. PVP in EVE Online « Torchwood Archives
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PVP in EVE Online

This text is aimed at players new to EVE Online. For polish version please go to mmogamer.pl

The name EVE Online, even though written in capitals, is not an acronym. If you ask any player however, what this abbreviation could mean, you will most likely hear „everyone-vs-everyone”. EVE Online is strictly a PVP game, which does not mean there is no PVE in it – killing NPCs is one of the ways to fund PVP endavours. What's most important, is consequence. PVP in EVE always has some consequences, which in turn brings lots of emotions.

Catch me first

To kill a prey, it has to be caught first (stopping a ship is called 'tackling'). This is easy, if your ship has the right gear for the job. Warp Disruptors and Stasis Webifiers can be used to shut down target's warp engines and then reduce its sublight speed. If the attacked ship is not tackled, it will warp right away to a stargate, planet or any other celestial. Warp Disruptors do not affect sublight speed, so if the attacked ship moves outside of the disruptor range, it will be able to warp away. To make this kind of escape impossible, another module is necessary. Stasis Webifier slows its target down by 50-60%, which makes escape a lot more difficult.

Modules used to tackle other ships are summed up below:

Range Warp drive effect Sublight drive effect Microwarpdrive module effect
Warp Scrambler 7,5 - 9 km Scramble strength x2 N/A Shut down
Warp Disruptor 20-24 km Scramble strength x1 N/A N/A
Stasis Webifier 10 km N/A Speed reduced by 50-60% Speed reduced by 50-60%

As for every game mechanic in EVE, there is a counter. Warp Core Stabilizer can be used to make the ship immune to warp scrambling. Each module if this kind is reducing the Scramble strength by one. According to the table above,to counter the Warp Scrambler module, ship needs to have two WCS fitted. These modules have a drwaback: they reduce the offensive capabilities of a ship by a wide margin, so players do not use them on ships fitted for PVP.

PVP is everywhere, it is all around us

Each solar system in New Eden has a specific Security Status, which divides the game into three main zones. Different rules apply for each zone.

Agression flag Global criminal flag Security Status penalty CONCORD response Kill rights
High sec (0.5-1.0) x x x x x
Low sec (0.1-0.4) x x x x
Null sec (0.0) x
War (everywhere) x

According to the above table, the main form of PVP in high-sec systems are corporation wars (members of corporations at war can shoot each other without penalties anywhere in the game), jet-can flipping ambush and suicide ganks.

PVP engagement in Iges system

PVP engagement in Iges system

Real  PVP starts in low-security systems, because there is no CONCORD to protect the players. Attacking a player in low-sec still has some consequences: attacker's security status is reduced, and if there are Sentry Guns in the vincinity (usually around stargates and stations), they will immediately start shooting the agressor. A well tanked ship should however easily survive sentry gun fire.

The place where real men (and women) play EVE and hit each other without consequences is on the rim of the New Eden galaxy. Null sec offers much broader set of tools, that can't be used anywhere else in the game. Players can anchor and use stationary Warp Disrupion Field Generators, in short "bubbles". These deadly traps are usually set near a stargate, in line with other gates or celestials, so each ship warping from them will land inside the bubble, instead of the gate. Non-targeted interdiction cannot be countered with Warp Core Stabilizers! Similar mobile solutions also exist: Interdictor class ships can deploy warp disruption probes, and Heavy Interdictor ships can generate a mobile warp disruption field which is centered on the ship.

Rules and mechanics: combat flags

To excell in player-versus-player combat, it is necessary to know the rules of engagement. These rules can seem complicated at first, but all it takes to master them is some practice.

All actions against another player or his assets will lead to being flagged:

  • using any offensive module or weapon (guns, launchers, ECM or warp scrambling) always flags for 15 minutes aggression,
  • using logistic modules (remote armor repair, remote shield transfer) flags against target's opponents,
  • stealing loot from wrecks or containers belonging to anotherp layer result in 15 minute thief flag.

Agressin flag causes a 60 second cooldown when trying to dock or jump through a stargate. If a player logs out during agression flag, his ship will warp to a random spot  1 million km away, but will remain in game until flag wears off. Such a ship can be located using scan probes and subsequently destroyed. Capsule will again try to warp to a random spot and can also be destroyed. After 15 minutes of remaining logged out, flagged ship or capsule vanishes from the game.

If agression takes place in high sec or low sec system, attacker receives a 15 minutes Global Criminal flag, and receives a penalty to security status. This flag is displayed on red background with a small skull symbol on pilot's portrait and ship. A pilot with Global Criminal flag can be freely attacked by anyone without CONCORD response. This flag does not exist in null sec.

Getting global criminal in high sec always results in CONCORD NPC police spawn, which destroys the attacker's ship. This penalty is inevitable and is part of the game mechanic (avoiding CONCORD is considered an exploit by the GMs). Regardless of the tank and ship size, after few seconds since first CONCORD vessel spawns, offenders ship explodes. It is worth to notice that both CONCORD spawn and their attack is not immediate. The delay depends on the systems security status.

Global Criminal flag is also not applied to pilots belonging to corporations at war.

If  a player with Global Criminal flag manages to destroy a ship, another security status penalty is applied. This penalty depends on ship size, security status of the attacker and security status of the defender.  If the defender does not fire back during an engagement and loses a ship, he receives kill rights on the attacker(s), which allows him to attack and destroy the offenders ship during the next 30 days. Kill rights do not allow destroying the escape pod ("pod killing").

Players, whose security status drops below -5.0 can be freely attacked by anyone, regardless of place and time, just as if they had global criminal flag. Pirates are not welcome to high security systems, where they are automatically chased by the NPCs:

PVP action in Bosboger system
PVP action in Bosboger system

-2.0 cannot enter 1.0 systems
-2.5 cannot enter 0.9 systems
-3.0 cannot enter 0.8 systems
-3.5 cannot enter 0.7 systems
-4.0 cannot enter 0.6 systems
-4.5 cannot enter 0.5 systems
-5.0 can be attacked anywhere

Small gangs

The most popular form of PVP in low-sec are small gangs from few to several ships. Remote-Repair fitted battleships are a very common sight. This form of tank is sometimes called Spider Tank: Ships are fitted with a huge HP buffer and Remote Repair modules. When one of the fleet members takes damage, other ships repair it. This way they can prevent much more damage than local repair modules. The HP buffer (for example Armor Plates or Shield Extenders) gives pilots enough time to lock on and repair other fleet members.

Another very popular type of fleet is a HAC/BC fleet. These ships are generally smaller and much more mobile than a Battleship fleet, allowing more dynamic engagements.

Fleet warfare

Huge fleets of multiple ships and long range weaponry are usually seen deep in 0.0 and sometimes in low sec (for example during POS siege). Strength if this type of fleet is its numbers. Enemy ships chosen by the fleet commander usually don't have much time to react once they have been called primary, because one volley from a hundred ships is more than enough to destroy most ships in the game.

Group of capital ships

Group of capital ships

Capital warfare

Capital fleets consist mostly of the biggest vessels in EVE: Dreadnoughts, Carriers, Supercarriers and Titans. This kind of fleet usually has a group of Battleships, HACs and Logistics as so called "Support" to fend off smaller ships. This kind of fleet has enough firepower to annihilate everything, including player-owned starbases.

Faction warfare

Four NPC empires are fighiting for domination in low sec, employing pod pilots to achieve that goal. The rules of Factional Warfare are not much different from regular war between player-run corporations. Fleets fighting in Faction Warfare usually consists of random people. Killing players aligned with the factional enemy is the only way to earn Loyalty Points with faction militia corporations, whose Loyalty Point Stores contain unique ships (Faction Tier-1 Battleships) and modules.

Suicide ganking

Suicide attacks in high-secuirty systems are possible, because it takes several seconds for CONCORD ships to arrive. During this timeframe a properly fitted ship (or group of ships) can deal enough damage to destroy their target. Some pirates use this approach to steal expensive modules or cargo, because 50% of fittings and cargohold are randomly placed in shipwrecks. There are also pilots who do this just for fun - one of the pirate celebrities, Helicity Boson was* running a recurring event called "Hulkageddon". The goal of this game was to destroy as many Exhumer class vessels as possible (later more ship classess was added to the event, including Orca industrial command ships, Industrials and Freighters).

*) Helicity Boson has been banned in 2011 by the CCP during "Monoclegate"

Solo PVP

Most players believe that there is no such thing in EVE as "solo PVP". I will however defend the statment, that "sometimes there is opportunity to kill other players solo". In contrast to other MMO games, there is no mechanic in EVE which would allow duels. It is always possible for other players to join the fight, and duels usually end up being five-on-one (or more) engagements. To win such battle, or just survive it, it is necessary to have lots of in-game skillpoints and just as much out-of-character experience. The best proof, that solo PVP does exist in EVE are movies made by well-known EVE celebrities. I really recommend watching the "FRIGANK" series created by Prometheus Exenthal.


Most players, who are already accustomed to PVE activities need to learn some new tools, which are not used against NPCs. The most important one is the Directional Scanner, which is basically a radar showing if there are any player controlled ships or probes around (or in a specific direction - hence the name Directional). Directional Scanner has two settings: range (from 0 to 14,5 AU) and angle (15 degrees up to 360 degrees). After running the scan, player receives a list of objects meeting the criteria. Note: direction of the scan is the one of the camera and not the heading of the ship itself. Directional Scanner is very useful to tell if there are potential victims (or attackers) nearby. It will also inform about Scanner Probes in space, so it works as an early warning system.

Another out-of-character skill very useful for PVP is speaking english. Granted, it is possible to work with other players speaking the same language, but english is the language of choice for multi-language corporations and fleets. Fleet has to stick together to be effective, and this requires coordination. Ships have different speeds, so a fleet will usually first align towards their next waypoint and then the fleet commander will issue "Warp fleet" command, which simultaneously engages warp drive in all ships in the fleet. If all ships were properly aligned, they will enter warp at speed at the same time. The fleets commander task is also to call targets for the fleet. Usually all ships concentrate fire on the same target. FC has to carefully assign target priorities to destroy most dangerous ships first (ECM, logistics, support, etc.). All of the above is much easier to do when issued as a spoken order, because there is usually no time to type (because of this, EVE Online has built in voice comms; there are also many 3rd party comms such as Teamspeak or Ventrilo).

Logistic ships

Logistic ships

EVE has no dedicated healer class known from other MMOs (there are actually no classes at all in EVE). Players flying Logistic ships have several mechanics, which allow them to decide who to repair first. One of them is so called "watchlist", which is a window showing shields, armor and hull of 10 fleet members. Second tool is Broadcast window - which allows fleet members to indicate they need support. A special icon is displayed over their ship, so logistic pilots can lock and repair them right away. Fleet Commander can also use this tool to assign targets (or in less intense situations - the next waypoint for the fleet).

The last very usefull skill is scanning for other ships using Combat Scanner Probes. Directional Scanner is very useful, but it is not possible to warp to any of the result. Probes work in a different fashion. Three or more probes are launched from the ship and then positioned around the solar system. A reading from each probe is then used in a process called triangulation, which pinpoints the exact location of the ship. Lets assume there is an unknown pilot doing missions in the system owned by our corporation. To find and destroy his ship, Character needs some in-game skills, that allow using Scanner Probes, and out-of-game skills to quickly find and bookmark the offender. If probes don't give a warpable result, probe range needs to be reduced and another attempt must be performed until a 100% lock is found.

So, what are you fighting for?

One could ask, why do players shoot each other and destroy their ships (what a waste!). There is at least few possible answers for that question. First and most obvious is a killmail – a special report which shows who destroyed who, in what ship, and which modules were destroyed, and what was dropped as loot. These messages can be later published on a special website called "killboard" for bragging purposes. Other reasons can be political or teritorial, sometimes its just kill-of-opportunity - one pilot makes a mistake and immediately someone else takes the advatnage. One of my pirate coleagues even said that killing other players is just "agressive marketing". Pilot of the destroyed vessel will have to buy a new one (and its us who make sure they are available for sale). PVP and economy are very tightly bound in EVE, because constant struggle between players creates demand on the market, making the virtual economy of New Eden so similar to the real market.

Is this all about PVP in EVE?

No, not at all! PVP in EVE is not limited to destroying ships. Snatching cool loot before anyone else does, manipulating prices on the market, undercutting prices, buying off orders entered by mistake - this is all PVP, just on a different level. Competition is everywhere, even between industrialists building ships and modules, which are later sold for profit. This makes EVE a very complicated game, but also very rewarding experience, when you manage to win with so many other players.

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