As a pirate, I hear my fair share of complaints from my... "customers" as I ply my murderous trade. One of the most common - and irritating - gripes that fill my private messages is "WAH!! Why did you kill my poor, defenseless PvE ship!!!!" or something to that effect (sometimes they don't type the whining baby noises, but it's implied). After listening to this objection to my line of work for the three hundredth time, I thought it would be appropriate for me to offer some advice:
EVERY SHIP IS A PVP SHIP
In EVE, the moment you leave highsec you are consenting to PvP. It doesn't matter if you are heading there to mine, to pick up your planetary mining, to rat in a belt or to hunt those who do. It doesn't matter if you are in a faction-fitted battlecruiser, an Imicus Cov-Ops or an Omen Navy that for some reason is fitted with mining lasers. If you are in lowsec or nullsec, you are in a PvP zone. And thus, whatever ship you decided to cart your carcass around is a PvP ship - whether you like it or not.
Once you leave highsec, there are no "PvE Ships." There are ships that are prepared for PvP and those that aren't.
Before I go any further, let me address the furious PvE apologist in the back before he vomits all over the comment section. When I say that your ship is a PvP ship, that doesn't mean that it has to be fitted like a pirate ship, or even that it has to have weapons on it.
In EVE, PvP comes in many forms, and has a variety of objectives. Some (like me) enter PvP to hunt targets and collect their loot. Other pilots head to lowsec to mine or rat while avoiding people like me. "Prepared for PvP" doesn't mean "prepared to kill" - it just means that you are fitted and ready to enter an area where PvP is not just permitted, but expected.
FITTING FOR PVP
How do you fit for PvP? Well, first figure out where the PvP is likely to happen, and what your objective is. Are you fitting a retriever to mine in lowsec? Then you know that PvP is likely to happen in a belt, and that your goal will be to escape as quickly as possible. So, in addition to your typical mining equipment, toss on an 'Aura' Warp Stablizer or even consider a cloaking device. Will you be ratting? PvP is most likely to happen in an anomaly. What tools will help give you the best chance of survival? Perhaps you should consider flying a smaller, speed-tanked ship that will let you outrun your opponents and align to warp more quickly. Or, since you are flying a ship with decent tank and DPS, you can consider fitting it with a warp scrambler, webs, neutralizer or MWD to make you more likely to prevail in a fight (or at least scare a ganker off)!
Above all, your ship should be affordable. No one should fly a PvP ship they can't afford to lose - in fact, you should plan to bring the cheapest ship that can get the job done. Rather than bring a 500mil isk Prophecy to hunt that T5 anomaly, take a Vexor. Instead of fitting T2 rigs on that Retriever, settle for the cheaper (but still effective) T1. No PvP ship lasts forever - make sure whatever ship you bring to a PvP area will be profitable even if you lose it every once in a while.
In addition to fitting your ship with PvP in the back of your mind, you should fly your ship fully aware that PvP could happen at any moment. That means you need to be alert - watch your overview, keep an eye on local and don't browse the market or look away while you are hanging in a belt. The surest way to die in PvP is to not be paying attention when it happens.
Additionally, having a PvP mindset also means taking precautions - don't hang around the warp in point, set your autopilot to a safe point and align your ship to it. Read my Carebear's Guide and do the opposite of all the stuff I said (it was sarcastic for Jove's sake). Being safe while ratting or mining in a PvP area is a bit inconvenient, and might make you a bit less efficient than if you were in highsec. But the rewards - and your ship - are worth taking the few extra seconds to be prepared to the inevitable pirate who comes looking for you.
SOMETIMES, YOU LOSE
Finally, know that when you fly a ship into a PvP area, you are going to lose sometimes. No matter who careful you are, you will find pilots who will outsmart you. No matter how well you fit your ship, there will always be a bigger fish ready to gobble you up. Even the most diligent pilot will make mistakes, and will pay for them.
When this happens, you might be tempted to rage, scream and fill local with lengthy diatribes against the person who won. Resist that urge - that is the reaction of a petulant child, not someone who knew the risks when they jumped into a PvP zone. Instead, be a good sport, congratulate your opponent on a good fight and - most importantly - learn from the experience. Figure out what you did wrong and what you can do better next time. In fact, you might even ask your opponent what you could do better. If you can avoid calling your their parentage into dispute, they'll probably tell you - after all, they should know better than anyone how they caught you.
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