Tools – Osmium (https://o.smium.org/)
Player v Player (PvP) combat is probably one of the hardest skills to master in Eve Online, and is often a skill that players get into only after they have lost significant numbers of ships. One reason for this is that it can be very hard to know where to start. Of course, theories vary widely from pilot to pilot and regardless of the content on this page I strongly suggest looking for a wide variety of opinions on the matter of starting out pvp. There are just so many ideas, philosophies on fittings, flying strategies and tactics that it is impossible to cover in a single blog post. As such we will not be focusing too much on flying frigates in large fleets but instead focusing on duels and small gang pvp where you are much less likely to find pilots kitted out to be a pure point or pure sniper. Instead most ships will be fitted to take point and deliver Damage Per Second (dps) on their own. A well-organised small gang frigate fleet might fit to free up extra mid slots on some pilots in the fleet relying on one or two members of the fleet to lock down an opponent – but this is not a document dedicated to complex fleet strategies. At this stage that will simply complicate things for anyone just starting out. Most ships in Eve will be fitted to fill one of three categories in a PvP, they will either design their fit to brawl their opponent, lock them down and deliver as much dps as possible in a short period of time, while kiters at least in frigate combat try to control the range of the fight in staying just inside warp disrupter range. They tend to deliver less dps then brawlers, but have much more survivability. Speed tanking for frigate kiters is a personal favourite, but it can be hard to master range control because it is just not as simple as hitting orbit and shoot, there are ways to sling shot orbiting ships or push them into an object in space that might stop or drastically slow their ship instantly. Let’s take a closer look at the basics, and some examples of ships that are useful in each of these roles, we will focus on the T1 variants of these ships, but the same principles apply for faction ships and over time you will begin to recognise the traits and bonuses that make some ships best suited to certain roles over another.
As we touched on a moment ago, brawling is that act of fitting a ship to get as close to an opponent as possible, pinning them down and delivering maximum dps in a very short amount of time. This ships often have a high death ratio but they can deliver big punch very quickly, and when it comes to frigate warfare, you won’t usually get a second chance if this guy gets you locked down unless you’re in a brawler as well, in which case may the best pilot win. A hint, neutralisers and drones can really make a big difference in this fight as well as your ability to control the range of the fight.
Indispensable equipment – Warp Scrambler, Stasis Webifier, Energy Neutralizer, MWD
Typical Weapons – Rockets, Blasters, Pulse Lasers
The rest of your equipment will very much depend on your fit. Most of these ships will have 3 mid slots, are often a bit more naturally tanky, have a slightly larger capacitor, the drawback is that they tend to be a little slower than other frigates making range control very hard which is why locking down your opponent is so important. As such getting inside Warp Scramble and Webifier range is critical, it is rare for a brawling frigate to be able to do much damage from range unless they have drones equipped (which is rare for an all-out brawler).
Kiting is probably a bit more of a fine art then brawling and describes the strategy of fighting your opponent from a distance just inside your ships optimal range. They tend to employ weapons that make use of longer ranges then brawls preferring to stick with a Warp Disrupter as opposed to a Scrambler for the added range. They don’t tend to deliver as much dps as brawlers, but instead rely on keeping the enemy out of range. This strategy also has the advantage of making a Stasis Webifier pointless, freeing up a mid-slot to make use of tracking disruptors or target painters which can be critical in these kinds of fights especially if you end up solo against another kiter.
Indispensable equipment – Warp Disrupter, MWD
Typical Weapons – Light Missiles, Railguns, Beam Lasers, Drones
As before all other equipment depends very much on the ship you are using. It is not uncommon for a kiter to have 4 mid slots as well, which can be very valuable. The goal of a kiter is to be the fastest ship on the field and to have absolute command of range in a fight, as such speed tanking is a very common strategy with kiters, they are naturally faster, usually having some drone capacity and can deploy electronic attacks, but they do tend to be quite easy to kill.
These ships are probably the hardest to pilot they rely on have some ability to attack from range while still being able to fight a brawl if need be. The ideal role for this pilot is to sit just outside of a brawler’s gun range while pinning them down and delivering dps. Drones are a very common component of these ships and this is exactly what allows them to take on kiters. They will almost never control the range against a kiter, but with drones they have the capacity to strike at range and kill their opponents – they tend to be a bit tankier then kiters, and as such can usually out last them in a toe to toe fight. But as usually range is critical. It’s not uncommon for these guys to fit an Afterburner and a MWD and make use to the most appropriate one depending on their opponent. The brawlers scramble will shut down the MWD, while the burner still gives the Kite-Brawler a shot at holding range, while the MWD give him a shot at getting in close to a kiter.
Optimal Range – 7-10km (Within Webifier range)
Indispensable equipment – Warp Disrupter, Drones, MWD/Afterburner (maybe both depending on the ship)
Typical Weapons – Rockets, Blasters, Pulse Lasers, Drones (They will tend to use ammo that hold better range)
The equip on this one is the harder to get right because it can be so hard to balance – the reality is that there are few T1 frigates that can fill this role effectively. Most important for this role however is a skilled pilot who can manipulate their opponents orbit to control range. It is not an easy role to fill and is something I do not recommend for pilots just starting out, but it can be very effective especially if you are flying solo.
Many of the principles we have explored here are also applicable to larger ships, while making allowances for the range of bigger weapons, at which point a specialized point pilot becomes critical for locking down an opponent. But these discussions are for a later post. For now, focus on the basics with a specific focus on kiting and brawling as the two first strategies to master as a combat pilot. Osmium is a site I use to store fits and look for ideas on how to fit certain ships. But the most important thing to remember is that you will lose ships, especially when first starting out, but as you gain experience. No matter how good you are, the expectation of losing ships should never leave you mind as a combat pilot. Expect to lose ships and a lot of them, that’s why you should learn in something cheap like a frigate. It is a good way to master pvp skills, get you used to hot keys, and develop your skills for balancing a ships strengths and weaknesses in a fight. Above all though, have fun and try to learn something new each time you lose a ship. If you can take something from each fight you will very quickly become a skilled pilot regardless of SP.
Some Personal Favorites of the T1 lineup
While versatility is not always the key to being a great frigate, The Marlin is nothing short of a ship that can fill any three of the strategies listed above very effectively. It is this level of unpredictability that makes it one of the most dangerous frigates for pvp combat. It is probably one of the best suited ships to the kite-brawl role, but can easily fit for kite or brawl as required – weather it is blaster fitted with a solid tank or mwd fitted with rails and duel webs it is a great ship for controlling a fight on your own terms.
The Tormentor & The Crucifier
The Amarr T1 frigates are not always the best suited to pvp, while they can be very effective as pve ships they simply do not measure up to other T1 frigates. Capacitor issues cause by their reliance on energy weapons can play a big factor in deciding the outcome of frigate combat within less than 1 minute of a fight with very few T1 frigates can run kite with a MWD while sustaining fire from beam lasers for long period, they are also highly vulnerable to capacitor attacks and this will shut them down very quickly in a brawl. The Tormentor and the Crucifier are not exceptions to this rule, but their capability to deploy drones does offer a little extra versatility that can make them very effect ships if you can manage your capacitor and stay out of Neut range. Their ability to tank and utilize Electronic Warfare from 15-20km out means that they can do very well in a kiting role. Both ships, The Tormentor and Crucifier are quite slow as far as frigates are concerned however and this can cause problems, but The Tormentor can do a lot of damage for a T1 frigate, and the Crucifiers extra mid slot leaves plenty of room for a double web.
The Incursus is a bit of an anomaly of the frigate world, with possible the best tank of any T1 frigate in the game. Its ability to absorb damage is legendary, and it can be fit as both a kiter and brawler depending on the situation. While its potential dps may not be as high as some it is quite fast and it can still hit from range. A solitary drone can also be a very annoying fly in frigate combat that could turn things in your favor very quickly as a brawler.
Probably one of the most specialized ships in this short list, it makes this list as a pretty brutal attacking force. Depending on how it is fit, its Damage output can be quite extra ordinary and recent updates to rockets have only served to benefit this ship. While it is almost exclusively a brawler, it is probably the best at it as far as T1 frigates go. If you do not score kills 1v1 in this ship it would be a surprise.
The most versatile T1 Frigate in Eve right now, the Tristan combines everything into one little package. It’s solid drone bay, respectable speed and ability to fit either rail guns or blasters mean that it is a hard ship to read on the battle field. A fight with one of these is always risky because it 100% depends on your opponent’s fit as to whether you will win. The Tristan can choose its engagement window better than any other Frigate be it at close range or better yet at 15-20km. This choice means that no matter how you fit it, the Tristan will usually be the one dictating the terms of the fight unless you can catch it out. This ability to dictate terms in the Tristan means that it can decide the outcome of a fight more often than any other frigate now in Eve Online. But this expected to be some changes when SISI is deployed that are expected to nerf the Tristan amongst others, but it remains to be seen if this will affect its versatility.
Other ships of note include, The Atron: Providing excellent DPS and a great speed tank, it is right up there with the best, and can compete with most T1 frigates with the right fit. The Slasher: another excellent example of speed tank and capability of dictating combat range in a fight, its reliance on its speed is reflected in its paper-thin hull. The Kestrel: not as versatile as they once were, but they can still serve up massive dps, it is not as tanky or fast as it once was though, so it is a bit easier to catch these days. The Maulus: Often underrated, it is a viable option that can sometimes catch out an opponent, but often does not measure up if it is caught out going toe to toe with a specialized brawler or kiter. The Executioner, not the worst choice in a fight at all its fast and it can deliver dps, but it is vulnerable to capacitor use, cap stability is critical in this ship.
Fly Dangerously!!! o7