Rejecting fights / staying alive
One of the fundamentals of soloing in any ship is putting yourself in harms way, while maintaining the ability to reject fights and stay alive. In a MWD frigate, you should be able to escape from most any situation, but when you switch to a cruiser / BC, you loose a good amount of that. A lot of time, you can still escape if you keep your calm and they don't, but as it implies, it demands a bit more finesse from you and stupidity from them. That is why it is good to start learning to solo in frigs, and once you get used to that rush and remain calm and controlled, you can move on to bigger ships.
One of the ways you can help yourself is by bringing a dual-boxed covops alt to get you through gates without blindly running into a bad situation. As an added bonus, you can fleet up and get a nice bonus to agility, shield / armor HP and lock time / range if you have some decent leadership skills. If you however don't have a second account for that, or don't want to dual-box, you really need to accept that you release a very large amount of control over the situation.
When you solo, there's a couple of approaches.
When you brawl, your focus is on quickly locking down a target and killing him off before friends show up or he can run away. Compared to your opponent, you are usually either very heavy on tank, DPS or both. You usually behave as the aggressor, initiate an engagement, and commit first. Unless you have a really big tank and fight on a gate or station, it'll be hard to disengage, so make every second count.
When you kite, your focus is on being able to dictate range and maintain your ability to disengage. Compared to your opponent, you have good speed and agility and DPS range. You usually behave as the target, letting your opponent come to you and let him initiate aggression, and you don't commit until the fight is already won. That last part means basically that initialy, you should not care too much about tackling your target, but put damage on him while keeping range. Only when he's almost dead and it's safe to do so should you make sure you dive in for tackle.
Fishing is sort of a mix between brawling and kiting. Your ship is setup like a brawler, but your behavior (at least initially) is more like a kiter. Basically you set up a trap for a\specific (type of) opponent, wait for him to engage you, and then close the trap and brawl him down.
Arguably this isn't a specific type of combat, but more a variation on brawling or kiting, and is a generalization of fishing. The point of control style fighting is that you have some measure of control over your opponent that diminishes his ability to fight you, and it's particularly suited for ships with an ewar bonus like recons. A Rapier for example can control range with dual-webs and despite low tank and low DPS either kill an opponent or disengage. A Curse can do something similar with neuts. A fishing Celestis (with webs + scram) is sort of a control setup in disguise, controlling the ability for small ships to disengage.
Choose the type of approach, and pick the right tools (ship + setup) for the job and specialize. Although there will always be targets that you can brawl in a kiting ship and kite in a brawling ship, you should be wary about that and not give into temptation too often when frustration and / or boredom strikes.
1 vs 1 or 1 vs many
Again, there's a different types of fights you could be looking for when you solo.
1 vs 1
Especially when you like to brawl or fish, these are the fights you will usually be looking for. Personally my recommendation is to cruise through an area, maybe linger, but surely don't stick around to long for people to form up. The longer you hang around in an area, the more gates you want to between the closest population center and you, giving you more time before possible reinforcements come.
It's also sometimes a good idea to toy around with somebody before you engage. A lot of the times when you get a 1 vs 1, the other opponent wants that fight just as badly as you do, so making him work a bit for it, for example making him follow you a system, gives you more time to assess the situation, decide on tactics and setup correctly for it.
1 vs many
The reality is that a lot of solo PVP ends up as 1 vs many, and it can actually be a lot more fun if approached correctly. However, there are a lot more things you need to be aware off.
When kiting, watch that magic 150km mini-warp range. It is so easy to kite somebody far enough for gate for his support gang to be able to miniwarp up to you, giving you big head aches. Choose new align at 80km points, realign before 120km. Any further and somebody that gets through on the opposing side of the gate might still be able to miniwarp up.
If you are brawling, don't fight on the in-gate. If you know or suspect a gang will come for you, warp to a different gate from the one they will come in from, so you can see local go up, check scan and know what's coming before they are actually there, and if you choose to disengage and go out through the gate with less of a chance of more gang members waiting there. However if you are kiting, you should kite on the in-gate, because that means that people coming in can't immediately mini-warp to your first chaser, but instead have to bounce or burn after you.
When stuck on a gate with a hostile gang, watch which hostiles are aggressing you and which aren't (and because of that, can follow you through). Based on that, decide if you should crash gate again on the other side, or kite off, or try to cold warp off. If you have the ability to take a breather in gate cloak (when they don't have something that can prevent you from gate crashing like a Rapier), use it. Whatever you do, don't give up too early, I've escaped stupid amounts of situations I should have died in in my HurriPain by simply gate crashing 2 or 3 times, and then kiting or cold warping off after the coordination in the hostile gang has completely disintegrated due to blood lust / panic / brain dead / bad comms / whatever.
When fighting multiple opponents, esp. when kiting, don't worry too much about having tackle on your targets initially, because most of the time, they will stick around on their own any way. Focus much more on choosing the right target, deploying drones, maneuvering, etc.
Splitting up opponents, either in range or on different sides of a gate, is essential. There's too many examples to mention about how you can think of it, but thinking of it a lot is key.
Be VERY worried about gangs with ewar ships, they are game changers (and usually spoilers), probably even more so then logistics. Soloing is all about control, and with EWAR is all about giving them more control over you, and that severely limits your options.
Active vs passive tank
There's no single right answer to what is better for solo PVP, although at the moment of writing, Ancillary Shield Boosters are particularly powerful. In general though, I think the passive tanks work well for 1 vs 1 brawlers and all shield kiting / control setups, but not so well in most 1 vs many brawlers. Active tanking can do well in most situations, although you really need to be pretty knowledgeable about the limits of it and needs more finesse / micromanagement because when it breaks, it usually breaks hard.
The measure of success (or "how do I enjoy something that is inherently very difficult to succeed in")
Understand how you measure success, or what makes you enjoy playing solo, and let that guide you. Every person is different, and that is why some advice will resonate well with you and other advice won't. Since that sounds vague, I'll try to illustrate with an example:
I as a (solo) pilot and very result focused. A lot of the process of (solo) PVP I find frustrating, but when I get good results, it's all worth it. Getting blown up repeatedly without any kills pisses me off. This guides how I approach (solo) PVP, and I usually play more of a kiting / controlling type of PVP. However, a lot of Agony pilots are different. I know for example Alta seems to enjoy the process of going out hunting a lot and getting blown up seems to be less relevant to him, as long as het gets a fight (although getting blobbed when flying a Rifter does piss him off slightly). People like Alta are usually more brawler style PVPers.
Knowing why you want to solo, what draws you to it and what you want to achieve should guide how you do it, and what works and what doesn't because in the end, you need to overcome the inherent frustration of solo PVP and enjoy it.
I hope I wasn't too much Captain Obvious and some of what I wrote strikes you as useful. Good luck
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Solo PvP - Some Basic Advice
This past summer DaDutchDude made an excellent post on the internal Agony Unleashed forum about solo PvP. With his permission I am posting it in it's entirety here. Enjoy...
at 12:08 PM