Eve Online; one of the more interesting, addictive and controversial games I’ve had the joy of playing. Filled with both boring and fun activities, PvE and PvP content available for all. Today we will be focusing on the PvP side of things, specifically on Solo PvP. I see plenty of Capsuleers asking many questions on how to make them a better and more effective pilot, and there are many tutorials, guides and a great community to help those looking for answers. So, this I suppose is an addition to that collection, specifically this will be a guide on Solo PvP.
To start off, I’m no expert, which means taking what I say with a pinch of Capsuleer salt. I’ve been playing for around a year and a half in total and probably started solo PvP stuff somewhat later on in Nullsec. I think it would be fitting to pass on what I know to those itching to get started with this fun affair. Here’s some things I think you need to know before starting off as another solo combatant of Eve life.
You Will Die
This will happen. 100%. Without question. But sometimes it won’t always be a bad thing. The Eve community is a weird but wonderful social group, full of newcomers and old boomers. If you lose a fight, ask your competitor what you could have done better. Some will help you out, others will tell you to simply “git gud”. It’s the luck of the draw I suppose. But, just know that death is inevitable and won’t save you forever. The better you get and the more knowledgeable you become, the longer you can prolong being podded. This brings me on to my next point…
Pretty self-explanatory really, but if you don’t have the Isk to replace your beloved ship, then think of it as a one-time gem. Until of course you make the money back to purchase another one to whelp. I’d suggest picking something you can comfortably fly and lose around 10 times, maybe even more within a month. Even if that means buying a hundred cheap T1 Frigates and just getting used to them before moving up to the next class. The point is if you can replace it, don’t undock it, and certainly don’t cry about it when you lose it.
There are two main features that are going to drastically improve your capabilities to getting good at solo PvP; Money, and Skills. Whether your way of money-making is from PvE Ratting, trading, abyssal, escalations, exploration, or simply just buying and selling Plex with cold hard cash, Isk is your one stop trip to new ships and modules. In a way you can save some Isk by looting your enemies’ wrecks for their dropped modules, and using them next time you re-ship. This can become profitable in the late game but it depends how they have fitted it, and if the RnGesus is around, as loot from wrecks drops randomly. I wouldn’t say that solo PvP is good enough as a money maker in itself however, which is why I’d recommend either using an alt or doing something Isk generator related when Time Zones get quiet.
Ships and modules are totally relied on having the proper skills to fly them. All ships have specific bonuses which ramp up depending on the level of a specific skill. A Rifter has a 5% bonus to damage for each Minmatar Frigate skill level you have. Meaning once this is at level 5 your Rifter can punch out 25% additional bonus damage. This is extremely important to have in my mind, and in many cases, I’ve noticed the noticeable difference in having skills set to 3 instead of 5. A skill jump to 5 can take the longest time to train in some cases, some up to 30 or more days of training, so sometimes a little patience is required. Either that or you use your lovely mountain of Isk to buy Skill Injectors to speed up the training progress. In terms of skills, there is a skill plan known as the Magic 14; a collection of must have skills which will improve your quality of combat no matter what ship you fly.
They can be found here: https://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Magic_14
Ship Fitting and Capabilities
This is where experience will come into play. Like most things in life, the more you play and learn about your ship and what it can do, the more understanding you become. Knowing what a ships bonuses are and what weapons and modules work with them are crucial to PvP, and therefore should also suit your play style. Learning about a weapon system capability is also crucial to how you perform in combat. Knowing that Artillery guns won’t track very well when an enemy has you in a tight orbit, or that Blasters don’t have the best range and are suited for being up in someone’s hull, comes all too well with play time and experience. Many ship fits can be found online on a site called Zkillboard; a site which collates every kill and death that happens in game. You can search for your particular ship, click solo and see how people set there’s up. From there you can even import their fits into your game, provided you have an API for your account. From there and with time you can tweak modules to suit your play style. For what I do, I like to dual prop a lot of my ships, so I have the versatility of being able to obtain good speed under long range weapons or being able to disengage from close range brawlers.
I generally have a rule of 3 when it comes to a ship’s capabilities. All ships within their category will essentially have 3 stats in common; Speed, Tank and DPS. From what I’ve seen most ships have 2 of these that perform well and 1 that doesn’t as much. The Garmur is an example of this; it has superior speed and great DPS with missiles and rockets, but doesn’t necessarily have fantastic tank, therefore will rely on its DPS to out gun its target, whilst using its speed to evade and mitigate incoming DPS and if needed disengage from the fight. Other ships have 1 of these stats that is superior whilst the other 2 are appalling; the Tornado is an Attack Battlecruiser which is designed to literally blast anything out of space with huge Artillery Cannons or ballsy large auto-cannons, but has hardly any Tank and Speed. All ships will have additional stats and bonuses but keeping this in mind might help you out in the long run.
Top Tip! Someone will always call your ship shit, and others will say it’s okay, it’s down to you how it works for you, and up to you whether you take someone’s salt to heart or accept their knowledge.
The 3 Play-styles
There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes. But in Eve they generally come under 3 playstyles:
Brawling: Brawling is an aggressive take on combat; getting right up close and personal with the enemy to either get under a target’s weapons, bait them into tanking you, or using close range weapons to take them down as quickly as possible. In either case, most brawlers will be under say 5km from a target, and can be more favourable in much larger ships looking to taking a beating against groups of enemies rather than just one on one.
Kiting: I hate Kiting, mainly because when performed well it can be exceptionally effective. Kiting is where you engage your target as far out as possible, to the very edge of your weapons maximum range as possible. As a general rule, weapons that hit far won’t do as much damage as their brawling counterpart, but enough damage dealt to someone chasing you will see them pop. The trouble with kiting as well is keeping a target within disruptor range, or trying to keep your traversal as low as possible so you can still apply damage to your target. Most experienced pilots will manually fly instead of using the generic orbit or keep at range features, and will focus more on Speed and DPS to prevent being caught by webs or scrams.
Scram-Kiting: This technique is the cross over between kiting and brawling; the middleman if you will. A great counter to most kiting ships and some brawling ships. The art of scram kiting is keeping at your maximum scrambler range, in most cases if using T2 Scram this is around 8-9km, 9-10km if you are overheating. This technique is good if you need to lock down and use a good orbit on a kiting ship, or a longer-range orbit on a high DPS brawler such as blaster ships. I found personally that missiles or high tracking weapons are best to use with this technique. Be warned, using a scram only shuts down Microwarpdrive propulsion modules, not Afterburner props. This means anyone fitted with a Scram or Web themselves will have the chance to slow you down, so if you have an Afterburner fitted yourself, best start thinking about overheating. If not, prey you have good enough DPS and Tank.
These styles have been around in the game for as long as I know. Depending on how a ship is fitted will determine what the best play style will be for that fit. I prefer to fit brawling and scram-kiting ships a lot, so the same should be for you; choosing a play style you enjoy and fitting ships around that, or of course vice versa.
Pick Your Fights
So, you have your ship, you’ve fitted it out to be a nice hard scram-kiting ship. You’ve been on Zkillboard and checked out what fits are best for you. You’ve fitted your ship accordingly and are ready to fight the good fight. It’s all well and good understanding your ship, but what about your targets? What ship are they flying? What weapons are they using? Is it known to be a kiting ship or a brawling ship? Can you take on this particular cruiser even if you’re in a frigate? Like a lot of the points I make, time and experience will be the answer to the majority, but this is where learning from mistakes, understanding your ship and losing some fights will give you the best knowledge. There’s been many situations, too many to count, where I don’t know how I’m going to preform against a ship I’m unfamiliar with. You either win or you lose, but at least you know what you can or can’t win against it.
Join a Corporation…or don’t
Silly right? You want to go solo PvP but you have to join a corp, play and live with other people? Well, not exactly. You can do what you want, but you will have a hard time flying, living and earning your Isk all by yourself for the most part, especially if you want to live somewhere like a wormhole. If that’s the case you will want to buy or build your own fort or building to stage out of, plus the trouble of getting it to where you want to go. That being said I know a fair few guys who base themselves in NPC stations, and are able to buy and get all that they need shipped there, by means of a freighter alt account or one of the many services provided by the community. I’m not saying living alone isn’t doable then, I’m just suggesting there is a lot to think about.
I’m not going to lie to you though, sometimes living with big corporations has its highs and lows too. When I first started playing, I joined Pandemic Horde; a sort of newbie alliance dedicated to picking up new folk and adding them to their army when the time comes. It’s filled with new players and veterans alike, which overall makes a pretty decent community. It’s a pretty self-sufficient life; PH has its own market to buy what you’re looking for, protected pockets to do PvE or mining, and even have an intel-channel in which players can report neutral or enemies entering a system. These features are across all large corporations, so you could just join any of the other large corps, like Goonswarm, Brave, Test Alliance, ect. So why is this a problem?
Big corps and alliances are there to fight for territory and bragging rights across huge null-sec regions. Solo PvP, albeit great for clearing space from enemies, isn’t really supported by them. I use the intel channel within my Corp as a bounty board; I know what I’m looking for and where, but so are many others within the Corp. Being PH of course, any target entering Horde space may find themselves against as much as 1 to 50 plus players stacking onto them, depending on their ship of course. It somewhat is annoying to someone like me because not only am I trying to solo but I also carry around the stigma of “he’s got about 50 more friends one system over; I better not engage”. This also annoys my Corp mates sometimes when I do get a solo kill, as they were hoping to ‘whore’ on a target first before they die. The other issue of course is that it can feel too safe. I sometimes feel that I get the content too easily, with the hassle-free market and the intel of targets 20 systems away from me.
That being said. There are hundreds of corporations and alliances that do support solo and small gang PvP, who will be able to provide you a safe haven and the tools you need to be able to hunt successfully. They too live in either null-sec, low-sec or Wormholes. Most of these guys that I’ve met or had the pleasure of fighting can be a lot more experienced than those in the larger alliances. So, if you were thinking about joining a corporation with the interest of Solo or Small gang PvP, go for the smaller more experienced corps.
Heat, Paste, and Light Travel
One thing that you don’t want to do, that you will probably will do as many of us have done before, is burn out modules. It doesn’t matter what module it is, from your T2 Scram to your Web, Afterburners, MWD’s or tracking computers, watch your god damn heat. Overheating modules is all well and good, especially on your weapons to get the maximum amount of DPS out of them. Overheating other modules generally extends their effective range, such as the Webifier’s and tackle modules, whilst others reduces cycle times like being able to use active repair modules more quickly each cycle.
Although overheating has its benefits, the downside is that too much heat will burn your modules out, and see you go from winning an engagement to having a bad time. Some modules are damaged from overheating more than others, most noticeable of them all are your propulsion modules. Overheating your ‘go faster’ modules will usually last around 3-4 cycles before burning out completely, so be wary of that. Carrying Nanite Paste is always something to consider when roaming solo as these can repair your modules whilst you roam, and most armour repping ships you kill will effectively be carrying paste too.
Another factor to take into account is where your modules are fitted. Heat damage dissipates across to other modules depending where they are, so if you are overheating your prop module but either side of it is your webifier and scrambler modules, you will find that they will also sustain heat damage even though they haven’t been used. I’d recommend watching Minchurra’s video on YouTube for a more detailed explanation. Travelling light is just a suggestion; for when you win a fight, you’ll want to loot your opponent’s wreck, and with the new feature you can dump that loot in any station or citadel, even if it’s an enemy one, as it will just end up in Asset Safety.
Knowledge is Power
I know I’ve banged on about how you can learn from your mistakes, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to ask the community for tips and tricks. Like I’ve said before there are hundreds of solo players out in Eve who are willing to share their knowledge and experience, some may not, but most will. Alongside this you also have a ton of videos sprawling across YouTube, as well as many guides that can be searched easily; google is your friend. There are other useful tools out there to assist you, so ask around for the best ones out there.
I’ve pretty much tapped out all I can think of but by all means feel free to message me via twitter, or even in game; Benzo Skinzerai is my in-game name. Links below are for numerous and popular solo players who give out great advice as well as great fights.
Fly dangerously, o7.
https://zkillboard.com – Zkillboard for Fittings
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCgm3No5H82LiZhNTyAFyGpg – Friendly Targets
https://m.youtube.com/user/eveiseasy – Suitonia
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC87RMclSng5w5yPfQ_xhIUQ – Stitch Kaneland
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCC0EQ2Ha-6-Y4DRXLOrvsCA – Cosmo Blink
https://m.youtube.com/user/KnightSmiley96 – Blights Wretch
https://m.youtube.com/user/ashnazgVI – Ashnazg
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UC7Z3X_4C6VoT_7im9tpE1qw – Zarvox Toral
https://m.youtube.com/user/airforcelol – Rhiload
https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCkrd7iCt4Kw7DaO37_3xnNQ – Lokley Theo