Saturday, March 21, 2015

Practicing Flying Skills for Solo and Small Gang PVP

One of the things that keeps me playing EVE is the vast upward potential for improvement on player skill (not the ones you inject and train over time). When it comes to solo and small gang PVP skills—things like manual piloting, knowledge of engagement profiles, fighting against larger gangs, and so on—the upward range of skills is potentially limitless. Watching pilots like Chessur in some of his recent PVP videos like his Slicer video and his anti-support small gang confessor video demonstrate what months and years of experience can provide. Manual piloting, for instance, is one of the most difficult things to do well in EVE, and there is so much room for human error that even the best still have things to learn and practice.

So, I am always looking for new ways to practice skills, if only because I am still terrible at this game somehow. One thing I have been doing lately is trying to solo PVP and “3rd party” amidst large fleet fights. I look at Dotlan's list of “most violent systems” in the past 3 hours and often use Thera to find a wormhole close. Basically, I try to survive in the system as long as I can, PVPing if and when I can. Over the past week, the hot spot in EVE has been GE-8JV. If you've seen GE- over the past week--in person or streaming on twitch for instance--you will know it is like a giant obstacle course, with PL. and HERO. fighting and dozens of other groups playing "3rd party" games. The station itself, with its near hundred bubbles, reminds me of a massive siege of a medieval castle

So, amidst the chaos in the system I've been trying to opportunistically PVP, but also just survive, evade, make dozens of bookmarks, bounce around grids, escape tackle, manually fly, and it has been a hell of a lot of fun. My ship of choice has been a Crusader--my own personal fitting that is really not optimal at all. It kites out to 17km, goes 4.4km, but has a decent enough tank with an AAR and decent enough DPS with Multifreq to pull out victories against other interceptors or T1 frigates if it should come to a brawl. It is sort of like a bad Slicer, but for me it is just for practicing skills, not for elite solo PVP. Amazingly, though, I've amassed 45 kills in this Crusader and no deaths so far, mostly in GE-. This included some good 1v1 solo fights in a system with 1k+ other players fighting, not to mention quite a few nice fights that ended in a draw. At one point I ran out of nanite paste and was scrambling to find some in wrecks while not dying--it was more fun at times to just fly around on grid at the station or gates and try to survive than it was to PVP.

The grid itself was nuts:

All of the bubbles around the station had the effect of being like a giant net that would catch players warping it at all different spots around the station. Over the course of the past few days I made dozens of bookmarks around the grid. For a while I was trying to do hit and runs while manually piloting or pick off pods that were landing awkwardly in the bubbles--all the while trying to avoid being caught by other interceptors, T3 destroyers, and being combat scanned every few minutes on grid, keeping a close eye on the ships and ranges on the overview. There is so much going on in large fights and so many variables to keep track of, including not only the ships near you or closing in, but also which ships are likely to be faster than you, which players are combat scanning you, and who can snipe you from range, such as the caracals that will start melting you at RLML ranges under60-70km, to the many cormorants who will start hurting you at 100km away, and the very long range snipers like nagas on station who can hit out to 250km but only effectively if you have low transversal, and so on. I feel like a newbro again, learning huge amounts and wide-eyed and amazed I didn't die at most points.

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