Tuesday, April 3, 2012

One Dimensional PVP: The Lost Art of Tactics

When I was a very young EVE player, I had the advantage of joining a small, tight-knit old school pvp corp that was known for taking very small gangs successfully against rather large ones. Sometimes we roamed 0.0, and sometimes we wardecced large alliances to get targets.

I don't remember all the details about everything that we did, but I remember two primary things that they taught me during that time:

1. You don't fly things you can't fly well. They were very adament about this--even strict about it. Being newer, I flew a lot of caracals and blackbirds during this time.

2. Tactics and skill can trump brute force and numbers. Every time. It wasn't just a theoretical idea to us. We lived it every day.

In many ways, I feel that the old-school multidimensional tactic based pvp has been somewhat lost. Going up against 'larger numbers' usually means that your 9 man gang ran into a 10 man gang. 'Tactics' usually translates to using guardians, or having a falcon on field. Or flying kitey, range ships as a gang vs landing at 0 and killing your target in the face.

In those days--in that corp--everyone in our gang was important because we simply didn't have that many to work with. Everyone fit into 'the plan' somehow, and as a result, our 5 man gangs would often deal serious damage to much, much larger fleets.

So, what has changed?

First, I think that with tools such as EFT, etc., a lot of analysis has been done to get the maximum benefit out of fittings, and as a result, there is a different attitude toward the 'right' and 'wrong' way to fit things. In other words, we're a lot less creative. I remember swapping things out of my ship, and fitting things all different ways to counter certain situations. Back then, the 'right' way to fit your ship was whatever way you needed it fit in order to get a job done. Now, when I buy a new ship, there's usually only 1 or 2 ways I fit it, based on certain 'standards.'

I'm not saying EFTing is wrong. However, I think that the use of it, and other tools, has resulted in certain 'attitudes' toward fittings in general.

Second, I think that a lot of the GMs shy away from extremes now. Anything regarded as 'too good' or 'too overpowered' seems to get nerfed. Perhaps I only see it this way because as a new player everything seems to look 'big' and my view has extremely changed since I was flying caracals and blackbirds in that pvp corp. For some reason, I remember a lot more extremes. Not any one thing, but everything in general.

Now, it seems that instead of taking advantage of bonuses, and pushing ships and modules to their limit, we rely more upon countering things with numbers and brute force. Perhaps game mechanics--particularly the trend of ships and modules becoming somewhat standard and bland-- encourage this a bit.

Overall, I miss those old times in many ways. I miss the adrenaline of being an important link in the tactic chain, rather then another body in another dps ship. I miss having to do more then warping in, activate mods, shooting 'primaries' and etc.

I miss....flying, in general--skirting around an enemy, feeding off others in my gang, and knowing that it's me that's keeping me alive -- not just my EHP or whether or not the enemy chooses to primary me in a face to face slug fest.

I recently bought FRAPS, and pointed out to a corpy an odd habit I noticed of myself when I played back some of the video footage. "I spin my ship during battles. In the heat of it all, while primaries are called and I risk dying, I spin my ship. It makes me dizzy to watch sometimes."

His reply:

"You probably spin your ship in battle because you're bored."


  1. Do you have any examples of such tactics? Or are you talking about pre-NanoNerf PvP and calling it "skill?"

  2. What has changed is that you can't rely on every pilot being at the skill level (and I mean PvP skill, not Eve skills) to handle anything more than shoot the primary and call for reps.

    Which is sad. I'm always working on dragging the fight off the gate and then people complain the fight is too far off. Guess I should sit still more while fighting.

  3. @Kuan, I think its more a general appreciation that the general skill level in fights has gone up significantly. There is much less of the bumblefuckery that was so 'good' back in the day.

  4. I don't think it's necessarily EFT that's the problem, it's probably more the "min-max" mindset that so dominates these days. If it's not "optimal", it's shit. :-/

    \o/ Yay black/white mindsets and all.

  5. Blobbing and standard fits are simply the easiest tactics for most inexperienced FCs and PVPers. Outnumbering your opponent by a factor of 2 or more is pretty much a guaranteed way to win, assuming that both forces are using the same basic "call primary" and "focus fire" tactics, as well as the same fleet composition and fits.

    Tactics and skills, as well as strategy, still have their place in the game, esp. when attempting to beat superior numbers. But, they require that you actually plan ahead and fly as a team. This means having an experienced FC, and a group of players who are willing to put in the time and effort to practice. Coordination and confidence in your teammates are essential. You need to do research on your potential opponents - what ships they fly, how they fit their ships, how their FCs think, and how their pilots perform together.

    In this, Eve is actually no different than any other combat situation - game, simulation, or RL.

    It sounds like you were fortunate enough to belong to a group of good tactical/strategic players when you started your Eve career. There are undoubtedly still several groups of these types of players roaming around, which you can join, or you can try forming your own group. These folks are easy to identify, since they are the ones successfully trying out non-standard fits and unusual fleet compositions.

    Unfortunately, the CCP devs seem to be hell-bent on moving away from generic "tier" ships to specialized "role" ships. This means that standard fits will be even more the norm, since CCP devs will be deciding how each ship's specs should be tweaked, in order to perform within each role, and how each ship's role will fit within a fleet. The ability to create unusual and out-of-the-box fits will be strictly constrained, in order to avoid any particular ship within a "role" having an advantage over any other ship in the same "role".

    Creative thinking will take a hit, in favor of the more simplistic "my fleet is bigger than yours" strategy.... :P

  6. I think it's because fights have gotten so much bigger. In Eve you don't have FCs that are REMFs. They are right there with you getting shot at while simultaneously directing the fight. Which is not easy once you start throwing fleets of 100 or more around with wide variety of ranges and fits. So they boil it down to standard fits. This in turn trickles down to smaller gangs because if they ever want to be part of those big fights they have known training paths to get there. The nature of eve's skill system becomes a tax on players at that point. You can't train for non-standard but interesting fits and reach the goal of being involved in big fights.

    Caps online has also hurt this. I've been all by my lonesome in a system, have a NBSI gate in, light a cyno, and drop a titan on me. No fleet, just a single titan. Trade in effective taunts for awhile, then cyno right back out. I personally have no want to muck around with things I know work when people start using titans as bait ships. The level of force multiplication becomes staggeringly unbalanced fast, and weird but interesting stuff just won't work.

  7. Before EFT and "standards", most people were extremely ineffective. Your 5-man gang could defeat 10 men in terribly fitted ships, being oblivious to optimal ranges and such.

    Nowdays the chances of bumping into such easy targets is near impossible. The difference between the "best" ship and the average ship flied by John Doe is 10-20% since John can google up the good fit.

    In other words: you used to beat up kiddies in the yard. They grew up so you need superior numbers to do it again.

  8. This really sounds like nostalgia talking in this post to me. Personally, I think if you want that challenge back and not the "target primary, press button" fights, you need to change what you are doing. My two cents.

  9. Evolution happens everywhere even in Eve.

    People adapt, fleets get larger, your opponents smarter and that changes the game.

    Outnumbering your opponent is just another tactic to win, it so happens to be successful.

    If you want challenge back in fights you have the power to to that.
    Take that 5 man gang and attack a 10 man gang if you win you can try harder, larger fleets.

  10. I don't know if this counts, but in Curse region I have seen big fleets come in and the small gang inhabitants take out all the enemies tackle so the big fleet has to turn around and go home.

    Sounds like small gangs taking on bigger fleets using skills and tactics.

  11. I can agree about the 'standards' issue. I have a warp stabbed shield buffer bomber with no torps that I like to fly when doing actual bombing 'on the fly', ie I don't have a good bombing spot set up. People ridicule the fit and idea of bombing without having everything lined up, but that's the whole point of the fit, to circumvent that.

    Sure, I've got not DPS and no torps, and my lock speed is shit, and sig radius is a tad bigger than without the buffer, but I have a much better chance of escaping tacklers and can launch my bombs from anywhere and still warp out still in shields (most of the time). If I'd tried anything like this in a 'standard' bomber, I would die 100% of the time.

    So it's just as you say (at least in some cases), people are relying on standards instead of thinking.

    1. What you are describing is a standard bomber "bombing" fit used by most alliances. It's really hard to get away from standards...they exit because they are good.