I’ll have to give credit to Viceorvirtue (and by extension Calamitous-Intent) here for more or less throwing me into FW. The ISK question as a newbie is one that cannot be avoided. All pilots should come out of the tutorial and maybe the SoE arc (highly recommend doing this if only because you need to find a friend to finish off the last part) and answer the call of his or her wallet. Usually, this answer aligns with the path the pilot chooses to follow.
When you decide you want to be a PvP pilot, really the options are narrowed down to PvE (and at the high-end of this, incursions), FW, or getting into PvP without joining FW.
1. Non-FW PvP
This ranges from null-sec and low-sec roaming (pirate/mercenary work) to high-sec shenanigans (suicide ganking, wardecs). Obviously can be lots of fun, but both extremes and most likely all the options you can find in between are not really profitable at all. I tried it in my first months, and whether it was because I was inexperienced or just plain unlucky, the meager bounties and occasional loot I got from kills in high-sec duels or faction-fitted over-eager pirates simply could not keep up with the pace at which I was losing ships to the many dangers of pursuing PvP in such a manner. I died to gate camps, duels I picked where I underestimated the enemy, low-sec skirmishes where I get kited until the cavalry comes in to kick my butt, etc. However, this was the first way I tried to get my PvP fix, since I was reluctant to leave TSOLE, and we simply weren’t interested in joining FW at the time with all the DUST PC battles we had to support. Furthermore, I never really asked people to roam with me since I felt at the time (was probably true) that I’d only lead them to their deaths.
This led to me going PvPing alone, but then my CEO told me in no uncertain terms that that was NOT how to learn to PvP as a newbie. This isn’t the opinion of one man alone. As I touched on in a previous post, most new players in EVE want to know when they can take part in those fleet battles of destruction on a grand scale. And most people tell them this can be done in weeks; a simple tackle frigate can, as this piece of goon propaganda points out, can be trained extremely easily and still serve a purpose. But that’s not solo PvP. I liked solo PvP. So the conundrum I was left with was how to get that buzz of solo PvP, not look like a fool whilst pursuing it, AND address the problem of consuming half a billion worth of ISK in my first three months through PvP, whilst barely replenishing a quarter of that in my rare victories, and missions.
2. PvE and Incursions
Eventually I pulled myself away from PvP entirely and dedicated myself to some hardcore missioning. The path of a solo missioner, however, must progress to a ship capable of handling L4s or blitzing L3s or else the returns are simply not worth it. And running missions in a group, well, currently CCP simply hasn’t incentivised that enough. I didn’t want to waste time skilling into battlecruisers and battleships, however. Cruiser PvP was my destiny. So here I was, smashing out L2 after L2, wondering when I’d earn enough ISK to be able to head back out to PvP and lose my ship with no regrets. To cover the costs of a T1 cruiser with a few T2 modules running L2s alone took much too long for me. Really to progress in PvE whilst restricting myself from training any further than cruisers, I had to go up into T2 cruisers, like the HACs and T3s, to run higher tier missions. This would take time, though, during which I’d be twiddling my thumbs running more L2s and dying of boredom within.
Then fabled tales of the lucrative incursions reached me ears now. 100m ISK/hour, they said. Low-risk, they said. SHIP REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAMS! I drooled. All it took was a T2 logistics cruiser (cruiser? check!) and I was happy to train into those because my main role in fleets is logistics anyway. All it meant was holding off on PvP for… a few months. Shit. I hunkered down and prepared to resolve myself to a long train and not much activity until then, because at this point I was veritably bankrupt. Alas, this was not how I spent have spent my last two months.
3. Factional Warfare
FW had been in the back of my mind since I started EVE, as it sold itself as a newbie’s way to get into small gang and even solo PvP, and I personally also loved the lore revolving around the empires. (mad props to all the Amarrians who fly with a copy of Pax Amarria by their side. Makes fighting you even cooler.) However, as mentioned previously my main reason for not heading into it was that I didn’t want to leave TSOLE, who I had been with for most of my DUST 514 career. The thing is, the other two options I had above simply wouldn’t cut it and essentially I’d be stalling my journey to become a great PvPer if I tried to battle my way through incursions, or PvP without any real rewards. When I told this Vov guy about my ambitions to do PvP, and to fund it with incursions, he simply shut me down and told me to do FW. This
coercion persuasion, coupled with my initial desire to do FW in the first place, tipped me over. So I told my friends I had to undertake a portion of my journey without them, and they gave me their blessings. It was surprisingly easy for them to let me go, now that I look back. Wait a second…
ANYWAY. FW I joined, and TRIAD is now my new home until I believe this self-inflicted training regime is over, and I can return to TSOLE with my head held high, with something more to contribute than being a constant drain on resources with everyone sending me donations in pity when they see my losses.
And so far it has been the right choice. PvP is abundant, and I even have the chance to avoid it easily and still make ISK plexing empty systems! The LP gains are probably at ridiculous levels at higher warzone control tiers, but I am happy to exploit that for now. If they’re nerfed to the ground in the future, know that now at T4 warzone control, a medium plex rewards you with 60k LP (split equally amongst all those inside the plex), and at 1000ISK/LP conversion, that’s a whopping 60,000,000 ISK for sitting around for 20 minutes! It’s absolutely no wonder farmers fit cloaks and warp core stabilisers and just avoid conflict; the ISK they make lets them buy items to hug when they’re accused of being cowards and risk averse. However, I particularly love how being in a plex is more of a magnet than ever to people who want to come kill me. Frigates dropping my cruiser at zero are especially awesome! And already I’ve been getting super challenging fights (for me) which push my knowledge of PvP and ship handling beyond what (little) I know now. The thing is, more fights I attract now aren’t totally lost before I even begin firing, and this is probably the single greatest factor about FW PvP for a newbie. To lose a close fight is totally different to being stomped. Your mistakes become obvious aside from being caught in the first place, and now you have an area in which you can improve.
Improvement! The experience you gain in FW contribute to your skillset in PvP far more than any other paths you can take, and make ISK as well. Obviously if I can be earning this much LP without seriously plexing and looking for fights, others will be making triple what I am, and over-saturating the market with LP items and driving LP value down. But I’m still earning enough to cover the costs of my ships easily, and that’s enough for me. No longer is ISK a problem of filling that ever-hungry hole, but a simple nuisance that I have to address every now and then with some sell orders and constant modifications.