The regions beyond highsec are a wasteland of cutthroats and vagabonds who want nothing more than to take your hard-earned ratting money and turn it into molten bits and pieces of floating garbage. If you venture out of the “safety” of highsec, fleets of unquantifiable size and skill will devour you and your friends like so many bite-sized treats. Should you make the stupendous error of stepping one toe into the areas known as lowsec and nullsec, your body will be consumed in a hail of lasers, projectiles, missiles and antimatter and all your space cash are belong to us. You will leave our region of the galaxy and the game itself crying bitter tears, while we chortle and plot another group’s imminent destruction.
Still reading? Good. Then you’re ready for this region of space no matter how much SP you do or do not have. You should also know that this is a narrative woven for over a decade of EVE’s history and, like all narratives, is an exaggeration (no matter how slight). PvP isn’t just worth the risk associated, it is the very foundation of EVE and what makes it hum along so vibrantly. Some people think of EVE as a name referring to the biblical first woman who convinced Adam to bite into a forbidden fruit, condemning the rest of mankind to endless struggles and turmoil for eternity. Although this is definitely a suitable metaphor for the game, I prefer to think of it as a simple acronym: Everyone Vs. Everyone, and there is no EvE without PvP.
Contrary to popular belief and my intro, low and nullsec dwellers, for the most part, are not obsessed with killing everything in sight but are instead interested in the ever-elusive “good fight.” For some, this means the perfect gank after hours of hunting and scanning, but for most it’s a pretty straightforward battle involving forces that equal or outnumber your own, which usually rules out the few highsec dwellers who enter their territory. This is how we learn, how we test our capabilities and how we stroke our egos. It’s also an important first step towards developing the mentality needed to succeed in a PvP environment.
Those first baby steps into this cold world are the most important, the most-often overlooked and the ones that always end with a stumble. If highsec is a tranquil lake, then lowsec is a choppy ocean. You can’t do anything to change the nature of it, but you can steel your mind to the oncoming waves.
The first and most critical part of this mindset is to never be afraid of losing ships. See each loss as a unique opportunity to learn something, and talk to the players who kill you. I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how receptive and helpful they are. To quote a player who had just had an expensive ship blown out from under him: “It’s ok. I undocked it. It was already gone.” So, fly something you can afford to lose and commit its metal soul to the underworld the moment you undock.
Never pick a fight that you are certain to lose. This one would seem obvious, but based on Brave’s experience in nullsec (although their circumstances sometimes forced them to fight) it clearly needs some repetition. Taking fights that you know to be unwinnable teaches nothing and chips away at the ISK you have hopefully been accumulating in highsec. That said, do not be afraid to take a massively long shot in an attempt to learn. Simply avoid situations where your percentage of survival is clearly going to be 0%.
Quick decision-making is the essence of any PvP fight. Even if you are not sure of yourself, make a snap judgment and follow through with all the strength you can muster. An FC’s decisiveness can make up for a litany of smaller mistakes and carry his fleet to victory. The same holds true for small-gang FCs and solo artists. Know the ship(s) you are flying and those you are flying against. I once had a much more experienced player tell me “PvP is 20% skill points, 10% fitting skills, 60% choosing the correct engagement and 10% luck.” Fortunately, online resources like wiki.eveuniversity.org have every ship’s stats mapped out in detail, complete with potential fittings. Study them, and you’ll at least be armed with some knowledge of what you are facing in the field.
Fly an overpowered ship. If you hear that a ship is reaping tears like no other and it’s well within your purchasing power, hop in it. There’s no shame in learning to pew in a ship that autocorrects some of your mistakes by its very nature. Of course, using it as a crutch for too long will limit your learning experience and hamper you when it comes time to branch out. Even the most overpowered ship (looking at you Worm and Garmur) has its weaknesses, and someone more experienced will eventually expose them. Also, the Worm and Garmur are examples of overpowered ships that new PvPers should never fly due to price.
With this mentality firmly implanted, anyone can make a start in the world of PvP. Being successful is a completely different matter. That will take time, SP and plenty of advice from older players in (insert newbie-friendly corp here). However, given enough of those elements, I believe any player can also carve out a space of their own in these dangerous but lucrative regions.