Welcome to the third instalment of my introduction to Eve Online.
In my first two articles I talked a little bit about Eve Online in general and about the various ship types in the game. Now I’d finally like to talk a little bit about PvP in Eve actually works…
More after the jump…
[Edited to add links to the other instalments]
Part 3: Exploding Internet Space Ships
Part 4: Sociopathic Corporations, Roaming Gangs & Gate Camps
PvP in Eve Online: What do?
In order to get an idea of how PvP in Eve actually works, first you’ll need to understand a little bit about some of the tools of the trade. These would be the essential information sources used to locate targets to shoot at: Local channel, the Directional Scanner (D-scanner), Combat scanner probes and ultimately the Overview.
I’ll describe each of these briefly:
The Tools of the Trade: Local, D-Scan, Scanner Probes and the Overview
Local channel is a chat window channel in the Eve Online client that shows the character names of everyone in a solar system and allows you to talk to (usually at) other people in the same system. Because Local channel shows everyone who is in the same system as you, it forms the most basic tool for situational awareness in Eve Online. While it does not tell you where in the system they are, it is always important to know how many people are in system with you in the low-security and null-security parts of the in game universe.
In addition to showing the names of the characters in system with you, Local will also show if your corporation or alliance has set standings (blue for friendly, red for presumed hostile) towards the corps/alliances of the players in system, as well as info relating to criminal status (which I’ll talk about when I discuss low-sec PvP later). Finally, if you right click on characters listed in Local you can show info on them to find out what corporation and/or alliance they are in.
The two primary uses of Local in PvP (besides smack talk, smartass!) are firstly of course to know if there are any (or too many) targets to look for, and secondly to keep an eye on in case a large number of people enter the system you are in together (usually indicating they are in a fleet together, and often they’re buddies of the guy you’re shooting at right now).
As an aside, one of the key things that makes Wormhole space in Eve Online unique is that it doesn’t have a Local channel, thus there’s no immediately obvious way to tell how many players are in a particular wormhole. This is one of the main draws for people interested in Wormhole (aka W-space) PvP as it means you can surprise people much more easily.
The Directional Scanner:
One of the most essential PvP tools in Eve Online, it is also one of the hardest to explain to players new to the game. It is essentially a sonar system that allows you to scan up to a maximum distance of 14.3 Astronomical Units (AU) in up to 360 degrees (in both the horizontal and vertical planes, i.e. a sphere) around your ship.
Within those maximums, the D-Scanner will detect any ships (as well as a variety of other objects based on settings you can change) and show you the ship-type and name given to that ship by its owner. While the D-Scanner will show you what ships are detected it will not allow you to simply warp to any of the ships it detects. In Eve you cannot normally just warp directly to hostile ships (though combat scanner probes, which I’ll discuss next, provide an exception). What the D-Scanner will tell you however is what ships are within 14.3au of you.
Now comes the hard part. The D-Scanner operates with a POV centred on your ships hull, so in order to narrow down what Celestial Object (i.e. planet, asteroid belt, moon, stargate, station, star) a ship is close to (if any) you have to align your camera (i.e. in game perspective in space) through the centre of your ship towards the direction you wish to scan. Once you’ve done this, you can begin narrowing down the viewing angle of your scanner into smaller cones (180 degrees being a half sphere, 90 degrees being a cone, and so on down to a 5 degree cone).
I’m sure most of you are confused as hell at this point so I’ve made a (terrible frankly) 3D perspective drawing to help make this understandable:
Hopefully this image helps you understand how the field of view of the D-Scanner works. If you narrow down a ship in space to be within a 5 degree scan of a certain celestial object (that is within the scanner’s range!) you can be fairly certain that the ship is at that celestial object.
You can then warp your ship to that celestial object at set ranges between 0km and 100km and when you land, you can check your Overview (which I will cover shortly) to see if they are there.
Other uses of the D-Scanner include keeping an eye on what ships are around you at all times (i.e. each time you scan you will see if any new ships have entered the area you are scanning), scanning in the direction of a stargate you are in warp to so you can see what ships are there before you land, and checking to see if anyone has Combat Scanner Probes out, which I’ll describe right now:
Combat Scanner Probes:
Without getting into the specifics of how these work (a task others have covered in depth if you google the topic) I will just say that combat scanner probes allow you to do a different kind of scan on an area in space, where, if you are effective in how you’ve set up your probes, you can get radar results that you can actually warp directly to. To counterbalance the huge advantage this gives you, most ships cannot fit combat scanner probe launchers (at least not without seriously impeding the rest of their fit) and the ships designed to do this (called Covert-Ops frigates) are mainly designed to find targets for others in a fleet with them to shoot, rather than engaging them by themselves.
To give a fairly simple example: If a Cov-Ops frig is in fleet with a bunch of other ships, the Cov-Ops can use its scanner probes to find a ship in space, it can warp to that ship while remaining cloaked, and then the fleetmates of the Cov-Ops can warp to the (still cloaked) Cov-Ops ships to land close to the target ship(s). This is possible because you can warp directly to the ships of people you are in a fleet with.
Of course, given the danger that hostile combat scan probes represent, PvP’ers in Eve (that aren’t idiots) keep an eagle-eye on their D-Scanner for Combat Scanner Probes, and when you see them, you get your ass moving to prevent hostile ships warping directly to you. This makes them far less useful in practice than you would think, though of course you can always catch people who foolishly aren’t paying attention to their D-Scanner in low-security or null-security space.
This is the window in your Eve client that displays objects on the same grid (a roughly 250km-500km area) as your ship. It can be customized with multiple tabs with custom settings to only show certain types of objects (again I recommend googling a guide if you want to learn how to customize your overview settings in detail). Generally for PvP you use an Overview tab set up to show all potentially hostile ships (i.e. everyone that isn’t in your fleet, corporation, alliance or an ally of your corp/alliance), the Star in that solar system (often used to align your ship towards when burning away from people) and Stargates (in case you need to warp to any of them).
The Overview is the main tool you use to see other ships within ~250km of you, and it is the window you use to lock onto ships you want to shoot at. Most people have their overview sorted by distance so it shows objects from closest to farthest, but it can also display all sorts of other information such as their speed relative to your ship, their transversal velocity to your ship (basically how fast they are going perpendicular too you rather than towards/away from you), what alliance or corp they are in, and whether they have targeted you, are shooting at you, and/or are warp disrupting/scrambling you (i.e they have tackle on you making you unable to warp away).
The centrality of the Overview to PvP is self-evident then, since it’s the main source of information about ships you’re within ~250km from and the main window you use when actually targeting other ships to shoot (or tackle, etc.). It is basically a detailed close range radar system.
Of course, the observant amongst you will notice that there are Stargates and the Star on my overview at way further ranges than ~250km. That is because those are celestial objects which can be warped to from anywhere in a system, and you don’t have to be on the same grid as them to see them on your overview.
Bringing it all Together with an Example
Okay, so I’ve talked about some of the basic tools of the trade here, and I’ve talked about some of the modules used in PvP in my previous instalments, so now it’s time to tie this all together with an example of a PvP engagement in Eve.
Note: Any terms used here which might be unfamiliar too you are probably explained in Part 2 of my Intro to Eve Series
Let’s say this is you, flying around in an Assault Frigate (basically a tougher Frigate with more firepower compared to the regular Frigates I mentioned in Part 2). You jump into a null-security system and see only one name in Local Chat, letting you know that there’s only one other pilot in system. You hit your Directional Scanner and it shows that there is a Rifter (a Minmatar Frigate I mentioned last time) on scan. You narrow down the scan until you have them on a 5 degree scan towards an asteroid belt, so you warp to the asteroid belt at 0km hoping to land as close to the Rifter as possible.
The moment you come out of warp at the asteroid belt you can see on your Overview that the Rifter is only 7km from you. You select the Rifter on your overview, hit the approach icon to go towards him, and activate your MWD to burn towards him as quickly as you can. At the same time, you target him and the instant you have him locked you activate your Warp Scrambler and Stasis Webifier on him so he can neither warp away nor burn away from you with a MWD. It’s vital that you keep him within ~8km range limit of your Warp Scrambler and Stasis Webifier otherwise he could escape you. Once you’ve got him tackled you right click on him on your overview and set an Orbit of him at ~4km, right in the range sweet spot for your close range weapons, and activate your guns on him (plus you launch the single light combat drone an Enyo can use).
You quickly begin to eat through the Rifter’s comparatively small tank, and it looks like you’re going to handily destroy him before he can do enough damage to you to make you worry, but then, you see Local Chat spike with 5 new characters. You quickly look up one of them and realize they are in the same corp as the Rifter you’re shooting at. The cavalry. Now you have a decision to make: Do you risk staying long enough to finish him off? Or do you warp away, losing the kill but preserving your ship?
You decide to go for it, and you Overheat your weapons modules (an option which damages the weapons modules the longer it is active, destroying them entirely if active for too long, but significantly increasing your damage in the meantime), and try to finish off the Rifter as quickly as possible. You set your D-Scanner to a short range 360 degree scan, wanting to see what ships his friends have before they land. You see a couple of Battlecruisers and 3 more Frigates on short range D-scan just as the Rifter explodes (ejecting the escape pod of the Rifter pilot), you immediately start warping to the Star at 70kms, just as the Rifter pilot’s 5 friends start to land on grid with you. Before any of them can target you to tackle you, you enter warp and make your escape.
You take a moment to say “gf” (good fight) in local (or talk smack, whatever) before plotting a course away from the system your in, and start hauling ass outta there before the small-gang whether or not they want to chase you.
And that is just one simple example of how PvP in Eve Online actually works. In next week’s article I’ll talk about some of the different styles of PvP in Eve Online, as well as Fleets and Fleet Roles.
That’s Yo “Very Short Introduction My Ass” Garbage!