Tuesday, 13 November 2012

PvP Crash Course: Manu

This is another PvP Crash Course video and fight analysis. I've been messing about with EvE and FRAPS settings, and I've managed something a little higher quality than in the past. I've also figured out why my voice has not been recorded previously, and fixed it. However, it seems that I've done so by excluding all other sound. So I'm still working on that one.

Manu was a much younger character than I anticipated taking on, but I was impressed by his enthusiasm and the quality of his application. Here is a small excerpt his EvEmail.

I am extremely new to Eve, i have been flying a little over 2 weeks now, and am in love with the game. I was waiting for my new computer for around 2 months and during that time read about, researched, and followed Eve as much as I could. This is the game I have been searching for and I am happy I have finally found it. While I love how Eve has so many different paths to make, I am in it for PvP. I joined RvB right from the start, day 2, so that I could get into pvp immediately. I have been playing daily and flying in fleets/roaming as much as possible, trying to take in as much as I can. Luckily I took advantage of the Buddy Invite program and got a nice amount of starting isk to support my early PvP.

This kind of introduction told me much of what I needed to know. He had the resources to actually afford the ships he would lose on the course (always a question mark for such a young character) and had already shown a serious commitment to pvp. Excellent!

There was some difficulty with fits, as Manu is obviously a very low skill point character. I also told him that he absolutely had to have Thermodynamics I trained by the day of the course, which I imagine ate up about a week or so.

I ran this course a little differently, as Manu is a Gallente pilot, focusing on the Incursus. With no utility high slot to power the active tank, above class kills are especially tricky for Incursus pilots. On the other hand, Manu could theoretically break the tank on my Vengeance, and would be very strong in on-class fights.

I therefore started with the larger hulls and worked down. This enabled us to discuss mechanics on hulls that could tank his damage easily, while allowing him to try and apply those lessons to later hulls where he actually had a chance of victory.

I've discussed the specifics of the course before, and this set of lessons was very similar, but with a very heavy focus on the mechanics of Overloading, as well as an in depth discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of Gallente ships.

The final lesson, then, resulted in the above video. After the painful experience of flying the Punisher again, I decided that I'd simply fly missile based ship but only use meta weapons and T1 ammo. In hindsight, this was a far better choice, as my familiarity with the systems meant that I was able to spend more time focusing on what Manu was doing rather than flying my own ship. Ultimately, I think that was more helpful.

Prior to the fight, we talked about our respective fits, and my slightly superior speed (thanks to being shield tanked). This meant that Manu would need to close range as much as possible, so that, even as I tried to back off, he would be able to maximise the time I spent within his optimal. I explained that the best way to achieve this was on the initial approach, when our respective momentums would carry us right past each other (I did not intend doing anything too tricky, like spiraling in). Overheating his guns early would be key, too, but he had to watch that they did not burn out.

On a side note, this was the day of the Tusker FFA, and the first time I let Manu hunt me, someone else got there first! Because they were also flying an Incursus, I thought Manu had found me and I engaged. As I'm talking him through the fight, he tells me "Um, that's not me." I nearly die laughing and use my better speed and range control to leave the fight and meet Manu at a safe. I reload my launchers, and we let the fight start.

The fight:

0:01 - Manu is a little slow to target me, perhaps because of low character skills, or perhaps because he waited until I was within scram range to start the targeting. Either way, I've got him scrammed and webbed before he even has me locked.

0:04 - As I've mentioned elsewhere, my guns are one of the last things I turn on, and I've already spent a few seconds considering my range and speed before I activate them. I'm not overheating, as I already have a significant skill point advantage over Manu.

0:10 - Manu has me scrammed but not webbed! I don't notice yet, because I'm watching our range and his speed. I can see that he's missed the opportunity to keep me close, but I want to see how he reacts. I'm hoping that he'll overheat his afterburner and hit approach. As it is, I'm too far out of range for him to hit me.

0:14 - Manu has opened fire, presumably to try and make sure his weapons are cycling when he manages to hit range. At this stage I'm pretty sure I've just selected a 5km orbit, and am not doing much else.

0:22 - Now, Manu remembers his drone, which is excellent, because I've forgotten all about it. He does not have T2 drone skills, but the fact that he's launched it is a very good sign.

0:28 - After having let Manu try and find his own way, I start commenting on the fight, suggesting that he overload his repair system. I've got a neut on this ship (and I'm cap stable with the neut running), but I prefer to keep the range advantage that I have rather than risk closing my orbit in order to use the neut. I also want the fight to last a bit, so Manu has a chance to try and think his way through this, and shutting down his tank would end the fight pretty quickly.

0:39 - With the repair system overloaded, I can't break his tank (until the repair system burns out, that is), which is a good thing. As noted above, I want Manu to have a little more time to try and catch me, and get as much as he can out of this fight. I also want to see how well he can keep an eye on his heat damage.

0:49 - At this point, I start to directly address the issue that Manu is having with this fight, which is range dictation. This is always going to be a key point for blaster fit boats, and I don't want to wait until after the fight before I raise it.

1:16 - After suggesting that he overheat his AB (which should have given him range dictation over me as I'm not overheating anything), I notice that he's still not closing the range. I take a look at my own speed, and see that I'm still doing over 1000 km/s. That forces me to double check everything, and I see that Manu never activated his web. I immediately draw that to his attention.

1:25 - Manu does activate his web, and my speed immediately starts to drop. Unfortunately, it's too little too late, and Manu explodes.

1:31 - Here, both Manu and I screw up. Manu does not get his pod out in time (a recurring problem for him), but I fail to stop my momentum in time, and so immediately after pointing him, I'm carried out of scram range.


Like most new pvpers, one of Manu's main difficulties is simply remembering the myriad of things he needs to do while in combat. Here, as is often the case, a single oversight turned a fairly even fight into pigeon shoot. It's unfortunate, but ultimately the lesson ought to be very useful.

I suffered from this many times when I started out, and it won't go away until you teach yourself to constantly review your modules - you don't just hit the button once and ignore it! Once you start doing that, you will still make mistakes (or lag will drop your command to the server), but you will also catch those mistakes before they are fatal.

What would I have done if I were in Manu's shoes? I would have simply hit approach, because tracking makes no difference against my rockets. I would have overheated my point and web on the initial approach, and taken them off overheat as soon as range allowed. I would then have overheated my guns as soon as I was in range, and left them there for as long as I could. Me being me, I'd totally forget to drop my drone.

While keeping an eye on my heat damage, I would have been focusing on range and speed, when it became clear than my opponent was trying to increase the range, I would have overheated my afterburner, to try and keep them within my optimal for as long as possible.

Finally, if it looked like they were going to outrange me, I would have dropped my web and started burning in the opposite direction, trying to get them to overshoot, so I could warp out.

Course feedback (instructor):

I'm not sure I would offer this course to such a young character again, and not because of anything Manu did wrong. There were simply some exercises that didn't work well because of Manu's lack of skill points. One example is where we were practicing the approach against turret cruisers. Manu was making perfect approaches, but his lack of Navigation skills meant that he was going from full hits to light hits, rather than to no hits. That does not really reinforce the learning point, as, from Manu's point of view, the result was not really worth the added effort of manual piloting.

Manu did seem to get overwhelmed with the sheer number of things that have to be done, and Gallente frigates are notorious for front-loading the pilot's work. Those first few seconds are really make-or-break for the Gallente, which significantly increases the learning curve.

However, Manu was also very enthusiastic, and I'm certain that with practice he'll overcome these initial challenges. He has the enthusiasm and aggression necessary to fly Gallente ships well, and I can see him becoming a very dangerous pilot once his support skills are up to par.

 For constant practice, I can't think of any place better for him than RvB. However, he will need to actively review his fights and work to correct any bad habits that he may develop. All solo pvpers need to be very critical of their own performance, as, ultimately, they are the only person that will push them to do better. We are our own coaches, and we have nobody else to blame if we fail to perform satisfactorily.

Course feedback (student):

A recent hurricane has meant Manu has been unable to send me any detailed feedback. However, in his verbal feedback, he told me that the course had really opened his eyes to how much was actually happening during a fight. We had delved deeply into the various mechanics of the fight, as well as basic manual piloting, and there was so much more to pvp than "orbit + F1".

Final recommendations:

I'm glad that Manu found the course useful, and I hope that he finds my post-fight analysis helpful too, when he can read it. I would also encourage him to continue with pvp, as he clearly enjoys it. While I have focused on the challenges Manu faces, he should not feel that he is in any way behind the curve. All he has to do is look at some early posts on this blog to see that I had far, far more to learn than Manu does when I was three weeks old.


  1. I don't think you can take out the approach part of the course. If he comes across a bigger ship without doing the correct approach, he's instantly dead regardless of skills, but with the approach, even if he does take damage, maybe he can stick around long enough to hold point long enough for his fleet to kill the target.

  2. Depends on how low-skilled and how new the learner is. Manu didn't die because of his approach. If the learning curve is still on the "activate your relevant modules while fighting" grade, you may stress the learning engine by asking for a shift into "situational awareness at all times" gear.

    The simple truth (that I think the blog host and the commenter will agree with) is that you're going to lose ships learning the game no matter what. Whether it's reason "A" or reason "B" that you died the first time is irrelevant. The hope is that by the time you get to reason "J.2(b)(iii)(m)" for dieing that you've broken the "B" reason habit.

    Sounds like a worthy project, and I wish you continued success.

  3. I enjoyed reading that, I have been in the game a little while now and have gotten kills with my corp when in a fleet (mainly on kill mails rather than final blow) and I have always wanted to do a little solo PVP but don’t really know much about the why’s and wherefors, so this gave some good insight.

  4. Well, I have to say that you and Manu have inspired me to get into PvP a bit more. I've been a carebear for a year now, not doing much else but mining and mission running.

    I've taken a couple trips into lowsec, but I've never been able to find anything to fight, or more recently, anyone willing to fight me. There's a Drake pilot who consistently camps the lowsec gate I've been using the past few days, but he apparently does not want to mess with me.

    I recently purchased a 78 mil skillpoint Amarr toon completely focused on PvP. I've got the money to buy and fit as many frigates as I could ever need. I still need standings for jump clones, but after that, it will be time to pew pew a whole lot more.