Wednesday, 24 October 2012

PvP Crash Course: Bjarni

The final part of my PvP Crash Course is a 1v1 against me, and a fight analysis on this blog. Bjarni was the first student to take part in my course (although, from the mail that I am receiving, not the last). Here's what he has to say about himself. 

As you might have noticed, this character is fairly old, I made it with a few of my friends many winters ago. The idea of EVE, the intrigue, the backstabbing, the single shard universe where you can be "somebody", always fascinated me. But only that, 'the idea of EVE'. My experience was fairly different. My friends soon left and I was alone in the big black sky and quit soon after. Came back!.. then left again. Rinse & Repeat. It wasn't until several months ago when I figured out where it all went wrong. I relied on everyone else to get me somewhere, mostly ISK... making ISK felt like some dark art that only the most brilliant people could do, or the ones willing to spend hours upon hours in PvE. I was neither until I did the hard work of learning how play the market. Suddenly I had billions coming out of my ears but most importantly, I had options. The options to play EVE the way I wanted to. Which for me is PvP, all the way, but I quickly noticed that a side effect of being rich is that I got really cheap! And that I'm scared as hell of scratching my ships. But I'm working on that. Baby steps.

I've got some good friends in game who are recovering Carebears, and they're damn fine pilots. If I can help Bjarni find his feet in pvp, I'm happy to do it.

The course is divided into six lessons, and it ran to about three and half hours. In the first lesson we covered safe spots and D-scanning. In the second lesson we looked at how to fight against a brawling fit, and really took a close look at how missiles and turrets actually deal damage in a fight. The third lesson focused on kiting and maneuver. The fourth lesson included cruisers, drones and ewar. The fifth lesson focused on fighting against battlecruisers and the inevitable war of attrition that this involves.

The sixth and final lesson, then, resulted in the video above. I'm flying the Punisher, while Bjarni flies the Rifter. I chose the Punisher for the simple reason that my turret skills are frozen at the level of a six month old character. Flying the Punisher, therefore, helps simulate a fellow "noob".

Bjarni knew my fit, and before the fight we spent some time discussing it in detail. We focused on the comparative active tanks and ehp, as well as the respective optimal ranges. We looked at the implications of the neut in my utility high slot, and I told him that he was going to have to choose between evading my neut and pitting his tank and damage projection against mine, or trying to get under my guns while accepting that his active tank would be unlikely to work.

I then jumped into the next system, and Bjarni was to track me down on D-scan, and jump in on me. I reminded him that he had to keep me pointed, or I would try to escape if the fight went against me.

The fight:

0:08 - I turn from my initial vector to meet Bjarni.

0:29 - Just as Bjarni had to make a choice, so did I, and this is where I make it. It's a subtle thing, hitting "orbit", which is set at 2km. If I had wanted to fight at range, I should have changed course and required him to run me down while I used Scorch to hit him on the nose. However, if I wanted to use my neut, I needed to approach him at high speed so that our collective momentum would bring him into neut range before he could correct. In making my decision to fight in close I overlooked one point that I've not had to deal with in a while, but I'll get to that later.

0:35 - I open fire much earlier than I needed to, but I wanted my guns cycling as soon as I was within range.

0:39 > 0:45 - I start landing hits at 14km out. The next few hits are solid, wiping out 3/4 of his shields, while being barely scratched in return. The tracking then goes to hell as we race past each other. He's in neut range, though, so I start hitting him with that too.

0:53 > 1:01 - We're both still hitting each other, and he's starting into armour while I'm at 1/3 shields. I overheat my guns, but then pull them off overheat because I miss three shots in a row.

1:10 - At this point I make what I feel is my first big mistake of the fight; I turn off my neut. I was starting into armour and not getting any real hits. Feeling my strategy was not working, I decided to try something else. What I did not notice at the time, though, is that Bjarni's web was off - he'd managed to keep everything else active (and lack of good hits meant he did not have to run the repair system), but I gave up just as I would have been about to see the payout.

After the fight Bjarni agreed that there were several points in the fight where a single neut rep more would have shut him down. I got too focused on my own cap, though, and didn't see what was happening to him.

1:24 - By this time, I've stabilised and I'm getting good hits again, so I'm convinced that I've made the right choice. But the lack of pressure has allowed Bjarni to recover some cap, and his web is up.

1:38 - Bjarni is now forced to run the repair system, and his web comes off again. However, he's started to get under my guns, while still landing his own hits.

1:48 - Bjarni has now restabilised, and his web is back up. With that nos, I can't afford to take the pressure off, and I know it. The overheat has gone back on the guns, and I'm switching up my crystals periodically as the range changes to try and keep the hits coming.

1:54 - This is actually a pretty important moment in the fight, because I give up on the orbit and just approach Bjarni, giving me a period of decent tracking. The results are immediate, and I start getting hits. He needs to repair, so the web comes off again.

2:14 - At this point the tracking benefits have worn off because his nav computer has adjusted for my change in flight. I'm missing again, and sure enough, the web comes back on.

2:23 - Here's where I actually get my head together and remember a few things about tracking. I align to the sun, and just start cruising. I've realised that he wants to be in close (and it's working for him), so I want to keep his orbit as regular as possible by flying in a straight line.

2:48 - My change of course gave me just what I needed, and I've got him down to half armor. However, I'd started the maneuver at half armour, and was now down to 1/3rd with an overheating repair system. Bjarni has adjusted his flying again, and I'm getting a few misses.

3:03 - I know I'm going to lose. I worked out the right flight pattern too late into the flight, and my only hope now is to neut out his point and try to warp out. His nos has paid for itself many times over, and is keeping him in the game.

3:07 - I do notice the dropped web this time, and it keeps me hoping for a stroke of luck. The grindiness of this part of the fight makes me kick myself; Bjarni's clearly hurting, and I'm landing hits, even with my poor turret skills. Had I flown like this earlier, I would not be trying to warp out now.

3:20 - I'm having to choose between my neut and the repair system, and only the neut offers any chance of salvation.

3:42 - Boom. Gf, Bjarni. Gf.


First, I need to compliment Bjarni on flying very well. While it would be easy for me to devolve into a rant about how much I hate turrets, the reality is that if either Bjarni or I had made some slightly different decisions, the fight could easily have gone my way. Instead, he managed his modules under my neuts brilliantly, and kept working his orbit to minimize my damage.

My first mistake was forgetting that lasers have an uphill battle against armour tanked ships. I've not used EM damage in ages, so I'd forgotten this until I actually started into Bjarni's armor. Thus, I think my whole premise of getting in, neuting him down, and smashing him fast was flawed. The length of this fight makes it clear that the key was incremental advantage, and I should have simply tried to keep at range as long as possible, and fly so that my tracking was as stable as possible.

My second mistake was not seeing how close Bjarni's capacitor was to failing. As Bjarni confirmed, and as should be clear from the video, he was having serious cap difficulties, but I just didn't see it as my focus was on the combat log as I tried to manage my tracking (not flying turret ships, I don't have angular velocity on my overview).

My final mistake was waiting so long before aligning to the Sun. The entire balance of the battle shifted at that point, and if I'd not been so far behind, it would have made huge difference.

Definitely a good fight.

Course feedback (instructor):

Even before I had a chance to review this video, Bjarni impressed me with this ship handling, and ability to learn and implement new tactics quickly. He really pushed himself on the anti kiting drills, working the maneuvers until he managed them, against both "aggressive" and "defensive" style kiters. If he had a little trouble triggering point, web, and weapons all at the moment of closest approach, it's because that's an awful lot to fit into one second window. I have no doubt that Bjarni will, with practice, become a very difficult, and dangerous, pilot to try kiting.

He also demonstrated quick thinking during the drone drills. Here, he was orbiting my Arbitrator while I sent out waves of different kinds of drones for him to practice webbing and destroying. Key to this process was keeping within nos range of my Arbitrator so that the active tank could be kept running. When he drifted out of nos range he immediately switched his nos to one of the drones, a tactic that he had first been told about only a few minutes earlier.

If Bjarni has a weakness, it's a caution bred of years of pve. He took nearly a quarter of an hour to find me via D-scan, and not because he didn't understand the process. Instead, he was simply very cautious about warping from place to place, and often chose locations based more on their perceived safety rather than their utility as a scanning point. If you know I'm in cluster X, for example, you should warp to planet X, because that planet will be at the center of the cluster, allowing you to separate each element of the cluster on D-scan. Warping to a moon, conversely, will often mean that you still cannot distinguish between different parts of the cluster, despite the fact that you are almost literally next door to me.

That said, I don't feel that this natural caution ever prevented Bjarni from taking calculated risks, and his "up close and personal" approach to the Punisher v Rifter dual did not suggest an unwillingness to take risks - it would have been very easy for him to convince himself to kite, but he didn't and won the fight as a result.

Course feedback (student): 

After making my views public, it's only fair that I give Bjarni the chance to do the same. Here's what he had to say:

Hello there Taurean,

I ran into 
Azual Skoll in Hevrice, I had two expendable Rifters still there and he was kind enough to blow me up and give me some pointers, nice people the Tuskers.

Overall I think the entire thing was spectacular, brought me out of my shell and taught me some new things which was exactly what I was after.
I wrote a little bit down after the course, let me know if I forgot something and I'll send you another essay.

The Duration: The length of the course was fine, EVE PvP isn't something you can explain in 60 minutes anyways and the techniques get absorbed at different rates to different people. Although it would have been shorter if I had asked a couple hundred fewer questions.

The Material: All of your techniques were well explained and in-depth, I don't think I ever needed a further explanation of what you just taught me. I felt like I was starting at the bottom of the pyramid and working my way up and learning more advanced tactics, which suited me perfectly.

The Execution: Besides the literal execution of my shiny Rifters? :( In all seriousness it felt really nice to lose my ships, it really cemented what you were trying to teach and what happens when it fails.

Suggestions: I believe we have similiar teaching styles and this is something I often use when teaching techniques to beginners in martial arts or Parkour.

A some kind of Before/After, I definitely noticed some improvement in my decision making and what to do in the Punisher duel. Some people might be less observant or harder on themselves if they lose and refuse to notice any changes from what you taught them. A straight up "You did "this much" better at the end than in the beginning." might be helpful to some people.

This is what I wrote up soon after your course, ask away if I missed something.

Bjarni Veigar.

I totally hold my hand up on the end of course feedback. It had always been my intention to do something comprehensive after I'd had the time to review the videos and digest the results, but I should have been clearer about that, rather than leave you hanging.

Thanks for the feedback!

Final recommendations:

I'm glad that Bjarni felt he came out of his shell, but what I want to make sure of is that he doesn't retreat back into that shell and disconnect with EvE again, as he has in the past.

To this end, I'd recommend that he join a decent pvp corp and find a target rich environment. While I might ordinarily recommend Red v Blue, my gut tells me that Bjarni's the kind of pilot that has an appreciation for the big picture, and the context of the fight in relation to some larger goal. Thus, he might find even more enjoyment in faction warfare or null sec. Perhaps commenters can suggest reputable corps for Bjarni, as I have no direct experience with life outside lowsec, and my FW stint lasted less than 24 hours.

I would also encourage him to keep focusing on small ships for the time being. I really feel that one of his strengths is going to be his piloting, and smaller, more nimble ships will reward him more fully for that skill than larger, slower hulls.


  1. As Bjarni said in his feedback, we had a couple of fights when he came back to Hev after the course.

    It took him about three minutes to scan me down the first time, which was great. The second time took longer, but I intentionally made that one more difficult.

    He fought well, and while he didn't win either fight (once vs a Merlin, once vs an Atron), his analysis of them afterwards was spot on, and I get the impression he learned a lot from the course. I did recommend he check out Heild and R1FTA as a good place to get 1v1s against other fairly new PVPers, since those can be difficult to find.

  2. I am sure the Kadavr Crimson Guard would like another able body :) we are still a fairly new and very small corporation of only 9 (iirc) members spread across the globe. But we do enjoy the fights in FW and there are practically always an FW-fleet up that you can join if you'd like.

    Ps. Great blog! Glad too see you back in the game. Been following the blog since the first punisher :)

  3. Seems like it was pretty good training course! I'm looking forward to seeing how more of these work out!

  4. I might also point out you're wasting a ton of cap on repair cycles early on (I assume you're not cap stable.) All-in-all though, the training course looks pretty sweet, I wish you much success in your endeavors.