My complete kerfuffle on deciding which corporation to join aside, the one thing I validated was the corporation’s stance on taking PVP noobs. If their bio didn’t state clearly they were ‘PVP Noob Friendly’, it was closed without further consideration.
I have an ‘old’ EVE account if you go by the birth of my character. However, I’ve never played more than a few months consecutively and 99.9% of that has been in high security space, running missions and salvaging. Transitioning to an aware, proactive and proficient PVP pilot isn’t going to happen overnight. And certainly won’t come about because I clicked the ‘join’ button for a PVP corp.
Sucking from a Fire Hose
The day after I officially joined Aideron Robotics, I participated in my first FW fleet. It was my first FW fleet - EVER. It was only my second formal fleet in the entirety of my EVE gaming career. To say it was like sucking from a fire hose would not be an exaggeration. It was organized but in my opinion, could have done a better job at accounting for the presence of noob PVP pilots.
There are things I know about EVE from reading other bloggers and having played the game. Things I know in theory but not in practice. I knew that I should have an overview specifically customized for PVP. I found a recommended package on the corporate forums and installed it. I knew that I should be aware of the benefits and disadvantages of the ship I was given to fly as a new inductee, so I did some reading on the Atron. I knew where we tended to launch PVP fleets from so I looked at a local map. I did the things I knew to do, to avoid being a complete liability. Unfortunately, none of my preparation helped very much.
Our corp members only fleets, use a standard setup/team composition, where the Atron is pretty much the forerunner to combat. We advance into combat to tackle and scramble targets. In normal speak, that means slow a ship down and prevent its ability to warp away. Other participants will be our heavier DPS ships and logistical support, such as remote repairing (healing). I’m sure this works very well when the pilots flying the Atron have a clue. We did not.
Mini Games #1 and #2
Keeping up with calls for which gate or outpost to align to, warp to and enter was an effort unto itself. We don’t know the area by heart yet. We have to scan up and down the overview to find which place they’re talking about and they’re not using the whole name. You’re also roaming around a lot looking for targets. So the first thing I had to master was the mini-game of finding the truncated names of places that were being called out in my overview, before I could follow commands. Consequently, I at least, was always lagging behind the fleet.
It’s kinda hard to be the first to engage and tackle when you’re bringing up the rear. It’s hard to be up front and close in combat when you haven’t a clue either. You’re adrenaline is pumping. You’re in a new ship. You’re fulfilling a new role and nothing is muscle memory at this point. AND you’re learning mini-game #2, finding the names of the primary targets being called out in your overview while it’s scrolling up under your cursor. Ever play whack-a-mole? Try that when people are shouting, your blood is pounding in your ears, your palms are sweating and your ship is melting!
During one encounter our small gang split up, the FC going with a different group from the one I was following. Our group entered a complex and found targets or based on the end result, they found us. As our side of the equation dissolved into a cluster, the FC shouted for the Atron's to call out points. Uh?? I thought I knew what was needed but my mind screamed, "Now you expect me to talk while I'm busy swallowing my tongue??" I'm pretty certain I was the only pilot to croak out a reply. It didn't really matter who I had locked, I was being focus fired into oblivion. Wah-wah Charlie Brown.
During these encounters the Atron’s couldn’t hold point even once. As expected, somewhat, people got a bit annoyed. The next time we took our lil pods home to reship, a veteran swapped into an Atron. While I wholly understand the need to put new pilots in the cheaper ships, I disagree with them being given such a pivotal role the first few times out. We should be the “extra peeps”. Not the ones where if we can’t do our job the whole gang goes boom. Trust me, we’re not getting better at it the 2nd or 3rd time we fuck it all up. We’re just more nervous, edgy and likely to underperform again.
For me, I felt horrible afterward. I wasn’t concerned about the ships I lost. I hated that other people lost ships. Ugh! Taking a proactive approach, I tried to identify the things that had gone wrong for me and how to fix them. Overview scrolling – I found a tip for that on the internet. Combat hotkeys –CCP’s defaults didn’t feel intuitive to me so I configured my own. Module layout – like any other MMO, I moved my modules (commands) to the rows and order that made sense to me. Safety – have an overview tab of safe warp-to points as an escape route. Flee- if your armor gets below 25% it’s time to run like a girl!
Don't be fooled into thinking that because you've calmly handled solo PVE combat, even when greatly outnumbered, it's anything like PVP. I only lost one ship in PVE and that was within my first week of playing, 6 years ago. I'm Gallente - a PVE drone boat pilot, with plenty of time to click command modules and deploy more drones from the safety of my Vexor. That was then, certainly not now and requires a huge adjustment in play style.
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Clearly, there are many definitions of what someone means when they say ‘PVP noob friendly’. Being allowed to sink or swim is one. Slow easing into is another. I know a bit more now. I have made an earnest attempt to correct things on my side. Now I need time and practice. I might be better served to find larger public FW groups where my impact is less and as a result, I will inflict less harm while learning the ropes.