The other posts I have made in this series have focused on how to fit your ship effectively for PvP. In this article, I'm going to focus on something a little less tangible, but even more important: having a plan for when things go wrong.
Every effective PvP ship has a optimal strategy - a Plan A, if you will. Ships have preferred targets, ideal ranges to engage and weapon types that lend themselves to a particular style of combat. For example, if you are flying a heavily-tanked, short-range Blaster Thorax (a Blorax?), your plan probably looks like:
BLASTER THORAX STRATEGY
- Find a target.
- Use microwarp drive to get to point blank range.
- Turn on the blasters and webbifiers.
In my experience, PvP pilots - regardless of experience level - rarely have difficulty coming up with their "Plan A" strategy. With just a little bit of experience designing ships - or just borrowing a fit from someone else - and you are usually ready to go and find your first few kills. And as long as your Plan A continues to work, and you only run into ships and pilots that your ship is designed well against, you will keep making kills and might even start to think of yourself as a great pilot.
And then... you run into a situation your Plan A didn't anticipate. Maybe you jump into a nullsec system and see five angry pilots hovering around the gate. Perhaps that nice, fat ratting ship you were about to pirate turns on you and activates a warp disruptor. Maybe you are about to finish off a kill when two more pilots jump in and target you.
For new pilots, an encounter with the unexpected is almost always fatal. Panic sets in, they scramble to do something - anything - to stem the damage, frantically pressing buttons until they are sitting in their pod next to the ruins of their once-proud ship, wondering what went wrong. All too often we see them later on forums or Reddit complaining about the how the game is too hardcore, the griefers are too mean or the ship that beat them is overpowered. But the reality is that the real problem isn't with the game, or their opponents, but with their own mindset - they failed to consider what would happen if their Plan A didn't work.
The mark of an excellent PvP pilot is that they always have a Plan B. They know from experience what they will do if they encounter the unexpected. As a result, they are frequently able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat, or, at least, escape to fight another day. These pilots won't just have a lot a kills on their combat log - any pilot with enough time and a Plan A can get kills - they will stand out by having very few losses.
Before you hop in your next combat ship - hell, before you even BUY your next ship - run through this checklist and think through how you will deal with the following scenarios. As you work through the list, if you find yourself stumped on multiple scenarios, then you may need to reconsider your build, strategy or even ship selection.
PLAN B CHECKLIST: What will I do if I encounter:
- A fast opponent that attempts to kite
- A gatecamp
- Unexpected reinforcements join the fight
- A fast opponent that attempts to speed tank up close
- An opponent that LOOKED like a PvE pilot, but is fit for PvP
- An opponent is fit with nosferatu/neutralizer/webbifier/drones
- An enemy that starts out at point-blank range (sitting on the warp point)
- Opponent is more heavily tanked than you expected
- Opponent does more damage that you expected
- Opponent's modules (disruptors, webs, nosferatu, weapons) have longer than typical range.
I hope these scenarios help you as you plan your next PvP build and that the few minutes you spend thinking through these less-than-ideal circumstances will help you avoid disaster out in a dangerous galaxy.
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