Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hunting the Elusive Good Fight - November Solo PVP in Review

My PVP goal for the month of November was to lose 50 ships in solo PVP...

Kills: 202
Deaths: 23
Good Fights: Not Enough
Bad Deaths: Too Many
New Players Given Their First Kills (at my expense): 2

Losing ships in solo PVP is not what "elite" PVPers typically do, PVPers who rack up thousands of kills with few losses. But for me, aiming to lose 50 ships meant being out in space, taking risks I normally might not take, and in general having fun dying gloriously. So that was my goal for November, a serious solo binge. 

I only managed to lose 23 ships this month, though. It turns out that making, say, 15b isk in a month relatively afk is a lot easier than finding enough fights to lose 50 ships in 4 weeks. Here's what happened. (Disclaimer: The following is mostly written for myself as I've reflected on trying to get more solo pvp.)

My month of PVP starts out in a fun, if strange way, flying a 150m isk logi Bantam in one of the themed public roams on the twitch stream run by SirSqueebles. There's probably a better way to learn how to fly logi, I suppose, then by jumping in a logi frigate worth close to 200m, but I somehow manage to get on a few kills, not die, and keep a few people alive (briefly). If you haven't checked out SirSqueebles, he is one of the most entertaining EVE streamers and often runs public fleets that even terrible players like myself can contribute to.

The first set of solo fights comes around my new brief home in Curse near O-SHT, flying primarily dual MASB probes--one of my favorite ships. The first kill is a faction fit Taranis while being chased on grid by what has to be the largest gang to ever chase a solo probe.
The mighty battle probe inspires fear, rallying the denizens of depths of null against her
I go on to kill another Taranis followed closely by two Condors in the probe before jumping back to low.

For my first loss of the month, I explode a MSE Rocket Corax in a close fight against a Comet. The added DPS from the friend plus the rat at the end didn't help, but in general the only Corax fit I've come to like is the dual MASB Rocket fit I've flown with some success, such as, shortly after, netting me an Algos kill.

The second loss comes in the form of a Thorax which had more than earned its keep, killing two assault frigates in October and dying gracefully to a gang in November. I don't particularly like this Thorax fit, so I was, in a way, happy to lose it after some decent kills including a near 60m Comet followed by a Hawk in the gang I eventually die to. Many solo PVPers in EVE almost exclusively roam in kiting ships--roaming solo in a passive tank brawling ship like that Thorax is essentially a death wish, hoping for a kill or two in the process of dying. When I undock in a brawling ship, I am essentially undocking expecting to die soon or later, merely hoping to take at least something with me in the process.

After this, I destroy some POS mods as part of my POS destruction project, this time not getting many good drops unfortunately. Then, I get some minor kills, mainly in the form of some newer players, whom I try to talk to to explain what happened and send them some isk. I have a long chat with this guy for instance, sending him isk and adding him as a contact. Like many people, dying to a helpful pirate is how I first learned about PVP. I am happy to return the favor, in a sense. I head over the the home of Aideron Robotics in Filet, a group that often gives me good fights in very late USTZ (thanks mates!). Flying the same dual MASB Corax, I kill a Comet and then, in an insanely close fight, a Coercer.

The next day, I earn my third loss, finally exploding the hero probe in a 2v1. I manage to kill one of the interceptors in the process, and, had my manual piloting and selective shield boosting been better, would have likely gotten the second as well. What is atypical about that probe fit is that I now use T2 resist rigs, given how cheap they are.

In the following days, I kill some faction war players in high sec, including some clueless miners (yes, people mine in HS while in FW, and sometimes in exhumers). I get a great, close win against an EVE Uni Enyo in Placid, while flying a shield Algos. EVE Uni is another group that often gives me great fights even at very late USTZ hours in Placid--thanks guys! They do have some highly competent PVP pilots, so their fights are certainly not easy wins (nor are they usually 1v1, but that's part of the fun). I derp a shuttle and null sec pod to a station camper to end the night off...strong.

Back in null, I kill a hauling Ares (huh?) and then a Crusader with another probe, but die to a massive Harpy camp in the process. Jumping over to low sec, I kill a Wolf in that same dual MASB Corax, then a Comet who is part of a gang before finally dying to that gang. That Corax had a great run, and I vow to fly more MASB fit versions in her memory...
I will never forget you, O' Corax--the only Corax that ever seemed worth flying

Fast forward a bit, I kill a Caracel in my first time ever flying a Firetail, but then lose the Firetail to another, better Firetail. In generally, the Arty-tail will kill most other Firetail fits, as it is close to a hard counter--but a fun fight nonetheless! Later, though, I have a great set of fights with E-UNI, killing an Enyo, then Slicer, then Breacher in my shield fit Algos. Passing through high sec, I find a bunch of faction war targets to pick off, including a rather strange Myrmidon in the process.

On Monday late USTZ the 10th, I joined a new player in Uedama bent on stopping CODE. from ganking innocent players. I liked this new bro's attitude, so I joined up with him. We got on some kills but did not manage to save any freighters, alas.

Back in low sec, I kill a merlin in an experimental neuting Algos fit I am trying out, and then kill a Cormorant, but make a bad choice to engage a gang and die without scoring a kill. My month begins to turn down hill from here, in a discouraging way. I lose a probe to a Slicer in null, largely because I started the fight with no shields and some armor damage. I then hop into a Slicer myself, and after struggling to find a fight I have to go afk for less than a minute, only to return dead to a random Pilgrim. Then, as a sign of how bad I am at EVE, I lose an Algos to a kiting Tristan. This was completely unnecessary: not only did I have many chances to casually warp out, I also did not even start to kill the Tristan's drone's until late in the fight, when I soon after burned out my armor rep. Mistakes abounded and, props to the Tristan, he stayed around with low HP until the end. Afterward, I find a newer player in a Myrm in an asteroid belt--a great opportunity for building up my morale! But, no, I am in a Coercer and I get the Myrm into low structure,  but die to Gardes getting some good crits. I gave that player their first kill in EVE! Little do they know, I'm an easy target!

My bad luck gets a bit better a few days later. I kill an Algos in a PVP Navitas fit in my efforts to PVP in every ship in EVE, and then get a Cerberus kill in a Navy Vexor. I chased this player away from a DED site, stayed around for a bit, and then found the player coming back in a Cerberus. Great for me, since Geckos are OP. (Incidentally, this site was a Serptenis Minor Annex. I spent the next hour trying to complete it, only to finally kill the last trigger and get literally nothing. So the joke is on me, I guess, as this is one of the worst combat sites in LS.)

The next day I reach a goal I've long had in EVE: I join Brave newbies. I am hoping to get some fun fights in Null, and some experience in larger fleets. I am also living in Curse briefly, so joining Brave in Catch is convenient. Maybe I will even get to help some newer players?

I am so bad at EVE, though, that I manage to get kicked from BNI in less than a day. But not before I fly in two fleets. First, I fly in a quite useless STRATOP NOSPAIS fleet against PL in their "invasion" of Catch.
Here's PL in their Navy Apoc fleet, out farming BNI in Moas
I am largely clueless as to how a normal human being can willingly participate in such fights. Large fleet fights in null have about as much "fun content" as sitting in a cubicle pressing a single button for hours on end, interspersed with bouts of yelling from the FC--which is why many players in null fleets play other games at the same time, especially when waiting for fights. Next, I get on dozens of kills in an interceptor roam in BNI, a common fleet called "FAF" roams. They often just involve roaming a pipe in friendly space looking for the single non-blue player in the system out of 40 or 50 blues. Given that there are bubbles and camps on all the main gates (in BNI's case, bubbles and camps from, HED- toward GE-), these fleets are often little more than shooting already dying fish in a barrel. As a solo player, I legitimately felt bad every time we killed a solo player roaming null in our elite interceptor fleet. However, as a regular F1-presser I can say I was masterful in doing my standard 5% damage to the helpless target...
Zoom zoom, pew pew! You can't win the isk war, after all, unless everyone is on every single kill, so hold the pod so all 35 interceptors can add it to the killboard!!

It was merciful, in a way, to get kicked from BNI--for reasons unknown, perhaps because I once spent a day in Marmite, or because I accidentally killed a friendly neutral (because, it turns out, even when you join BNI you are literally blue or friendly neutral to half of null). BNI is all about fun-per-hour but they do take potential spies very seriously. As a largely solo PVPer, I am of the opinion that sov null sec space is even more flawed than high security space. It adds less content than high sec, in addition to being far safer the deeper you go. The PVP there is often incredibly boring, and soloing in sov null can often feel like nothing besides "ceptor-popping." Null sec creates "news worthy" content but struggles to create stable content, which is why, I suspect, CCP is in the process of changing just about every single part of it.

Days later, I find time to do some solo PVP again. I kill a Firetail in a Breacher and have a nice long chat with the player after. Later, though, I lose a Comet to a problem I've been having lately: Server disconnects. I've never had connection issues in EVE until recently, when I started getting socket losses, and I've lost a number of ships to this as a result. There's little else more discouraging than dying repeatedly due to server problems--and EVE has had its fair share of server problems lately, mainly in the form of DDOS attack, though I'm not sure what's the cause of mine lately.

The main discouragement lately, though, comes with the difficulty finding decent fights. The next day I lose a Vexor while thinking I was helping a blue FW gang (good lesson: one always has to be careful entering a fight as a third party even when one side is apparently friendly etc.). I'm not trying hard at EVE at this point, in the sense that I am burnt out, not the least because every time I roam looking for solo fights, I spent the majority of time in empty system after empty system, including areas that are typically the PVP hot spots in LS. And when you've spent an hour or more in EVE looking for a fight and finding nothing, you are primed to take stupid risks.

I get a bizarre kill days later, from a retriever who attacks me after poking his MTU. He comes back in a Vexor. Tech I drones are out, so I am thinking this might be a feasible fight. Unfortunately for me, this player planned well (and me, not so much): I kill over a dozen tech I light drones, but they keep coming, and meanwhile I am scrammed and webbed, and as a result, die. This is another case where I give a player their first kill in EVE. That's just my way of giving back to the community, I suppose!

Days go by again, and I am flying in a public and primarily new player roam with SirSqueebles. It is going well, and we get some new players their first kills, but I get a connection hiccup and die, fortunately coming back in time to save my pod.

When things in EVE get stale, take a break for a while--days, weeks, or months--then try something new. I am constantly trying to PVP in new places, new ships, and new ways. I finally finish interceptors V (joining the band wagon about a year late...) so I am working through a stack of all the interceptors with common (and some not so common) fittings for solo PVP. Flying a crusader in Catch, I fight a Taranis and then a Condor,  and kill a few newer players out roaming in LS and NS. Talking to them, they joined EVE after seeing the new trailer, and wanted to give life outside of high security space a try. I often send new players links to recruitment ads from fitting groups, so hopefully some end up joining groups like BNI or RVB.

Back roaming, I kill a cloaky Sabre in a Hookbill, another ship I have little experience in but am working on flying. I made mistakes in this fight, which is unfortunate since I had complete range control in every way, but get lucky on the kill anyway. I swap the Hookbill for a Rifter, one of the few I have left to lose, and roam deep null. What you find in deep null is invariably afktars (especially since I was in CFC space) and ratting carriers. Unfortunately, local chat exists, giving locals in null a complete advantage in safety so long as they pay attention. As a general rule, the deeper you go into deep null, the worse the ship fittings get. I kill a bad Malediction in my Rifter before dying to a Sabre on my way out.

With the influx of newer players, the ability to join faction war on trial accounts, and the current status of T4 for the Amarr, most of the Min-Amarr war zone is fairly active. Getting a WH to this space, I roam the area in a LML Breacher, a ship well beyond its glory. There was a time in EVE when LML kiting frigates--Condors, Kestrals, Breachers, Hookbills, etc--were one of the stable metas in FW LS, due largely to the tendency for brawling frigates to fit afterburners. In fact, this meta even made its way into RVB. During my early years in 2011-2012, I flew mainly kiting Condors and Kestrals. While they are still around, the slight nerf to LML damage only solidified the end to the relative dominance of this meta. In fact, though, this meta was ending far sooner, partly because of the power creep in anti-kiting frigates, and partly because of a general shift away from pure AB brawlers in faction war. Roaming in a LML Breacher, it was like I traveled back in time, killing a string of AB fit, cheap ships, from an Incursus to a Coraxa Slasher, then Rifter, ending the night with a farming stealth bomber kill. What is this, 2012?

To close out the month, I join another public fleet run by SirSqueebles, composed of about 1/3 new players (including one play who had only just finished the tutorial!). It is a great armor frigate roam, racking up 30 kills or so including a Rupture gang and some expensive HACs, before we finally whelp into a large camp, making for my 22 loss of the month.

I get some fights after that, but nothing exciting. My 23rd and final loss of the month finishes it off it an ironic way. Solo for long enough, and you will inevitable die to a gate camp. My first time ever undocking in a worm, and I meet a nasty T3+Recon+HIC camp. It's just a reminder that the hardest part of solo PVP, is finding the solo PVP. 

The month ended on some positive notes, so as I continue to solo PVP and hunt for those elusive good fights, I can only hope that things are getting better.

1 comment:

  1. Shame you don't even know why you were kicked from BNI, I was curious as to the reason behind that.
    Friendly neutral = oxymoron.

    How many hours did spend undocked in space to get those 200+ kills and deaths?