Friday, November 20, 2015

Lessons: Take a Chance

A lot of Eve players operate under the principle that losing a ship is somehow a negative, and should be avoided at all costs.  These players view it as a negative ledger item, a debit in the overall accounting books of their character.  That’s one way to look at PvP, but it completely misses the point.

Ultimately, PvP is about squeezing enjoyment of the game.  I view it as the end game because it’s the only activity in Eve (other than giving your isk away or buying plex) that consumes resources by nature, when done effectively.  Everything else accrues assets, but without something to spend that money on, there really isn’t a point to that exercise.  Getting rich matters because of what it enables.

And the best PvP enjoyment happens on the edge, when you’re facing long odds and still manage to pull out a victory.  Not only is the victory sweeter when it isn’t certain, but when being defeated by greater numbers or stronger ships, you can avoid the “regret” and “anger” stages of the process and get right to learning what you did wrong and improving.  After all, if you take a fight you should probably lose, you can’t very well get mad at the result, right?

Sometimes, you have to take a chance, like I did in my Harpy.

(Fair warning… I’m not linking kills in this article because I was flying one of my alts, and I’m not keen on giving up his name just now.)

I was flying around Caldari/Gallente FW space in my Harpy the other day.  I was a little tired of flying T1 frigates, so I decided to take on small plexes in an assault frig.  I love this little ship, and it’s a fairly common fit, so I’ll link it:
[Harpy, Dual ASB AB]
Damage Control II
Magnetic Field Stabilizer II
Co-Processor II
 5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50
Medium Ancillary Shield Booster, Navy Cap Booster 50
Faint Epsilon Warp Scrambler I
 Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
Light Ion Blaster II, Void S
[empty high slot]
 Small Ancillary Current Router I
Small Anti-EM Screen Reinforcer II
It’s a great little ship that I’ve used to kill whole gangs of scram frigates solo.  The only real frigate threat comes from webbing frigates.  There are a lot of them in faction warfare, so I didn’t view this little ship as a guaranteed win, particularly with T3Ds infesting the war zone.

Where this ship really shines, though, is when outnumbered.  The dual ASBs allow it to take an incredible amount of punishment, so provided you can kill one ship quickly, you can usually cycle your ASBs and survive through reloads when facing 2-3 pilots.

So, when I entered Hysera, I warped to a small and did a quick dscan as I approached.  IT was clear – disappointing – but I was on my FW character, so I decided to run the site.

A few minutes later, I saw a Hecate pop up on short scan and started to align out.  Close range brawling frig vs. close range brawling T3D?  No, thank you.  I want to take a chance, not suicide into a wall of pikes.

When I saw the Hecate enter the plex, I warped to a safe and did another quick dscan.  Outside were another Malediction and a Worm.  Now, while a T3D warping into a small plex to take on an assault frigate is slight overkill, there are some assault frigate fits that could wreck a T3D, so I can’t really condemn the guy.  But to bring a Worm and another pilot to point from a distance with you speaks to a level of risk aversion that is certainly deserving of contempt.

I wanted to make them pay for this overkill.

After a few minutes, I noticed that the gang was still sitting at that plex, probably hoping I’d return to earn that sweet LP.  Because I aim to satisfy, I warped back in.

This was not a “yolo” moment.  Rather, in the worst case – all three of them sitting on the outside of the plex – I could warp slide to enter the PLEX, then warp off again before they could catch me.  The Malediction would be a challenge, but a quick scram inside the plex might finish him off quickly.  I felt pretty confident I could escape.

But when I landed, I came out of warp right on top of the Worm, with the Malediction about 10 km away, and my plans changed immediately.  Overheating, I burned straight at him under MWD and started applying damage. Naturally, the Malediction warp disrupted me, but he wasn’t applying enough damage to make a difference.

We were both scrammed, I was approaching him, and he was trying to burn away.  I was watching his shield collapse just as he was starting to move out of my optimal+falloff.  I was doing significant damage while still sipping my first ASB.

Then the Hecate landed at zero.  He had warped out of the plex when I engaged, and was only now getting back.  But it was too late to save his Worm friend, who exploded for a killmail worth 105 million isk.  The Hecate held me long enough for a fourth friend in a Comet to pile on to the kill, but he started reapplying damage as I started to take his shields down.  The Comet barely had a chance to activate a module before I died.

I knew I’d likely lose my ship going into that engagement, but I took a chance and had a very satisfying engagement as a result.  Interestingly, the Worm was fit without any rigs, which certainly reduced his tank, albeit ever so slightly.  And by hitting them when they were split up, I was able to trade a 55 mil ship for 105 mil worth of kills.

Perhaps most satisfying to me, though, was the punitive aspect.  Risk aversion is something I believe has very negative consequences to the game, and this situation allowed me to punish that group for bringing so many people – including an overpowered class and an overpowered pirate frig – to kill one lonely assault frigate who, based on the people in local, clearly did not have links.  That the pilots involved were part of a FW alliance known for only taking “safe” engagements was icing on the cake.  They tried to fight in absolute safety, and I was able to punish them for it, coming out isk positive two-fold while fighting outnumbered.  I personally find a lot of enjoyment from that.

It was all made possible by me being willing to take a chance.  Sticking to safe engagements will, ultimately, leave you with noting to feel proud about, nothing to brag about, and only regrets.  When you win those safe engagements, you’ve quite often learned nothing because you haven’t been tested.  And when you lose, your loss is shameful in light of the obvious advantage you held at the beginning.  Taking only guaranteed wins is, in effect, setting yourself up for failure and limiting your enjoyment.

But, when you fight a larger gang or more powerful ships, you can take genuine pride in your victories.  Yes, you have to pick your moment, and yes, you’ll probably die.  But in dying, you gain the satisfaction of either learning something new or overcoming the odds, both of which boost your confidence for the next fight.

Since the whole point of PvP is enjoyment of the experience, don’t limit yourself to the crumbs of the PvP feast.  Box above your weight, take some chances, and reap the pride of success when it comes.  That’s how you fall in love with this game.


  1. For me it's about how much the ship I am flying will cost to replace. I'm far more likely to engage in a 50m ship than I am in a 500m ship. That's why cheap ships are more fun. When I have a trillion isk I can yolo 2b isk tengus all day long and not worry about it. Until then tho....

  2. To the anonymous poster who left me an eyes-only comment, PM me in-game with your comment. I'd like to respond!

  3. Another great lessons post, Tal. Keep'em coming :)

  4. Exclusion bias.

    The way I read that you did in fact yolo your AF into a small gang and died as expected. You merely got lucky that the worm was that bling, otherwise your fantastic 1:2 isk ration could easily have been a mediocre 2:1...

    ISK ratio's of 2:1 don't make for such nice "lessons" (or reading) and get's excluded. I would hazard a guess outcomes like the latter are also much more numerous than the odd win.

    Now don't get me wrong, good on you for yolo'ing your ship and imploring people to try - lets just emphasise that yours was a long shot so people understand this - but also when you get lucky it feels good so lets try.

    Kinda like the reason I played golf. I sucked. But every round I would hit that magic 7 iron 160 yards and land 1 ft from the hole. I would live for that - it did not matter that I average about 135 shots to complete 18 holes...

    Keep it real!

    1. The Worm was fit with only T2 modules; and in fact no rigs or high slots. So the module cost of the fit was minimal. The majority of the value was in the hull, which I could tell from a dscan.

      To me, it's not a yolo if you have a reasonable win solution at hand. I hoped to catch one of them off guard and kill it before friends arrived. But for the pesky Malediction being on the same side of the acceleration gate, it worked.