Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Alliance of the Willing

I did not intend on writing or using this blog as a vehicle for personally attacking anyone, no matter how much their writing marks them as unintelligible fools without the capacity for rational thought.  It’s a pledge I intend on keeping.  To that end, I will not make any comments about how a person identifies himself as a cretin unworthy of the title “writer”.

That said, read this article.

Perhaps the author doesn’t realize that only those who make their living fanning the flames of racial unrest make comparisons to chattel slavery.  It’s a degrading comparison any time it’s made, it insults an entire group of people (Americans, not just African-Americans), and it is a mark of an intellectually bankrupt argument.  Only those who have been defeated by logic, evidence, and experience make such claims.  It’s possible he wasn’t aware of this.

Secondly, his “evidence” is circumstantial at best, and built around a narrative that he chooses to believe as a member – and donor – of Test Alliance.  Do you know why alliances were asked to leave the CFC?  Failcascades resulting in ½ of the corporations leaving, changing the nature of the alliance.  Failure to show up for CFC operations despite wanting and receiving spoils from prior campaigns.  Basically, not pulling their own weight.

No one can deny that Goonswarm is the first among equals.  Why is this?  Is it because they’ve tricked everyone else into believing their equals while they’re being flogged?  No.  It’s because the Something Awful forum and culture was one that established a number of strong personalities, personalities who were well-suited to coalition-building.  Yes, without Goons, the CFC wouldn’t exist.  They built it, they established a “coalition of equals” concept and proved the functionality over the course of years.

Note that bit…. proved the functionality.  The CFC exists because Goons said they would treat everyone as equals and…they…lived…that…promise.  The alliances of the CFC handle their own internal affairs.  They can go to war as they see fit, provided it’s not a blue (which they’ve all consensually set blue).  They can establish any internal policies they wish.  All that is required is that they provide pilots for coalition wars.

Why do they do this?  Is The Mittani some sort of Svengali who is manipulating his allies?  Of course not.  They do it for two reasons, and two reasons alone.  The first is fights.  The CFC alliances are PvP alliances, and they want to kill people.  The Mittani provides this, as well as the logistics that make sov warfare happen.  Goons offer coordination of diverse alliances, and do it well.  With the CFC, you gain victory because of coordination and organization.  That’s what they provide, in addition to their own pilots.

The second reason is territory, including moons.  When wars end, the spoils are divided based on the participation.  Alliances that contributed pilots, operations, and logistics are rewarded, and those who did not perform are not.  In this sense, spoils are divided based on merit and worth.

That is not slavery.  That’s a confederation attitude.  The Mittani gets his kicks leading this effort, but the CFC alliances follow him because he delivers on all his promises.  If he started being a space tyrant, his allies would stop showing up and his power would evaporate.  The true skill of The Mittani is that he is keenly aware of this.  Fidelity keeps the CFC together.

But Gevlon brings historical precedents into the argument, so let me give you a more apt comparison.  The CFC is the thirteen US colonies at the implementation of the Constitution in 1789.  A multitude of states gathering together for common cause, defense, and profit.  Yes, some states are more important (Virginia, New York, South Carolina, Massachusetts) and others less so (North Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey).  I’d say Goonswarm is Virginia – populous, powerful, and wealthy, providing many statesman.  But Razor is Massachusetts, a state boasting a proud history and strong foundation.  And FA is South Carolina.  On occasion, the union might lose a Georgia (who never participated in the second Continental Congress that drafted the Declaration of Independence), but those states who show up and remain – at their core – the same alliance are always welcome.

Test would be Canada – they opted out of the union and never bought into the “alliance of the willing” model.  The difference is that while Canada was saved during the Revolution by Benedict Arnold taking a bullet at the Battle of Quebec, Test had no such good fortune.

But this lengthy response already does more service than an argument that resorts to racial imagery deserves.  Nor should the Test Alliance that performed so nobly at 6VDT deserve such a ranting travesty of agirprop as racial demagoguery as appeared in that post.  They performed honorably, hardly deserving the insult of being referenced in such a shameful post.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Charge of the Test Brigade

4,070 pilots.  Over 7,000 killmails.  Time dilation maxed out for 6 hours.  Actual news organizations covered it here and here.

The official stats (?!?) aren’t in, but I’m sure this is the largest battle Eve Online has ever seen.  It included bomb runs and welps.  Fleets fighting to the death (kudos, Tribe), panicked efforts at escape, and doomed remnants taking down a final target.  It showcased all the things Eve is about.

I wasn’t there.  My wife and kids take priority on the weekends, and I couldn’t log in until it was all over.  But I was watching Dotlan and saw the killmails start to pour in.  I was gnashing my teeth at missing it.

But I’m not going to rehash a battle I didn’t see first-hand.  Even if I did, I would have experienced only one piece of it.  The whole report can be found here.

The point of this article is character.

Looking at the CFC preparation for the battle (Goonswarm towered every single moon in the system ahead of time to deny Test a safe POS, for instance), it would have been easy for Test to stand down and save their resources for another time.  Their ship replacement program is behind, they’ve had to resort to donations to keep it going, and their finances are tapped out after about seven months of constant warfare.  Trolling aside, the smart – and completely understandable – move would have been to stand down and wait until their allies could come help them with defense of another timer.

But Test wanted the fights, and their allies stood by them.

I had planned to write an article about this battle talking about how Test’s donation drive depended on one fatal flaw in their logic: that their pilots had other choices for continuing to fight the CFC – other corps or alliances they could join – and wouldn’t sacrifice all for Test.  I expected their numbers to be anemic.  I’m not sure how their numbers compared to turnout earlier in the war, but that doesn’t really matter.  My pre-planned narrative changed completely when they brought their full might into this battle.

They were sending a message. They should have stood down.  It was a fight that didn’t need to happen in the long view.  But they wanted to send a message that, while they recognized they were outnumbered in pilots, they refused to have their will broken.

You can’t control how often you fall down.  It’s whether you stand up that matters most.  And Test showed that they were willing to keep standing up, keep fighting as best they could.  Their performance is proof of their character.

As a Razor pilot, I’m bound by a policy of no talking in local chat.  It’s a policy meant to prevent us from burning any bridges with alliances or players who we might deal with in the future.  It’s meant to demonstrate our professionalism.  We aren’t trying to embarrass or shame anyone.  We’re playing the game with established mechanics.  We jump in, murder you (or get murdered) drop a “gf” in local, and leave.  Business.  But I do compliment pilots who perform exceptionally well, either in character or skill.

I’ve seen a lot of tears, and a lot of bad behavior from Test pilots in local.  Smack-talking and insults abound.  From their local chat, you’d think they were a bunch of children smashing their keyboards when they lose ships.

That image is entirely erased after yesterday.  Clearly, Test may lose this war, but their will may never be broken.

And to prove the point, they killed an Avatar that wandered too close to a POS shield.  WTF, buddy?  I was four jumps away in a Wolf when the ping for a rescue fleet went out, and you were dead by the time I landed on the 6VDT gate.  You could have bought two Titans for that fit, and you went down so fast that the officer mods clearly didn’t help.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Moment After Engagement

You’ve been flying all night with only an empty industrial and an afk noob ship on your killboard.  What started as an inaugural solo roam to try out your new Vagabond has turned into a boring slog through endless empty null-sec systems.

Having gone through most of Syndicate, you’re starting to get tired of watching that wormhole animation on screen.  Every time that vortex forms, you hope you’ll find someone – but not too many targets! – on the other side.

The screen’s starting to blur now, and you’re just about back to low-sec.  Maybe you can find someone heading through the null-low gate.

Loading grid, you see another neutral in system and start to perk up a little.  A quick dscan shows nothing, but the other gate is 21 au away.  Considering for a moment, you click the button and warp to 30 on the gate.  Overheated, you can pull a 28 km point range, and you’re in a Vaga… it'd be easy to burn to the gate if necessary.

Within 13 au, you hit your dscan again, but don’t see anything.  Curious.  There is a station in system… maybe he’s docked?  Switching overview tabs, you check for bubbles and probes.  One mobile warp disruption bubble on scan.  And you found out too late.

When you land, you’re unlucky and are deep in the bubble.  But the grid is empty, so you start to burn towards the gate and hit your MWD.  Just then, a Manticore decloaks and scrams you.  Then local starts to fill up as you see the gate fire from the corner of your screen.

Anyone who has PvPed has experienced that moment when the proverbial feces is in flight, and the fan isn’t far away.  This moment, the moment after engagement, is the most important moment during a fight itself.  It’s the point when the most critical mistakes are made.  It’s the point when an experienced pilot has a huge advantage over a newbie.

Sure, analysis was needed to fit your ship just as you wanted, and knowledge normally helps you decide which fights to take and which to avoid.  But all the knowledge in the world can’t prepare you for the adrenaline surge the first time you find yourself in an actual fight.  Your fingers will actually shake.  The blood pumping in your veins will make your vision blur a little.  You can tell yourself, “It’s just Internet pixels…” all you want before-hand, but it won’t help.

The first time, some people will freeze up and not know what to do.  Some will instinctively burn back to the gate or to where they warped from.  Some will start shooting wildly at whatever is closest.  But the veteran will quickly assess the situation – or at least the parts that immediately affect your fate for the next few seconds – and implement the knowledge they’ve gained.  Let me give you two examples, one good, one bad.

Two years ago, I was in Imperial Legion back when they lived in Geminate.  I jumped into a system in my Drake and found a Curse sitting on gate.  I immediately engaged, thinking, “missiles hit every time, I can take him down easily.”  Within 30 seconds, I was capped out – I was MWDing towards him, after all – and all my active hardeners shut off.  His drones made quick work of me as I desperately willed my scourge missiles to take him down before I died.

I didn’t think to switch to Caldari Navy scourge missiles and try hit the drones.  I didn’t realize my active tank was particularly susceptible to a few cycles of a Curse’s neuts. I shouldn’t have taken the fight.  Having taken it, I should have realized that drones were the Curse’s sole weapon.  Instead, I watched helplessly as he whittled away my shields, armor, and structure, then moved in to scoop my wreck as my pod warped out.

Fast forward to last week.  I wanted to make some safe spots at our new staging station in 4-EP12 in Fountain.  Looking at my hangar, I passed over my Wolf and Jaguar.  Normally, I’d go with a frigate, and I only fly T2 frigs.  But I checked the stats, and my Vagabond was only 200 m/s slower than my assault frigs, had a neut, and 220mm guns.  If I ran into trouble, I’d be better off with the Vaga than the AFs.

When I landed on the first gate I intended to make a scout point off, I landed in a bubble with about ten hostiles.  A Stiletto was right beside me and immediately scrammed me.  Carefully, I aligned back to the station and immediately applied my neut to him.  I pointed him anyways (why not, right?) and activated my 220’s in case I got lucky with a shot.  For a while, nothing happened.  Then my neut dried out his cap and he ground to a halt.  Only now did I launch my Hobgoblins – I held them in reserve because I knew they couldn’t keep up while he had his MWD on and I wanted to be able to apply damage immediately.  He started to pull range without his MWD, but my drones only had to hit three times before he was dead.  Freed from his scram, I recalled my drones and warped out before his friends could reach him.

The difference in my performance?  Two years of PvP experience gave me the foundation that let me survive.  Last week, I could have dropped my drones immediately, forcing them to travel much further before they could apply their damage – perhaps far enough that the other hostiles could reach me before I could kill my tackler.  I could have opted for one of the AFs, denying me my most powerful weapon: the neut.  I could have simply frozen or burned in some random direction instead of aligning out to a safe.  The adrenaline was still pumping, but in those two years, I’d learned to manage it better.

That’s why you’ll constantly hear that the best way to learn PvP is to try it.  You’ll lose ships – sometimes a lot of ships – but it all pays off in the end.  If you want risk-free practice, load up the Singularity server and try a few ships and tactics out with a corp-mate.  There’s a reason all alliance in ATXI do it.  It’s time well spent.

But get in a ship and try it.  That’s the only way you’ll ever learn to survive the moment after engagement.

The Next Dominos to Fall

An interesting development in the PvP world today… R O G U E Alliance, an ally of Razor , has decided to leave Cobalt Edge, ostensibly handing sov to N3 and PL.

I find this very interesting as an outside observer.  On the one hand, ROGUE is fighting with the CFC in Fountain, and they are blue to Razor as well.  On the other hand, handing sov to NC. seems like sleeping with the enemy.  It’s possible that some isk changed hands, but I’m intrigued by another possibility.

In this article, it’s suggested that ROGUE is interested in full CFC membership.  Despite reports, the CFC treats all member alliances well.  The component alliances are treated well and all share in the spoils of any conflicts.  It wouldn’t do for any alliance to be relegated to Cobalt Edge for very long.  When I’ve flown with ROGUE, they’ve seemed pretty competent.  I think they’d make fine allies to anyone who wants them.  And after this war in Fountain, it’s very likely that the CFC will end up with a lot of prime real estate.  Too much, I suspect, for the current alliances to handle.

You see where I’m going with this?

An inventive mind can conjure up all sorts of scenarios.  Goons moving into Fountain (and the front lines, likely) and handing Deklein to Fweddit and ROGUE, perhaps?  Pushing further into Delve, maybe, and handing over further spoils?  One thing is certain.  The Fountain War is likely to be nly the opening campaign in a much larger effort.  I don’t see the CFC forgiving or forgetting those who have helped Test – even though their best move was to help Test.
As a Razor pilot, I’m doubly interested in what happens in Cobalt Edge and Oasa (note: I’m not on the troika or a director, so I have exactly zero inside knowledge into the political decisions Razor makes).  I’ve long bemoaned the lack of juicy targets in close proximity to our stomping grounds.  I longed for the Fountain War to last all summer so I could milk it for kills, but I’d be just as happy deploying anywhere that has targets.

I think we’re starting to see some of the next dominos to fall.  This should be a great summer for PvP, and I highly encourage anyone interested in it to join a bloc – any bloc! – now.

Bombers, Caracals, and Talwars, Oh my!

While null sec gets most of the press on TheMittani.com and Eve News 24, CCP knows full well that most characters in New Eden spend their time exclusively in high-sec.  Now, many of these characters are market, trader, hauler, and mission alts of null-sec players, and these characters will likely never leave the protective womb of CONCORD.  Yet there are thousands of players who were turned off by the risk factor of null-sec.
Greedy Goblin makes a good distinction between two types of players, competitive and objective-oriented.  I refer to them as experience and achievement players, but the dichotomy is pretty much the same.  I’d hazard a guess that most high-sec mission-running players are achievement-focused.  Calling them carebears and leaving it at that is a great disservice both to them and to null-sec players.  After all, someone has to fill and empty the POS, run industry, etc.  If it’s not an achievement player, it’ll have to be an experience player, and the latter would much rather spend their time killing folks.
One of the CCP’s objectives with the Retribution expansion was to make PvP more accessible to the larger Eve populace, namely these achievement players.  And it worked like a charm, drawing a whole new set of players into PvP.  It’s easier to try something new when you only have to risk a lose a Stabber than a Vagabond.  Rebalancing the T1 ships made them viable again, and lowered the cost of entry across the board.
Then Odyssey came, and with it came moon goo roulette.  The CFC, Test, N3, and pretty much everyone else lost their minds as they did the region shuffle.  Wars were pandemic (see what I did there?), supercapitals were welped, fleets of AHACs and Rokhs were wiped out.  In Fountain, the CFC and Test Bros adjusted their fleet comps to counter their opponents…
…by choosing talwars, caracals, and bombers?
Wait… what?  Extremely wealthy alliances are fielding T1 cruisers and destroyers, along with stealth bombers?
I suspect this development is a problem for CCP.  A while back, they revealed some stats about player wallets, indicating that players were earning more isk, but were hoarding it rather than spending it.  I know I’m also building a cushion in case something catastrophic happens to my hangar.  What that *something* is eludes me, but I’m clearly not the only one doing it.  After Retribution, most of my hangar shifted from T2 to T1.  It simply doesn’t make sense to risk 3x the isk when I go solo roaming when I can get more fights – and ones I can win, at that – with the T1 variants.
Alliances, on the other hand, have been nerfed significantly by the Odyssey moon goo changes.  Ship replacement programs are in significant jeopardy now.  Two alliances have asked for donations from their members (donations!).  The CFC switched to caracal and bomber doctrines.  Test is fond of Talwars.  I’ve gone on several Tornado roams where Razor runs into T1 fleets.  Normally, we decimate them, but when we don’t it only takes a few Tornado losses to make the engagement isk-neutral or unfavorable.  I have to imagine this has made some alliances (those interested in isk-efficiency) risk-adverse to using their own shinies.  From the way doctrines have gotten less expensive, I’d have to guess that this has already started to happen.
Why does this matter?  Two reasons.  First, I wonder how long T1 frigates will interest null-sec players, and even low-sec players for that matter.  I doubt a group like Goonswarm will be discouraged (they’re famous for grinding structures for weeks and months on end), but is that true of everyone?  You can only spend so many days killing Caracals or Talwars before you start to burn out and yearn for the sexier kills.  My heart skips a beat when I kill a T3, an Armageddon, or a carrier because of the value of the kill.
And it’s definitely true that Eve matters because the losses are significant.  A 250 mil ship loss hurts a lot more than a 40 mil one does.  When I engage some hapless pilot with my Cynabal, my heart starts pumping and the adrenaline kicks in.  By the end of the fight, my hands are shaking – even if I’m only killing a hauler.  It’s not the fight itself, but the possibilities… it could be a Battle Badger with a cyno and I could lose my pretty little slug.  A gate camp could be waiting on the other side.  When I’m flying a Stabber?  Meh, I just don’t care that much.
Faction warfare is already a good refuge for players who want constant, cheap PvP.  And Retribution provided a huge shot in the arm for faction warfare.  It’s great, if it’s your sort of thing.  But the changes to moon goo in Odyssey have already undercut the high-risk PvP that draws a lot of people to null-sec.
And that brings me to my other concern.  CCP has a vested interest in providing the drug we’re all addicted to.  When an Asakai, Burn Jita, or a large wormhole fight happens and billions of isk is destroyed, some portion of that will end up being replenished with PLEX.  Granted, ship replacement and wormhole loot will replenish most of it, but not everyone is as patient as that, and some folks need isk immediately (especially after a Burn Jita when mission runners need to replace their expensive ships before they can earn more isk – that event wasn’t all about jump freighters!).  When the thousands of engagements happening every day turn from 250 mil Cynabals to 40 mil Stabbers, CCP loses.  Fewer players feel they need their ratting alts, so they unsubscribe.  Fewer players suffer huge losses, so they stop buying PLEX.  And – to some extent – fewer players get the same thrill from killing T1 throwaway ships and Bittervet Syndrome becomes more prevalent.
I want CCP to make money, particularly in ways that players can opt into and which don’t generate a pay-to-win situation, like PLEX.  The more money CCP makes, the more developers they can hire and the more advertising they can do to thwart player bleed.  I’m curious which has a larger effect on the total amount of isk lost in the game: the increase in the number of ships lost or the decrease in the individual value of those lost ships.  I’m sure CCP is watching PLEX sales and isk loss very carefully, and I suspect the T2 rebalances – and iterations of it - will reflect those discoveries.
One further side note: there’s a lot of talk about CCP doing away with moon goo as a passive income source.  I sincerely hope they don’t, because all it’ll do is eliminate most ship replacement programs and encourage null-sec alliances to further down-shift their doctrines.  I shudder to think of a null populated by slap-fights in ships that can literally be replaced by the hundreds.  A much better option would be to help better distribute those moons – both by smoothing out the distribution and introducing some advantage for living near the moons you own (which could mean reducing the cargo size of silos, perhaps?
I like an Eve that has low, mid, and high value PvP available to us pilots.

Show us on the doll where he shot you…

I had considered writing an “about me” post to inaugurate this new blog, but I certainly wouldn’t read such a post from someone else.  When I started reading Eve blogs, I was looking for tips to help improve my PvP, not learn about personalities.  I found Jester’s Trek, Poetic Discourse, and The Altruist, great blogs filled with tips I used to improve my flying.  Each expansion changes the rules and the “way” to fly, so we need a continuous stream of articles to help coach the younger players.  Those who have knowledge need to pass it on, particularly in Eve.  Hopefully, those of you who choose to comment will correct me where I’m wrong.  This blog’s goal is to serve as a resource to encourage and help new folks interested in PvP, null-sec, and low-sec combat.

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.