Many players enjoy running missions or being an industrialist in EVE Online. Still, some players wonder how the other half lives, and long to shed their soft and fuzzy demeanors for something a little more dangerous. In EVE Online, a person that shuns competitive behavior and PvP action is referred to as a 'carebear' to reflect their harmlessness. If you are a carebear but long to be something else, read on.
Author's Note: Being a carebear is not necessarily pejorative, nor a bad thing. Many players choose that path. This guide is intended to help those that are relegated to being a carebear by a sense of helplessness, rather than deliberate choice.
#10: Admit That You Are A Carebear
You may be powerless against professional PvPers right now, but the road to recovery is not as long as you think. Do months go by with you actively playing EVE but not seeing your name on the delivering side of a killmail? Do you have a faction fit battleship but no PvP ships more expensive than a tech one cruiser? If so, then it is best to face the facts: you are a carebear.
Trade in your mining barge for a PvP battlecruiser or cruiser, and take a walk on the wild side.
Still, being a carebear is more about a mindset than about your specifics. Once you crave conflict and hunger for PvP, or even want to give it the old college try, you have already taken the biggest step on the road to recovery.
#9: Start Cooperating With Other Players
I think it is fair to say than many if not most non-PvPers play EVE Online by themselves. Missions are run in NPC corporations, mining is done solo. Maybe you have a friend or ten, but if you do not actually do anything in tandem with them, they might as well not be there, as far as EVE Online is concerned. If you actually do things with them, like run high-level missions, venture into wormhole space, or camp gates, that's a whole other ball game. Once you get in the swing of working together as a group with others, it's pretty easy to repurpose that group to getting your toes wet in PvP.
For nearly self-evident reasons, cooperating with other players is good even if you eventually decide that PvP is not for you. You will make more ISK if you pool collective labor and reduce shared overhead, and more importantly, you will have more fun overall if you participate in things with other players. The challenge usually lies in finding players that match your particular interests or maturity level. This is hardly an impossible challenge, given how many active corporations there are in the world of EVE, but it can still take a little while to find the one that fits you perfectly. Don't give up on finding a good corporation or settle for good enough, that's what a carebear would do.
#8: Train PvP Skills
Your seven million skillpoints in mining and industry? Those are dead skillpoints as far as this guide is concerned. Getting more lab slots or a better refine on scordite isn't going to do crap when you are being orbited by a ring of assault frigates. You need real skills. Skills that let you use microwarpdrives and warp disruptors. You need as much CPU and power grid as you can squeeze out of your ships with skills. You need to be able to fly combat ships and get the full benefit of that ship-type's bonuses.
Moreover, training skills willy-nilly is not enough. There are a number of generally applicable skills that help you (high speed maneuvering, advanced weapon upgrades), but specialization is the way to make your newly PvP-oriented skills do more for you, faster. Pick a ship hull or ship type that will have general applicability, and does not cost too much. Perhaps a Harbinger or one of the various stealth bombers. Train the ship skill for that, then start training up the skills that matter most to that ship class. To continue our examples, fitting, laser, and armor resistance skills would be the natural starting point for the harbinger once you have battlecruisers trained up to IV, or missile and navigation skills for any of the stealth bombers.
The more you specialize, the more you put yourself on a level playing field with people that have been PvPing for a long time, especially people that flit from one thing to another without really building up their supporting skills or maxing out skills. Having tech two weapons and a tech two tank really makes a big difference, too. The jump from tech one guns or missiles of any time, to their tech two equivalents, is well worth the lengthy training times, and will eventually be necessary if you intend to be a competitive PvPer.
Let me add a word about maxing out skills: an extra 2% damage (or whatever) will not make much of a difference by itself. But having six skills all at five rather than four will give you enough aggregate bonuses that they actually can make a difference, especially if you are in a ship that has really good fittings, and are on a level tactical playing field.
More than any of the above, though, I will emphasize that the only PvP module that new players need to be able to use is the warp disruptor. If you can warp disrupt, you are an asset to any fleet that will have you. Don't go thinking that you need everything trained to level V before you can even get started. But do start planning to spend your skillpoints on things that will do an extra 2% damage, rather than skills that would just increase your mining yield by that amount.
#7: Fit A Combat Ship
Better yet, fit a few of them. Learning to PvP will involve you getting your ship blown up. It will. You cannot climb the mountaintop without sliding back down a few time. Once you have some fundamental skills out of the way and can at least passably fly your ship class of choice, it is probably best to fit out a few of them, finances permitting. When you die (not if) you will not want to waste time fitting out another, whether because there is a prolonged fight occurring that you still might make a difference in, or ennui over your ship loss. It is best if you have them set up with fittings and ready to roll, so you can just insure them and undock.
Depending on how flexible your ship is, you may want to have a spare hull fit with an alternative fitting. If your ship can either gank or tank, have one of each so that you can react to changing situations in a hurry.
Ideally, you should purchase your ships at a market hub (like Jita) for a cheap price, then move them to whatever area your friends are basing out of, hopefully somewhere near low-sec or null-sec.
#6: Group PvP
Getting your first real killmail is a special moment. Take a few moments to savor the occasion.
Coordinate your ships a bit, share fittings advice with each other, and be sure not to spend too much, since your first few attempts will very probably result in your inglorious demise.
After a number of attempts, as you and your team get better at cooperating while under fire, and your ship types and fittings get a little more refined, you will find that combat is not such a forgone conclusion, after all.
#5: Post A Killmail
Sooner or later, something is going to die, and you are going to be listed as one of the people that killed it. Congratulations! You lost your carebear V-wings! You are already heads and shoulders over the vast majority of the people that play EVE Online, whom are never on a killmail except on the receiving end.
This is a major landmark for any EVE player. Savor the moment. You may still be a carebear at heart, though. Especially if you spend the majority of your time on non-PvP activities. There are a few more things to do before your carebear ways are completely cured.
#4: Suicide Run
You have enjoyed success, but now you must learn to tolerate defeat. In order to prepare yourself for trying solo PvP, you should fit a cheapish ship (perhaps a cruiser) and roll out into low-sec or null-sec by yourself. The idea here is that you will hone your personal reactions and combat skill-set without the distractions of fleet-mates. Your goal is not especially to kill anything, but rather to see how far you can go on your own, learn to deal with difficult situations, and to give yourself the combat jitters acid test.
When you eventually hit an enemy and die, review what you did wrong, how you might have survived, and what you could have done differently to make it go your way or at least allowed you to survive.
That thought process right there is what you should be doing after every fight, including the ones that you win. There are always things that you could have done a bit better or differently, and learning to consider them in an abstract manner will allow you to better improve your PvP skills over time.
#3: Solo PvP
By now, you surely have a favorite ship. Devise a scenario in which your ship would be able to catch and kill another ship, and make it happen. Make it happen again and again. Refine your technique, your ship fitting, and your plan. Hone yourself like a knife until you have a diamond edge.
Some ships are not fantastic for PvP, or at least seem so at first. These ships can still often excel in PvP if you can get the right enemy to engage you. If your ship can't find or chase other ships, get them to come to you by pretending to be mining or by running a low-level mission in a vulnerable spot. Fitting a mining laser or a small flight of mining drones is a pretty good way to broadcast "Hey, you jerk, attack me!" Your only limit here is your imagination.
Learning what you can and cannot engage with a given ship is probably the single more important skill that you as a player can train, within the field of solo ganking. Work on smelling a trap, and learning when and how to run away. Sooner or later, you will get it right.
#2: Solo Kill
Congratulations. Seriously. Although I don't have CCP-endorsed figures in front of me, it would surprise me if more than 5% of EVE Online players have ever gotten a bona fide solo kill from a real combat. Even most dedicated PvPers generally operate with more than one EVE client open.
A solo kill, even a really crappy one, is something special, even when it isn't amazing. It's something that carebears by definition do not accrue. Hopefully, yours was something reasonably decent like a battlecruiser or interceptor, though anything more dangerous than a shuttle is a good start.
#1: Only PvE To Support PvP
The final step is the big one. The defining attribute of being a carebear is that you spend more of your time earning ISK than trying to blow ships up. If you have found in yourself a taste for combat, and a love of PvP that eclipses your love for PvE, then stop PvEing. Just stop.
When you run out of ISK for new ships, then you can go back to PvEing, and still not really be a carebear. A wise man once said that PvP is the best way to exchange ISK for fun. Don't waste any more time working at missions or mining than you need to, in order to support your habit.
Learn to be thrifty. It is not a good idea to buy a single great ship and fit it with expensive faction modules, if you do not have enough ISK to buy five of them. You want middle of the road ships, like tech one cruisers fit with tech two guns, or ever so survivable stealth bombers. Loot and salvage ship wrecks as you go, dropping them off into stations for sale if the opportunity presents itself.
And moreover, once you are completely cured of being a carebear, go to your friends and try to coax them out of their safe high-sec missions and asteroid fields. Get them to at least try exposing themselves to the thrill and danger of PvP. Hold their hand if they need you to, but get them out there. The more players try PvP, the richer the game will be for all of us.
If you made it this far through these steps, in good faith and with good skills, I pronounce you cured entirely of being a carebear.