Saturday, March 7, 2009


The kill itself was unimpressive, however the fact that the Covetor had two warp core stabilizers fit and wasn't able to flee before I roasted his ship is sheer bliss. Dual cargo expander rigs and a few lines of whining in local tops off the killmail like whipping cream and a cherry.

Reminds me of a curiously fit Maelstrom that I tagged months ago. Why these people don't warp away, I don't know.


Roaming alone places a few basic, though critical needs on a pilot’s ship. In no particular order, a ship must have sufficient mid slots for a tackle kit, enough firepower to overwhelm opponents, enough repair or health modules to out last opponents, and the agility to choose an advantageous distance from a foe. While a mouthful, these principles are EVE PvP simplified, and not all ships match all of these requirements.

So, a pilot needs tackle, guns, endurance and a bit of speed to tie it all together. Simple enough, your basic Rifter exemplifies all these qualities, in a tight and wonderful duct taped package. The difficulty of undocking a Rifter to take on the world is while it is a masterfully crafted vessel, it has trouble engaging ships outside of its class. This means that while roaming, the Rifter pilot is required to avoid or ignore potential targets, not due to skill or ability, but by the limitations of the pilot’s ship. Not a good scenario.

This formula of ‘big fish eat little fish’ moves all the way up to battleships, which in the realm of what I’ll call fun solo PvP is the end and top of the line. There are however unique problems with battleships as solo PvP platforms. Trading maneuverability for power, they lack agility. Their sensor suite is more suited to targeting similar sized vessels, which equates to prey escaping merely due to lock times. Lone battleships are vulnerable to small craft, which are often able to either whittle down the battleship, or tackle it long enough for reinforcements to arrive. Battleships are also spendy pieces of equipment to be tossing around in arenas which can often end poorly for the pilot.

Taking a step back in ship sizes, the battlecruiser comes into the limelight. Returning to our basic requirements, most battlecruiser hulls pass by with high marks: good damage, defense, capacity for tackling equipment and modest agility. Everything the PvPer ordered. While several times more expensive to purchase than a cruiser, battlecruisers employ minimal extra equipment for greater effect. The battlecruiser uses medium sized modules, which are modest in skill point requirements, and should be ubiquitous around any pilot’s hanger. The price range of 20 to 30 million isk is an affordable sum for any pilot with the most humble money making operation.

As a combat platform, battlecruisers are able to maul opponents of their size and smaller that are unfortunate enough to be caught. Medium sized weaponry is able to track cruiser sized targets ably, while generous drone bays equate to frigates eating damage they just can’t take. Battlecruisers can be on par of battleships in terms of DPS, which is ideal for the solo pilot: kill the target before backup can be summoned. Large health reserves and a class wide affinity for tanking means the pilot will have time to apply that damage as well.

As much as combat is the goal, dream and aspiration of the solo pilot, retreating is a necessary tactic when odds aren’t favorable. This is where perhaps the true difference and reason to fly battlecruisers over battleships is displayed: battlecruisers are better able to flee than battleships. Since the Quantum Rise updates, battleships have become slower, while battlecruisers gained speed. This raw speed advantage is paired with better acceleration and agility, which with good ship durability means battlecruisers stand a decent chance of returning to a stargate to flee. Battleships in similar situations just aren’t speedy or agile enough to return to a stargate, especially if the enemy employs warp scrambler modules. (Disclaimer: I’m writing about lowsec here. In nullsec, unless it’s a very small and disorganized camp, either ship class will likely be destroyed. In all honesty, a well fit battleship would stand a better chance of escaping, but that’s another story.)

So, we end with the ideal ship class for the solo PvP pilot, the battlecruiser: cheap, effective hulls that get the job done. Does this mean the battlecruiser is the end all armament for pilot victory? Hell no, but it does set the bar for other vessels to be compared to in terms of versatility, effectiveness and efficient use of resources. It’s for these reasons I recommend to pilots that wish to try their hand at solo PvP the battlecruiser, as these ships will not let the pilot down. Rather, it’s the pilot’s skill that is measured.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Flying alone requires a great deal more effort than moving in a fleet. Rather than individuals taking on specific tasks, and delegating responsibility across members of a group, a single player is required to manage all aspects of PvP on their own. The solo pilot is his own scout, tackler, damage and EWAR support. The solo pilot calls all the strategies, manages his vessel and keeps an eye on the scanner often against unfavorable odds. Certainly, a lone pilot will have the advantage of initiative against a larger force, as all orders are given at the speed of thought; however weight of numbers tends to overwhelm that advantage.

So how do lone individuals go about their way, managing victory against the odds time and again? Here are a few pointers on how I attempt to tip the field to my favor:

Keep a positive mindset
EVE is a game. It’s played to have fun, and to enjoy oneself. If enjoying yourself isn’t a theme while logging into the game, you should take a serious look at your current situation and consider making some radical changes.

That aside, while a realist, I tend to hold the positive elements of a situation over the negative ones, and try to promote them when possible. For instance, I refrain from smack talk, will enter fights for the sake of having a good time (rather than keeping the ship), and examine my losses as learning experiences, rather than failures. As with most things in life, it’s best to focus on the good aspects while keeping the bad at an arm’s length.

Additionally, it's important to assess just what is meant by winning. Is winning destroying your foe, and acquiring a shiny killmail? (yes..) Is winning keeping your ship whole? I submit that winning is enjoying yourself, regardless whether you explode first, the target escapes, etc. Keep in mind that the most important entity in EVE is yourself, and by no means do you need be held accountable by another's perception of victory and defeat.

Focus on your goals
Undocking from the station, there should be a number of things running through your mind from the get go. There should be goals for the trip, which could range from amassing spoils to engaging a particular vessel in combat. With one’s goals in mind, accompanying strategies should also be present: how are you going to complete your goal of killing a Hulk? Is your current fit optimal for completing the task? Do you have proper intelligence of the area, and know where and how to catch an elusive exhumer?

Attempt the (im)possible
Flying alone requires a great deal of snap decisions and judgments, chief amongst which is whether a given engagement is feasible or not. How does one know whether a situation is doable? While intel plays a key role, experience is the most reliable and useful tool. Unfortunately for the uninitiated, experience can’t be traded for or taught. It takes going out into the world and trying, and learning the hard way what works and doesn’t work. This does mean taking losses; however by keeping one’s wits about you and an eye for detail, how things work will be accumulated at a fantastic rate. It’ll soon become second nature what’s possible, improbable and downright daunting!

Fly what you can afford to lose
Flying alone magnifies danger, and it’s all too easy to become the target of situations which are all but impossible to avoid destruction. Ships are going to be lost, and depending on experience and aggressiveness, frequently. So fly what you can afford in the first place! If you can’t easily replace a ship, research others that can perform well without support and accomplish the tasks required. T1 hulls in this regard can outperform their T2 counterparts if played to their strengths, and are much more affordable, both in price and insurance payouts.

And now for the more tactical stuff:

Play to your strengths
Though it sounds simple enough, in the fast paced action of EVE PvP, it’s easy to forget the basics. Basics are keeping to your strengths, which to any resourceful capsuleer are many. If piloting a ship with good range or with a powerful drone bay, use range to your advantage. When piloting a ship with an active tank, try to prolong combat and give your repair modules a chance to work. When flying against multiple foes, move in an unpredictable fashion, and don’t allow foes to use their advantages: this could mean moving through systems to force a falcon from its sniper BM, or fighting around stations and gates to require aggressors to fight under sentry fire. Make sure to use ship bonuses, and to consider a different ship if you find you aren’t!

Know the terrain
Understanding the layout of both systems and regions is critically important to success in PvP. Within a system understanding ranges between gates, where belts are in a system, which celestials belts are adjacent to, if stations are present and which are popular make for simplified tactical analysis and scouting. Knowing a region gives insights to where pilots will travel, likely ratting systems, missioning systems, dead ends and the best routes from one system to another. It also means escape routes can be crafted without using the ingame map system, which is clunky and time consuming. Do yourself a favor and google Ombey maps, and print out copies of the regions you frequent. Take notes on the print outs, and try to memorize important facts.

Split your enemy’s gang
There are many ways to do this. The most basic would to be using a speed boost to maneuver away from foes, and string them out as they try to catch up. Once sufficient distance is created, kill off stragglers. Another method is to warp to celestials at varying ranges, usually around 50-100km. Gangs will often warp in at different ranges to cover all possibilities, which present another opportunity to kill off stragglers.

Don’t make it harder than it is
Given the difficulties with flying alone, make sure every effort is spent to make situations ideal where possible. Make sure the cargohold has enough ammunition for a few fights and that the drone bay is indeed full. Plot routes, and have backup plans to escape or divert course if things go south. If you frequent roam paths, set up containers in space or stations with supplies to keep things running smoothly. Safespots and scanning bookmarks are great tools for simplifying finding targets or escaping. Perhaps above all, try to have backup available, as despite everything, some times a target isn’t possible to take alone.

As a parting note, I can’t stress how important it is to have fun. Don’t allow yourself to get angry, and if it happens, examine why. Eliminate the causes of anger, or find ways to at least mitigate their effect. All too often pilots will find themselves in situations where they’re just not enjoying themselves, and don’t particularly understand why they got there, or how to get out. Know that you’re the master of your own destiny, and are free to change your situation at will. You’re more powerful than you may think, so get out there and crush some skulls!