EVE Online has some of the most intense PvP of any MMO. In part, this is because of the completely open-ended nature of PvP in EVE Online: there are no arenas, no artificial balancing of teams, nor any other theme-park-style MMO trappings. Duels have developed as one way for pilots to fairly resolve their differences. Honor is well and good for some, but others prefer to wear the black hat. This guide explains several dishonorable strategies for gaining the upper hand in what might once have been honorable EVE PvP.
The story is an old one, and repeats itself dozens of times every day: a player says something mouthy in the local chat channel of a solar system, another players takes umbrage, and then they challenge each other to an "honorable" duel. Because of the game mechanics involved with aggression within high-security space, it is much easier to have a fight if both of the parties agree to it, rather than resorting to non-consensual combat. Wars take too long to become active, and have many poorly understood or poorly implemented mechanics. Suicide ganking is generally ineffective against specific targets, unless you have a surfeit of alternative characters that can surprise your target.
It's far simpler to meet a guy at a planet under agreed-upon circumstances, have one of you steal something from a jettisoned container belonging to the other one, and then have it out. Simple, perhaps, but not necessarily fair.
Unfair Advantages In EVE PvP
Some ways to win at these 1v1 duels might involve having a better character with more skill points trained in the right places, flying the right ship, fitting the right modules, or possessing a superior mastery of EVE Online game mechanics. Alternatively, and more to the point of this article, you might collect a series of invisible yet indispensable bonuses that tip the battle overwhelmingly in your favor.
Combat Boosters: EVE PvP Performance Enhancers
Though the best combat boosters are illegal in high-security space, they can be safely moved within a solar system or imbibed and then benefitted from without the interference of customs officers. A carefully chosen booster is like having an extra two or three modules fit to your ship, something that will surely make a difference in your "honorable" duel.
For the many varieties of boosters, see THIS article. The moral here is to be prepared. Smuggle your booster into your destination system before you need it, so you don't need to bypass customs in a hurry. Use a small, fast ship that can warp while cloaked, and it is unlikely that customs will bother you.
Out of Corp Fleet Boosters
The bonuses available from leadership or gang links are tremendous - stuff like a thirty percent range bonus to warp disruption or a bonus to armor resists. A well chosen bonus will make a major difference in your otherwise very fair, very honorable duel. Have a second character in a command ship (or even a battlecruiser) run a fleet with your bonus of choice and your opponent will likely never be the wiser (though probably the dead-er). If your opponent insists on being in the same fleet as you or that you be the only two pilots in local, feel free to accuse him of slandering your honor until he acquiesces.
See here for a list of the potential bonuses involved.
Neutral Remote Repair Alts
Experienced duelists know that dishonorable scallawags (you) may seek to have another member of your corporation ready to join the fray if the fight turns against you. Thus, any back-up you need should be in an entirely different corporation. NPC corporations are preferable. Your back-up can be a friend, or you with a second EVE client open. Either way, it should be capable of remotely repairing your shields or armor.
See the first EVE guide in this series for more information.
Calling In The PvP Cavalry
The aggression game mechanics in high-security space are basically a collection of rectified mistakes. If you steal from someone else's cargo container, they can open fire on you without penalty or interference from NPC police. But, if they start shooting at you, even a little bit, you may respond in kind.
Duelists exploit these rules to be able to have at it without CONCORD interference. To start an unimpeded fight, two duelists will arrange for one to take items out of the other's jetcan, so the other can commence hostilities. All that is fair and honorable, until one party's backup gets involved.
Once both sides have exchanged fire, the game mechanics will permit anybody from either person's corporations to jump into the fight without CONCORD interfering. I don't know if CCP included this rule as an attempt to have small fights snowball into something bigger or what, but in practice, this lets jerks spring entire fleets on unprepared, honorable 1v1 opponents. Such dishonorable rogues will have their friends either log off in that solar system ahead of time and log on at an opportune moment or wait a jump or two away until they get the call to action. As time has gone one, this dishonorable tactic has become more or more prevalent, to the point where many players will not agree to a 1v1 duel if it seems like the other party is never on killmails by his- or herself. Indeed, researching your opponent's killboard history is a good way to see, in advance, just how faithfully they might obey the terms of your duel.
Warp Core Stabilizers: When You've Really Got To Go
These handy little modules make it harder to tackle your ship by increasing your "warp core strength." You probably already know about these things. They're great. The silly thing about them, though, is their main drawback: they increase the amount of time it takes your ship to lock on to things.
In most combat, lock speed is a pretty important factor. Taking an extra ten seconds to lock each target in a fight is a sure way to lose. But, in honorable 1v1 PvP combat, there are often a few moments before the fight starts in which to lock your opponent and bypass your lock speed penalty. This allows you to still enjoy the protective benefits of warp core stabilizers - namely, that if the fight starts going against you, you can just warp away. Very likely your opponent doesn't have the warp disruption strength to prevent your escape. The ability to disengage at will is one of the most important things for maintaining a high kill to death ration. Sayonara, sucker.