EVE Online offers a rich and open-ended world of PvP, without the conceits of arenas, PvP-specialized areas, or even level limits. Because of this, it can be difficult for players to find meaningful PvP encounters that they have any hope of winning. This is an EVE guide with five ways to find PvP encounters.
EVE Online is a game with an intimidating array of options, with such numerous options that many new players have trouble deciding what to try. Nowhere is this more apparent than in PvP, where the open-ended nature prevents un-skilled players from even trying it. This guide is an attempt to show players that PvP is approachable, accessible, and (occasionally) winnable.
5. Gate Camps
An oldie but a goodie: sit on a gate at suitable range, and attack anybody that comes through. Usually, a high-traffic gate is best, since that will ensure that the highest number of potential targets will pass through your gauntlet. This is best done in groups, though also can be fun in a tough solo ship. My favorite solar system to do this in is PF-346, though I hear HED-GP, R3-K7K, and EC-P8R all have good pickings, too.
Most solo camping is done with survivable ships that can escape back through a gate or else quickly outdistance any superior forces. Ships in the former category include most battleships (I see the Raven doing this fairly often), while notables in the latter include pretty much any Angel Cartel faction ship, especially the Dramiel.
In a group, players will traditionally include at least one player in an ECM-using ship like the Falcon or Rook, so that if a superior force jumps in on them, they can jam the attackers and allow their friends to escape. Remember that when it comes to camping gates, it is not a matter of if a superior force will break up your camp, but when.
As always, having a scout on the far side of the gate is a good idea. Ideally, that character would be cloaked, in an NPC or otherwise innocuous corporation, and be near enough to the gate the far side of the gate that you are camping to let you know about incoming ships.
When it comes to gate camps, the main skills tested will be catching people before they escape, and assessing incoming hostile groups for whether they are too risky to fight or not. Smelling a trap and learning when to trust your instinct is crucial. And remember that, in EVE PvP, if you think it is a trap, it probably is.
4. Roaming Fleets
This is probably the simplest means of finding PvP possible. Get your ship and, optionally, a fleet of your friends, and take off in search of adventure. In this case, adventure usually takes the form of solar systems that have been listed as having a high number of NPC kills and/or a high number of players in space. Burn through any ships you find on the way, and hope to find some juicy stuff. For fleets like this, it is usually only a matter of time before you bite off more than you can chew: perhaps it is a defense fleet, or a drake with a cynosural field and a Nyx on standby. In any case, the hope is to find vulnerable targets and destroy them, before you are forced to flee or are slain.
Fleets of this really, really need a scout that stays one step ahead of everybody else. This can be a covert ops ship with combat probes, a force recon with a good tackle such as the Arazu, or just a ship that is likely to be good bait such as the Drake.
There are a few common perils when using this method to find PvP in EVE. The first is wasting too much time looking for targets in a single location. Doing so bores you and/or your friends, gives the locals a chance to form a defense fleet, and allows those nearby a chance to hide. Another pitfall is that there will be nobody to kill or, even worse, nobody to fight. Under most circumstances it is probably much better to fight a battle and lose, than to not even get a taste of combat. This may not hold true for everybody all of the time, but it is a general rule for casual PvP. As long as you and your friends are victorious at least some of the time, you should be fine.
3. Set A Trap
There's nothing quite like a good trap, where a ship conjures backup out of mid-air, or else is itself more formidable than it first appears. EVE Online PvP can often be something of a shell game, with each contestant springing his or her trap, then seeing whose trap is better.
One of the most simple forms of traps is exclusively for high-sec: fitting a Badger Mk. II industrial out with combat gear, then stealing from a mining ship so that it may attack you without CONCORD interfering. Then, with luck and careful prey choice, you should hopefully be able to turn the tables on the weakling mining ship. Most mining ships are usually armed with drones and a weak tank, though it is a good idea to use a ship scanner module to check your prey, first.
This trick can be expanded, as well. A properly fit Badger II can take out interceptors or electronic attack frigates, if it is well piloted and the attacker is foolhardy. An Impel (Amarr Heavy Transport) can be fitted out in such a way that it has as many effective hit points as a battleship, which is fine bait for a nearby fleet.
Another well-used trap is the use of Covert Cynosural Field modules. A ship such as the Lachesis or Arazu can land a target, then open the cyno to allow a fleet of stealth bombers, force recons, and black ops battleships to teleport directly to that location. An unpleasant surprise for the recipient, but one that requires highly skilled pilots that can make use of the cyno, as well as afford the expensive ships involved. This is a lot of fun in places like Curse or Stain, and not much work for most members of the fleet, who only need wait until the tackler opens his cyno. This can go sour when a fleet hunts in a single area too much, and the locals figure out your tricks. Then it may be your fleet that panics as a cynosural field opens, and ships pour out of nowhere.
2. Undock Games
The Budweiser of PvP, undock games are where one equips an especially durable ship, attacks any nearby enemies until things get dangerous, then re-docks. At no point during undock games does one depart from the safety of the station undock radius or allow your ship to actually be threatened, so it is considered an unsporting means of combat. This is actually a bonus if you are out-matched numerically, as you can frustrate several of your enemies at once.
You must also take care that your station of choice has a large "undock radius". Many stations can be docked in, within a relatively large area, i.e. you need not actually be very close to their in-game object to dock. With others, you can be almost touching them, yet still be unable to dock. If you play undock games with the wrong station, skill pilots may be able to ram you out of the undock radius, where you will surely perish. Know your station types, avoid the bad ones, and you will not have this problem.
1. The Great Betrayal
This is for players that are tired of getting their fleets wiped out with hot-drops or by enemy fleets with hundreds of players in them, this is a great way to get guaranteed PvP. It requires a bit of preparation work, but is inevitably good for a predictable PvP payout. The method is as follows: find a corporation full of suckers and join it. The game mechanics of EVE Online allow you to attack fellow members of your corporation, even in high-security space. Presumably, this is to allow players to practice fighting, prevent friendly fire accidents, and so forth. In practice it allows for schemes like this: when you spot an Orca outside of an NPC corporation that is floating in an asteroid belt, find a recruiter for that organization and apply to join. If you are a smooth talker and have the right skills trained (or claim to be training them), they will likely allow you in. Then go on their next mining op, switch to a combat ship, and blow up their orca plus whatever else you can manage. Mean? Yes. All in good fun as far as EVE PvP is concerned? Yep.
This expands equally well to null-sec corporations, where you can often ambush many unwary people before being discovered and kicked out. The best method seems to be using your spy character to get a tackle, then having a fleet of friends bust in and help you make quick work of your victim.
Other Ideas For Finding EVE PvP
There are many other ways to find PvP in EVE Online. Some require dedication, others dedication, while still others need social engineering. All require some measure of luck.
Some other venues:
Red Versus Blue: Though I have never tried it, members of the RvB community cannot sing its praises loudly enough.The gist of the idea is that players join either the red or blue corporation. The two corporations are perpetually at war, and so may fight without CONCORD interference. There is supposedly a constant supply of frigate and cruiser fights to be had, which sounds to me like a great way to polish EVE PvP skills.
Rock The Test Server: Though frigate and cruiser fights are surely fun, I feel that learning how to use the test server is a better way to develop PvP acumen. It is there that people will throw away faction battleships, capital or supercapitals, and all manner of EVE Online's PvP mechanics are more or less available for you to play with. Since it is not the main EVE server and nothing there is permanent, you need not waste precious EVE ISK. That said, it is kind of annoying having to install a second copy of EVE Online and keep it updated, which is what is required to use the test server.
Any way you go about getting EVE PvP, there are going to be both successes and failures. Roll with the punches and learn from your defeats, and you will find yourself relishing your victories all the more. Keep your chin up and remember that it is all in the game.