Greetings Capsuleers. The majority of my combat experience in the game has been as a solo pvper. Much of my activity revolves around fighting, making preparations for fights, and scouting potential targets. This is what keeps me playing and is the most visceral and immediate way that I can interact with my neighbors. It’s my small way of engaging with others and the basis of most of my relationships in the game. To date, my personal channels are mostly made of pilots that are red, as opposed to blue. Allegiances may change over time but the relationships I have nurtured with others in the field of combat will sustain well beyond such player made barriers like organizational color coded standings.
I have been told many times over my combat career that I’m doing it wrong. Players with much more skill points than I once told me that my killboard will never be green, I will never be able to financially support my pvp habit, and that I will never learn anything significant since solo combat is irrelevant in an MMO. Well, I’m very happy to report that all of those proved to be wrong. It may have taken some time to be able to make that statement, but it is absolutely possible.
“Be that disruptive force.”
So, why do I fight? Firstly, combat is the most enjoyable activity in the game for me. However, solo combat is the most rewarding. I may lose ten fights in a row, but that eleventh fight that leads to a win is going to feel so sweet. That win will wash away all the negative feelings I had with the previous losses and give me the motivation to keep going.
The second and greatest reason to continue on with solo combat is this: I want to be a disruptive force. I want to be the reason you have to resort to Plan B. There may be five of you and just one of me. But if you want me to go away so you can carry on with your day to day grind, then you need to push me off grid. I’m not going anywhere.
What can you do to improve as a solo pvp pilot?
1. Have a clean overview. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to quickly identify threats or targets of opportunity simply because you were not able to see them in your overview. Ideally, having separate tabs for elements such as drones and celestials will help with this. Having all those elements within your main pvp tab can hinder how quickly you can react.
2. Have a general understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of ships. This will help you in identifying a target as something you can kill or something you need to stay away from.
3. Have an escape plan. If it looks like there is no way for you to win a fight you are already engaged in, is there a way for you to break off the engagement? Once committed, do you have the tools to stop the enemy from holding you down? Do you have the maneuverability to zip around your enemies and kill them from range as they helplessly try to tackle you?
4. Most importantly, be realistic with your expectations. Just because you are alone, doesn’t mean your targets will be alone as well. If a fight escalates to a “one vs many” situation, then don’t feel like you’ve been cheated. It’s not an exploit for a party to bring more of their friends to secure a win. Instead, make preparations for such a scenario and diminish the enemy’s numerical advantage.
Here are some examples of these concepts at work. Disclaimer: I was using my alt “Klmtykte” for these fights.
- Scenario 1: I was in my algos when I saw a stilleto and a few thrashers on short scan. Soon, a stilleto lands on grid and immediately scrams me. I start burning away from the warp in point, aligned to the out gate. At this time, one of the thrashers appear on grid. My warriors manage to kill the stilleto just as the second and third thrashers land. At this point, the thrashers are around 20-30 km away from me. I continued to burn towards the out gate and the first thrasher warp disrupts me. I applied drones as the rest of his friends start closing the gap. I eventually burned far enough to lose point and just as I hit warp, he dies to my drones.
Understanding that this was a fight where I will be outnumbered, I was counting on my maneuverability and kiting nature of damage projected from drones to be a threat to the enemy fleet. At the very least, I’ll have a good chance to break the engagement by creating as much of a gap as possible due to my micro warp drive. Even outnumbered, I felt that this was a fair fight.
Reference Kill Report: https://zkillboard.com/related/30045330/201503030400/
- Scenario 2: I was in a scram kite executioner when an incursus and two tristans appear on short scan. I exited the system, thinking that I didn’t have enough to actually contest that fleet. As I jumped to the next system, I stayed cloak to see if they would give chase. One of the tristans followed. I thought it strange that the rest of the fleet did not do the same. At this point, I thought that my current fit is of lesser isk value compared to the tristan. It was worth the risk to try to kill it just on that metric alone. Along with these favorable pot odds, the range of my lasers would give me a bit more versatility in engaging kiting tristans.
I commit to the engagement and burn away from the gate. I was able to take the tristan to deep armor by the time the rest of his friends show up. It didn’t take long for the rest of the fleet to engage me but it was too late for them to save their friend.
In the end, I was correct in assuming that the tristan would be more expensive than my executioner. Even though I died, I killed more than I lost and the enemy fleet was now down a man. Op success.
I hope I was able to dispel some myths about the non-viability of solo pvp. As you can see, all of these concepts can be used in a fleet context. All you need is the organization to move as a single unit and trust that your FC will make the right calls at the right time. Eve is the best example of an open world pvp game that actually lives up to that advertisement. In that open world, you don’t need to be the biggest thing in space to have the greatest impact. I hope I have empowered some of you to take a look at the game, see the vulnerable points of some player organizations, and just go for the jugular.
Besides the challenge of being a successful solo combat pilot, being a smaller entity going against a larger one has some profound advantages. Psychologically, you will have the advantage in that most larger entities seem to have this idea that you will be too small to do anything. Use their complacency to your advantage. Hit hard, hit fast, but run even faster. Remember, it will be a target rich environment for you. You will have more options as far as who to kill and when to spring the trap. The enemy will not be presented with as much opportunities as you.
Often, we find ourselves thinking that there is no one to fight. But in a solo or efficient small gang environment, you will have more targets than you would know what to do with. All you need to do is undock, stick to your plan, and open your mind to learning something new. Be that disruptive force. In the end, even your enemies will begin to love you for it. Fly safe and good fights.