Back in October I was contacted by Syn about my pvp crash course. He described himself below:
Ive had an eve account since 2010, and jsut recently got back into the game after a year + break. During the times ive been playing, ive been running missions or doing WH's with my corp, Every time i start a mission or wh, i want to smash my head on my keyboard, they're sooooo boring and i know this game has more to offer.
I want to learn to pvp, i love pvp and mainly pvp in every MMO ive ever player. Im a military shift worker with another kid on the way and my play time is limited. I want to learn the ins and outs of pvp and how to fly ships properly.
Clearly, Syn has some EvE experience - probably a lot more than me when it comes to wormholes, in fact. But he wants to break out of his current routine and learn some pvp. That seemed like a worthy goal, and I liked the fact that he'd jumped right in to W space, which has always seemed like the elite end of the carebear swimming pool.
We initially set up the course for early December, but a personal matter meant Syn needed to reschedule to January. With his training focusing on Amarr, I decided that the Punisher was probably the best ship for the course, so I sent him some fits and a lists of supplies, which he duly moved to Ranellies.
We went through what has become the standard course structure, starting with brawling and kiting ships, moving up to cruisers, and then finally a battle cruiser before ending the lesson with a 1v1. We did touch on D-scan, but differences in time zone meant that I was very conscious that we had a limited window for the course.
As in previous lessons, Syn knew my 1v1 fit ahead of time, and we discussed the pro's and con's of my brawling Condor v his Punisher. I pointed out that I would probably have better control of the range, having a web, unless he decided to use his neut to shut down my mids. Unfortunately, neuting me out would only shut down my mids, and with cap-less weapons and no active tank this came at a price for Syn, as it would limit his own ability to run his repair system.
On the other hand, my ship is cap stable with the neut running, so active tanking was likely to be limited in any event. Syn was going to need to decide how to play this fight.
For my part, I considered the Punisher's excellent ability to project damage right into my worst resists. I could probably hold Syn at range if I wanted to, but I was not sure that I could wear down his active tank faster than he would tear down my buffer.
Instead, I decided to try and take advantage of his poor tracking by getting in really, really close. I'd also use my neut to shut down his tank. Of course, if Syn's tracking were better than I expected, I'd simply get a face full of Navy Multifrequency, and I'd be too close to disengage.
0:41 - I warp to the agreed fight location (local was quite busy, so we used a safe), and see Syn at about 60km. I simply hit 500m orbit, as this is the fastest way to get under his guns - spiraling in will just give him more time to hit me.
0:44 - I preheat my guns - this is going to have to be fast and furious.
1:12 - After a period of just motoring towards each other, I start to target Syn at a range of about 20km.
1:18 - Syn's inexperience with pvp shows itself here; I've already opened fire on him (we are about 7.5km apart), and he's only just started to target me. The approach was his best opportunity to get some solid hits, and he's let the opportunity pass.
1:24 - Syn rallies, and has the presence of mind to start his guns before he activates his point. He lands two very solid hits and then a penetrating hit as I close the distance to 300m. If that kind of punishment keeps up, I'm going home in a pod. However, my web is active, and Syn's speed has droped to 266km/s; I've got complete range control.
1:30 - I'm still getting hit, but it's a grazing hit. I'm also getting into Syn's armor now, so I'm actually doing damage. In what was probably a mistake, I've not activated my neut yet. I quickly move to correct that oversight.
1:38 - My tactics start to pay off as Syn's damage drops through the floor. However, my accumulated heat is nearly at maximum, and I honestly can't believe how little heat damage my launchers have taken. My lucky day, I guess.
1:53 - The fight has swung heavily in my favour, and I'm half way through Syn's tank. He's trying to counter neut me, which is smart (without that, I can just perma run the neut), but it means he can't use his repair system.
2:11 - My high slots are redlined, and I'm swimming in heat damage. I've been on overload for about a minute and a half. Only perfect Thermodynamics skills are keeping me in this fight. On the other hand, my damage has just spiked, so I've probably neuted out Syn's damage control. Whenever I fight Punishers I'm reminded just how damn tough they are.
2:16 - The Punisher finally explodes, and Syn get's his pod out. Well fought!
This was an excellent fight, but one that really underscores how understanding your way through the fight is so much more important twitch reflexes in this game. As far as I can tell, both Syn and I simply hit "orbit" and focused on our modules through most of the fight - fancy piloting was never going to play a role in this matchup.
As it happens, my combination of fit and tactics beat Syn's combination of fit and tactics. If I'd stayed at range, Syn would have pulverised me. If he'd fit tracking rigs & Gatlings, he would have mauled me in close. If he'd had a nos instead of a neut, he would have lasted longer (although probably still exploded). The decisions we both made before the battle played the biggest role in deciding who got to fly their ship home.
Of course, it's not too helpful to simply say "my fit beat your fit", and I'll try and suggest what I might have tried if the roles were reversed.
First, I would have made the Condor chase me, maximising the solid hit's I'd get on the approach. I'd definitely have preheated my guns and targeted early, just to make sure I was getting every last ounce of damage out of that phase of the fight. I might have been tempted to overload my prop mod for as long as possible too, as that would have kept the initial damage from the Condor lower.
Once I saw that the Condor was under my guns, I'd have aligned to a celestial to try and get the tracking down as low as possible, while probably turning off the overload on my guns. I'd try to rep us as much damage as I could while I still had cap, and then use my neut to try and counter neut - getting the Condor to drop the web would create another chase, bringing the tracking right down.
Would that have been enough? I don't know. That Condor would know it had been kissed, though.
Course feedback (instructor):
What stood out about Syn was his interest in ship fittings. Unlike my other student's, Syn brought four Punishers that were all rigged slightly differently, as he wanted to get a feel for the difference that these changes made. That meant we were able to compare Trimark Punishers to dps Punishers on a couple of exercises, which I hope Syn found useful.
Given the importance ship fittings it solo pvp, I'd encourage Syn to continue focusing on that part of his pvp. His natural curiosity may well lead him to be that rarest of pvpers - one that actually creates new and decent fits! Once he pins down his preferred flying style, I suspect his ships will be models of efficiency.
Like anyone new to pvp, Syn also needs to turn what he knows intellectually into habits, so that in the heat of combat things are happening automatically. From little things like targeting early to understanding the best ways to pilot to maximise your dps (or minimise the other guy's), all these factors add up. The best way of doing that, of course, is to get out there and find some fights.
Course feedback (student):
Thanks for the lessons, i learned quite a bit from them, especially with regards to my own skills, and the limitations of amarr ships and capacitor. Definitly see were i need to improve on my navigation skills and how i approach different encounters.
The lessons were well laid out and flowed into one another, so it was a build on to previous lessons. Some lessons could have been a bit longer, but shortness in most cases were due to my ship going pop. The kit list for the fittings is good, but as we discussed, atleast one NOS needs to be added to the list and maybe nanite paste to reduce time to and from station to repair burnt out gear.
Hopefully in the future we can try this again and hopefully i can come out of it with atleast one win.
Thanks and fly safe
Syn's absolutely right about the nos; I should have included at least one nos fitting on the list of ships, and that was an oversight on my part. It would also have allowed Syn to run his active tank longer on some exercises (like the drone swatting), which would have probably addressed the issue of having more time. When coming up with the base fits, I'm usually trying to get the ships to illustrate certain teaching points, and in this case I didn't consider the simple logistics of how long the tank would run without the nos.
If Syn came out of this with a better understanding of the weaknesses of Amarr ships, then I'm glad. Of course, learning about the strengths of Amarr ships won't happen until he tries something else and watches it disintegrate in 20 seconds, rather than stand up to perfect skilled, overloaded missile launchers for a minute and a half! That's always the way, though; we always focus on the shortcomings of whatever we're flying, because those are the things the kill us.
I wish Syn the best of luck with his future pvp, and encourage him to get out there and fight the good fight!