Knowledge is Killmails

Sir Francis Bacon coined the phrase “knowledge is power” in 1597. Little did Sir Bacon know that it would remain true four centuries later, in an internet spaceships simulator called EVE Online. It is easy to understand how the saying comes into play in market trading, larger industrial operations or political maneuvering, where knowledge is the obvious key component. It is often overlooked however, how crucial personal knowledge is in lowsec PvP. It is a weapon that trumps every ship, module and character skill in the game, and its absence is, by far, the most common mistake pilots make.

Check yourself, before you wreck yourself

“You better check yo self before you wreck yo self , cos I’m bad for your health, I come real stealth” – Ice Cube, Check Yo Self
Sure, knowing stuff is good, but how does it help me in lowsec PvP? If I had used a Sun Tzu quote beside this paragraph, instead of the Ice Cube, it would have read “Know your enemy, know yourself”. In essence, the singularly most important skill in lowsec PvP is knowing the ships: how they are fit, how they are flown. Being able to recall their essential strengths and weaknesses in an instant is the hallmark of a veteran PvP-er who is at home in any situation. He who knows before his opponent can also act before his opponent, and has the immediate advantage in lowsec, where things tend to happen fast and deadly. Often it comes down to looking at a list of ship types on D-scan or in your own fleet. A person who can quickly identify the engagement profiles of ships can also abstractly predict how an engagement would play out. This allows them to make decisions ahead of time, like a chess player. They are also capable, by identifying and recognising tendencies during a fight (i.e. understanding how ships are flown, see above), to predict how the fight is going and how they should alter their strategy. A simple example: Pilot A is in a Daredevil and engages pilot B in a Tristan. All pilot A knows is that his Daredevil does a shitload of damage and the only thing on his mind is to get close and blast away – he loads Void ammo and charges in. Pilot B however, knows that most Daredevils are blaster fit and that blasters use up a fair bit of capacitor, he decides to take the fight in his neut-fit Tristan. Pilot B’s ship does less than half the DPS the Daredevil does, but he knows that blasters do kinetic and thermal damage, for which his fit happens to have good resists and the buffer tank to take the burst damage. He calculates that his EHP will last long enough to neut the Daredevil dry while his drones pick the more expensive frigate apart.

We don’t need no education

Fighting is fun, learning isn’t. Although often recommended to those new to lowsec PvP, and certainly not without merit, “learning by dying” works much better when combined with learning by reading. Trial and error tend to hammer the lessons home because of the element of failure and loss, but much frustration, time and effort can be saved with theoretical knowledge. The most fundamental way of learning the strengths and weaknesses of ships is simply by reading and memorising their traits and bonuses. Learning to associate their names with a set of key traits is a good foundation. Exceptions exist, but most ships are fit and consequently flown in only a handful of ways, determined by their bonuses. Understanding these stereotypes is the key to exploiting their weaknesses and countering them, or avoiding fights where the enemy has the upper hand from the start. All ships have a weakness. Even Ishtars. Apart from the ships themselves it is important to understand how modules work and what their limitations are. An armor repairer relies on capacitor for example, making an energy neutraliser a good counter. Energy weapons have excellent damage but poor falloff, avoiding the optimal ranges is a good counter in that instance. Prior knowledge of how modules work is often the key to victory or defeat.

Walk a mile in their shoes

A common mistake pilots make is that they get very familiar with the ships they like to fly, and ignore the ones they don’t, creating an obvious weakness. As my BJJ coach would tell you (to use a fighting analogy), the best training is drilling things you’re not good at. At the very least it gives you an understanding of the technique and the ability to know when it’s coming. It is a good investment to fit and fly ships you are unfamiliar with and at least try to perform their basic roles in a couple of fights. So the next time you see that ship on scan or on grid, you understand what the enemy pilot is probably trying to do. Another excellent way to gain the upper hand is to study enemy lossmails (zKillboard, Eve-Kill etc.). More often than not, people will be flying the same fit again. Being able to associate a ship type and a pilot’s name with a fit is the best kind of knowledge. Keeping track of common enemies by checking their corp and alliance ticker allows the observant PvP-er to learn behavioural patterns that can then be used to their advantage. Some groups rely heavily on EWAR for instance, others often fit artillery to a certain type of ship perhaps, yet others have may have numbers but don’t target call well. Being able to make an educated guess about the enemy strategy and potential weakness by seeing ship types and an alliance ticker is a powerful advantage. The Pirate’s Little Helper is an excellent tool for quickly ascertaining the situation in a system, give it a try.

Knowing is half the battle

Spending some time to understand the tools used in lowsec PvP goes a long way towards becoming a good PvP pilot, able to react to situations as they develop and keep a cool head in order to make informed decisions. So before you can crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women, do your homework.
Tags: lowlife, lowsec, niden, pvp

About the author


12 year EVE veteran, Snuffed Out scumbag, writer, graphic artist, producer, Editor-in-Chief of Crossing Zebras and the second most influential player in EVE, according to EVE Onion.