5 Tips for Being Better at PvP

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There are as many ways to describe PvP in Eve as there are people outside the station in Jita. All of which are probably valid in one way or another, to one degree or another. Player versus Player combat in Eve is one of the most complicated, time-intensive, stressful, and potentially rewarding experiences in all of gaming. There is simply nothing else like it. It takes time, learning, and experience to get decent at it. And it takes teachers, failure, failure, and dedication to even approach mastery. No wonder it generates so many colorful ways to describe it.

Essentially PvP combat in Eve comes down to either being prepared or being unprepared for what is about to happen to you. The more you as a participant can swing the scale in your favor the more likely you will be to fly away the victor, and vice versa. Fail to swing anything in your favor and it'll be the Pod-Express home for you.

With this in mind I'd like to offer up five seasoned tips to help you become better at PvP. My goal has always been to see everyone in New Eden become insanely good at combat. This makes the game better for everyone. I want to be challenged. And that will only happen when people learn some valuable lessons.

Yes, there are more than five things you need to do. But I wanted to keep this list manageable and concise. Find a teacher. Become a Wing Man. Join a good Corp like Stay Frosty.  But for these tips I'm going to focus on things you can actively do to enter a fight more prepared than your enemy.

1. Learn to Fit your Ship

Be a student. Always be in learning mode. Study the killboards of famous or infamous pilots. Learn the abilities of the ships you want to fly. Find ways to maximize their bonuses and minimize their weaknesses. Every ship in Eve serves a purpose and the art comes from finding ways to exploit those purposes against your opponent. But never at the expense of common sense. Being prepared does not mean fitting one of everything on your ship! It means not expecting a slow, armor-fitted AB Dessie to defeat a shield-fitted, MWD LML Garmur. 

There are tools available that can help you, tutorials on YouTube, plenty of blogposts, forum posts, and everything else. But nothing replaces doing it yourself and undocking in it. A fit doesn't have to be fancy, or faction, to work. More often than not a smart fit is all you need.

2. Situational Awareness

Learn to see past your d-scanner. Situational awareness is more than what your d-scan shows. It's about what it doesn't show you. How many people are in local, where are they, what are they doing, are they together? How many people are in the systems around me? Are they related to these people? What ships are around and why are those ships in space? What is their purpose?

You get blobbed because the guy you attacked had friends next door. Or you attacked an Incursus sitting in a Large with Cruisers on scan. Or there are two people in local and one is in a Medium plex with a Rifter. (C'mon, that other guy is in a Recon 75% of the time!) Learn how to read the signs. Often I will fly around 5-12 systems just to get the lay of the land, turn around and then head back to see what has changed. You can tell a lot from what moves around. Those Core Scanner Probes from earlier might just be a juicy PvE target when you come back around.

3. Control your own Space

You want the other player at your mercy, or as close as you can get him. Let me use a Blaster Comet as a good example of this in action. Let's say I'm flying around in my Rail fit Daredevil. I can kill any Blaster fitted Comet that I come across in that ship, as long as I maintain control of my own space and make him fight me on my terms. But I will lose my ship if the opposite happens. If I land at zero on that Comet I'm going to lose that fight nine times out of ten. But if I land 10+k away from him, he will lose that fight nine times out of ten to me. This essential premise is true, in one way or another, in every single fight in Eve. When you engage within your own space you will have a much higher chance of winning the fight.

4. Be Bold, Not Stupid

Before a fight we are all geniuses, afterwards only the winner is. Your own scale is going to depend on your own personal preferences, how long you've been playing, how much isk you have, what your personal goals are, etc. But you want to take chances, just not dumb chances. The other night I tackled a Myrmidom in my Hawk because I knew I had two other AFs behind me and we were one jump from home. We couldn't defeat him alone, he was tripled-repped, so we sent one guy home to get a bigger ship. That is being bold and being situationally aware. I wouldn't have tackled the ship had we been 17 jumps away from home.

Had we lost that fight, we'd all be idiots. But the odds were in our favor because we understand and exploited the three rules above. We know not only our ships, but all ships. So I knew what to expect from the target. And he didn't. It is one thing for someone to tell you to take chances, be bold, but another for someone like me to tell you to take smart chances. The more you understand the less bold those chances become. And the less likely you are to come out looking stupid.

5. Don't Be Afraid of Failure

I've lost 1,831 fights in Eve. I've had exactly 8,000 fights that ended in victory or death according to zKill. I've failed 1,831 times. I've horribly failed 139 times and not only lost a ship, but also my Capsule. And while these days I tend to succeed 77% of the time, that wasn't always the case. In the beginning I wasn't even planning on being a PvPer, or at least not a full-time Pirate. 

Have patience with yourself and don't let failure stop you. Each time you don't succeed is another lesson you can learn. And then sometimes you can just do dumb stuff for the sheer fun of it.

Undock, have adventures. I hope to see you in space.