-sec or null-sec, and put yourself in danger.  Nietzsche is your friend, here!  Embrace danger and you’ll experience the thrill of this game while learning and growing all the way.

#4: Brush Yourself Off, Pick Yourself Up

You will be scammed at least once.  It’s an absolute fact.  I’ve been scammed multiple times.  I’ve fallen for a 2-billion-isk margin trading scam, I fell for a moon-trade scam costing me 2-billion-isk, and I’ve purchasing a 700-million-isk Ballistic Control System II before (they’re actually about 700,000 isk).  I’ve bought a contract with Tengu skillbooks instead of Tengu subsystems, too.  It happens.  It’s part of the game.

It’s frustrating, of course, but never forget that the fact that you care demonstrates the enjoyment you get out of the game.  I also remember that, in every case, I screwed up (except the margin trading thing… the mechanics should be adjusted to prevent that sort of thing).  But if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.  The only “get rich quick” schemes are in scamming other people.  Everything else requires work.

Just remember that the enjoyment you get out of the game is why you come.  The frustrations are fleeting.

#5: Don’t De Facto Believe the “Experts”

People love to wave their dicks around, telling everyone how smart they are and how much they know.  The “best” solo PvPers, for instance, fly with fleet boosts and run with a full flight of Snake implants.  There’s a reason they’re good – because they pull all the angles.  But they won’t tell you this is what they were doing.

Rich players will tell you how “easy” it is to make isk… then proceed to talk to you about flying a maxed Tengu worth 1.1 billion isk, for which you need 600 million in implants and need to be a part of a null-sec alliance – hardly accessible to everyone.  I’m even guilty of this one from time to time.

Ultimately, you need to take everything you hear and use it as YOU see fit.  Just because someone else has success flying a particular ship with maximum fleet bonuses and a head full of the finest implants doesn’t mean that tactic is viable in general.  Try things for yourself.  Test them out cheaply before you fully commit to them.  The “Experts” often forget that they’re flying with lots of advantages – skillpoints, implants, boosts, drugs – that you simply won’t have access to early on.

Don’t get me wrong… there are lessons you can take from their advice, but a lot of times, certain tactics or methods only work when you’re at the higher-end of isk.  Market trading with 500 mil is a lot different than market trading with 50-bil.

#6: There Is No “Right” Way to Play*

Despite what you hear, if you like to mine, mine.  If you like invention, invent.  If you like to run missions, run missions.  There is no right way to play Eve.  Most players do a wide variety of activities.  I dabble in market trading, moon mining, PvP, ratting, and WH exploration.  Sure, most of what I do is PvP, but I need to fund it and my accounts somehow.  The important thing is to enjoy yourself in whatever activities you prefer.  If you don’t, then Eve is a job.  And that’s no fun at all.  Don’t make it a job.

* That said, there is a WRONG way to play.  That’s trying to do it solo.  Eve is a MMO – a massively multiplayer online game.  Make connections with people, join a corporation that offers a community feel.  Get on Teamspeak or Mumble (two out-of-game audio chat programs used to coordinate alliance/corp activites) and talk to people.  The thing that’s kept me in Eve for four years is the other players – my friends.

CCP’s statistics show a stark contrast… those players who join a community of other players are hooked for the long-term, whereas players who play all by themselves burn out and leave.  The enjoyment of an activity comes from having people around you to share it with.  Make those friends and find it!  You’d be surprised how receptive other players are to welcoming newbies in!

#7: Tears Are For the Other Guy

You aren’t entitled to anything in Eve.  Every time you undock, you’re risking whatever ship you’re in, as well as any implants in your head.  Undocking is consent to be PvPed upon.  Understand that at the outset, and you’ll obviate many of the tears you might otherwise shed when something goes against you.

When you lose a ship, are ganked, or are scammed against your will, it’s a wake-up call that you were being lazy and that you’ve forgotten the basic premise of Eve: that there’s always risk.  You made yourself a target by flying a too-flashy ship, being careless, or flaunting predictability in other pilots’ faces.  It’s a sign that you made a mistake.

And that’s fine (see point #1).  But being a smart player means that instead of crying about how unfair it is or complaining that CCP should prevent players from exerting their will on others, you decide to learn from the experience and commit to preventing it from happening again.  Smart players pick themselves back up.  Dumb players are those who don’t want to learn how to play intelligently and quit the game.

And that’s a decision that you’ll make every time you face adversity.  Do you want to be the kind of player who gives up, or the kind of player who relishes the chance to improve, grow, and emerge victorious the next time?


Eve is a brutal game to those who come expecting a hand-holding, or who are used to their Mommy telling them everything is going to be okay.  It’s not just going to be okay – you have to MAKE it okay.

Many times in the past, I’ve referred to Eve as “Will-to-Power in Space”.  In no game I’ve ever played as the distinction between “MMO” and a single-player game been more pronounced.  There is no option to play the game solo.  At best, you’re ignoring the others who are playing the game with you.  Even if you solely manufacture and trade, other players are doing that too, other players are responsible for supply and demand, and other players are likely trying to undercut you, whether you know it or not.

There is no “at rest” state in Eve… the equilibrium is always a balance of violent passions.  And that’s why its players are so passionate about it.

If you approach Eve from the understanding that every player wants to play “his” way and is competing against others who’s way differs, then you’ll do well in Eve.  If you play it from the perspective of someone who wants a bubblegum game where you can happily frolic off on your own without choosing to interact with others… well, you’re going to be disappointed.

I hope this quick primer will inspire you to interact with Eve Online the MMO in a healthy way.  In that vein, I’m going to give you a salutation that encapsulates the very best attitude about Eve…

I look forward to killing you and being killed by you!


  1. Nice writeup.

    - Would just like to emphasize a general point that underlies much of what you said already: for new players coming into EVE from other MMOs (theme parks in particular), most of the assumptions you may have about what the "point" of the game is and what gameplay is allowed/disallowed probably do not apply here. EVE is a very different game to most MMOs and you'll get the most out of it by adopting a different view point about content and gameplay achievements than in those. Keep an open mind; joining a good corp or speaking with good players will help with this.

    - Expanding on "you will lose ships" -- you will lose indeed ships, some of them expensive. EVE is a PvP game -- if someone has blown up your ship (even when you didn't want him to!), remember in most cases they are nice people just playing the game. You're absolutely free to do exactly the same. (Side note: try to really understand what "griefing" and harassment should mean in a nonconsenual PvP game before throwing those terms around.)

    - About not playing the game "solo", I fully agree with what you wrote. I just would perhaps change the wording slightly. For me, it's something like you cannot play EVE "in isolation" -- you cannot play as if it's a single player game that just happens to have other dudes flying around as well (as you said). However, there is still much scope for "solo play" within the multiplayer world. For example, you can roam solo. Or do PvE/exploration content solo -- as long as you recognize how what you're doing solo interacts with the mechanics and threats of other players around you.


  2. I think the only thing you missed is that if you lose a ship to NPCs, that you lose it just like if you lost your ship to another player. Heck, I once lost a mining barge to an exploding asteroid.

  3. Great article. Even though I haven't been subscribing for the last few months for financial reasons, I've played EVE a lot over the years, and yet I still feel like a noob. A lot of that is down to my not having followed the advice you give here at the outset - joining corps, learning stuff, trying things out. EVE is definitely tough to break into, as anyone knows, and feeling lost so much of the time is part of why I haven't become hardcore player, but I think it's telling that even as someone who doesn't understand half of what's going and isn't even an active player, I still love EVE, read every dev blog and tell all my friends that they should play!

  4. As much as I agree with most of your terms here are my extra two cents:

    1- You can play solo, I do. I love to plan and execute as big, or as little, as running five accounts on my one player C3 WH corp. 2x Full deathstar Mimmatar POSES. I explore, trade, PVE, and FW with my 14 pilots. BUT it requires lots of patience and planification. Nonetheless the PVP rush is very addictive.
    2- Read about EVE, no, I mean it, I mean it very very badly. I pass every day through a dozen EVE bolgs (God I love and hate you blog writers, missing Jester alot too). I cannot concieve playing EVE without having read the ISK The Guide twice; the first time youll finish it.... scratch your head and..... WTF???!!??).


    1. I picked up on the "solo" part as well. I think a large part of what he's saying is not that solo gameplay is not possible, but rather that having friendly contacts and finding a good community (be it corp, local, NPSI, etc) is very important. This is doubly so for new players -- striking it out solo in EVE is much more viable for vets than newbies.

  5. Thanks for the great mention. We try to help at EVE University.

  6. Tal, all I gotta say is, Yer completely right, except where yer wrong...

    And if yer gonna be wrong, at least do it The Wrong Way... go get em Hermit! =]

    Oh and, if I may quote CCP Seagull;
    "But both small groups and solo players are very important in the design work we are doing now and to our vision for the future of EVE. First project where this should be visible is the corporation and alliance system work we are starting after the summer - that will look deeply at small and medium sized groups, including corporations where all characters belong to a solo player. Stick around for that and give your input!"

    Solo play can be and is a thing in EVE... but it's just like the Tao of Holes... not a game for the weak... It is a playstyle that favors boldness, intelligence and extreme self confidence, but it is a playstyle that eats raw then spits out the timid and the fearful... very niche gameplay in our very niche game.

    1. Nice reply, and good article in response. The vast majority of newcomers to the game aren't suited to solo play immediately upon starting. In fact, if 9 out of 10 players leave within a couple months, I also think it's safe to say 8-9 out of 10 of those who do stay get involved with a corporation and a group of players.

      That means 1-2% of those new players play solo - and that's a pretty high estimate. And that's after a number of months of playing.

      I'm not saying solo isn't viable as much as I'm saying that, for new players, solo isn't the way to start. You have way too much learning and dabbling to do to be able to do it solo. It's very easy to become discouraged or feel like there's too much and this game is too hard when you're all by yourself. Getting involved with others gives you multiple examples of success, as well as a support group to help you get there.

      So, solo is definitely a way to play. But it's absolutely the worst way to tell ALL of our new players to try the game initially. So it doesn't work as a prime strategy to really engage new players.

    2. Oh please understand, all of us who have commented agree solo is very niche gameplay in EVE... not saying yer wrong... well, ok I did say that... but it was only AFTER I said how very right you were... =]

      All in all an extremely good post and absolutely spot on for the vast majority of our new bros... Kudos.

  7. i've been a solo player since 2009. it is possible and be successful playing solo.

  8. > Undocking is consent to be PvPed upon.

    Absolutely fucking not, and you ruined your otherwise pretty-good post with this stupid little nugget of bullshit.

    By getting out of bed and leaving the house in the morning, you incur the risk of being run over by a bus. This is not at all the same as consenting to being run over by a bus.

  9. AnonymousDecember 3, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Hi-sec much? Comparing real life to a game is pretty absurd. EVE is a PVP game in every single way. How you can think otherwise is mind-boggling..