Editors Note: This is an aticle by Edeity, an FC for I Whip My Salves Back and Forth. He said he would post it to this site, and never did, so I'm doing it for him, mostly because I want a half-decent link to give people when I find myself talking about the principles he covers here within. I've left in all the "Amarr Victor!" present in the original, but the core concepts are the true essence of solo pvp in EVE Online, presented as accurately and brutally as possible.
Disgusting. Look at you. Vilest morally bankrupt covetous purposeless specimen of a once human that crawled their way into a pod. You are riven with distraction, torn in so many directions and one of those directions is to be elite at solo pvp. As though it were joining the school glee club, with a bit of pep and can do attitude - you can do it! Pathetic. No this is not roleplay, this is what I think of you. You disgust me.
Lesser minds write often about solo pvp. They write with a desperation of those who cannot see past their nose. Cannot see the truth that it is not a single fight but a war that is waged alone. And for waging solo war rather than a solo fight most minds are not just ill prepared, but fundamentally lacking. So the writers comfort you and placate you with the small things for small minds, things that in the larger battlespace are near irrelevant. Keep shining your shoes/changing your fit soldier. That's what will save you when you hit the beach. Use a tracking disruptor, it will turn the tide. Fools.
My disdain for most of New Eden grows over the years. At first it was for the Matari then the Gallente, and then the Caldari my so called “allies” (yes my Caldari allies, I am one of those you can thank for J4LP realizing it should shoot you). My own militia is not spared from this scathing assessment. There are many immoral, irreligious, rabidly blood hungry, intellectually incapacitated groups asserting that they serve the Empress but blatantly in service to and indeed from reading forum posts - servicing, themselves. Yes Dirt n Glitter this is a veiled reference to you.
I have asked Factionwarfare.com to entertain an article from me on the subject of solo pvp. Let it be known, my offer to write was very yea very very hesitantly accepted. I have made it clear I shall have no brook for ridiculous Gallentean “principles” of journalistic integrity, I shall not hold back my opinion and of course I shall offend the vast majority of the readership. You are weak of mind and willfully ignorant. Of course you will reject truth. The fact that they draw viewership from the lesser races I shall not permit in anyway to influence what I say. If you want some pandering author writing about fun happy pvp experiences you should google “eve online blog” and close this article. Your corrupted dirty eyeballs are not worthy of these words.
Now I am an honest and spiritual man with an open mind and a gentle heart. The question comes, why do you edeity, descendant of the Ni Kunni - embracers of the true faith and now brothers to the very gift to the universe themselves, the Amarr - why do you wish to share knowledge of warfare to heathens, heretics, brigands, thieves and worse - the Gallente ?
The faith of Amarr is truth. Combat is truth. There is no conflict between these. Through the conduct of war we come closer to truth. In time all warriors see they must serve something higher or they lose all faith and die eternally. You, despicable faithless wastrel of a reader are most likely my enemy - but if I teach you, I help you become something more, something better. You will realize the ultimate weapon when engaged in the greatest of battles is faith. This is the truth of solo combat.
So let us begin.
This is my Rifter. There are many like it. This one is mine.
In fleet pvp you are your ship and your ability to follow orders. You win and lose by this and the choices made by your FC. This teaches you not just bad habits for solo, but constrains your horizons so much that you cannot see what needs to be done to win. A common scenario for a solo pvper is to spend an hour fitting a new ship, from recommendations and research. Fly out. Bam. Run into something that has an odd fit and unexpectedly defeats you. Fit a new “better” ship to defeat this as well, fly out again. Bam. Run into something different that defeats you. Cry not fair and join a fleet to get some easy kills.
This is not the way for solo. To win at solo you first need to realize you are not your ship. The ship is a tool, and one of many. They are golf clubs, you need to pick the right one to make the shot from knowledge of course a strategy you have formed. But instead all you do is keep practicing football.
Before you step into a ship, you need to learn to fight. By fight I again do not mean fittings or how to use d-scan. I mean fight. Throw an actual punch. You’re not trying to hurt space pixels. In solo pvp you are fighting a person. They think, breathe, get stressed, make mistakes, have their own plan, are creative, devious and when faced with multiple choices pick the easiest or the one that experience tells them they should. There is a meta here, it is subtle but when you learn it you can dictate more of the fight than any set of snakes implants or faction webbifier can.
I use some basic game theory strategies in fights. In an unknown combat situation against an unknown pilot where you each have only limited information on what the other is capable of, it is a basic Prisoners Dilemma game.
Essentially what this game is, is a meta decision making model for predicting your enemies choices based on incomplete information. You have two choices. Betray or be Honest. Converting that into the solo pvp battle space can mean you can choose to fight fair or “cheat”. Also - win doesn't mean you win the fight, although epic win means you probably do. It just means for that round of decision making you achieve a good tactical outcome to the capabilities of your ship and skill points. A win win when you are actually shooting bullets just means the fight is fair and its down to ship fitting, skill, dps and tank. You know, the stuff all those other pvp solo bloggers write about. The stuff that has least impact on you actually winning.
Now also important to understand in game theory space, there is no such thing as morality or ethics. Morality only exists because it gives an advantage in a game. That's right space preachers and honourable pvp’ers only do it because they have an even nastier cunning plan than cheating.
Now this may seem a bit silly and overkill, and what the hell is the point. So let me illustrate with a real example from this week.
I had spent a day killing stealth bombers as part of my Minmatar Isk denial action. Had killed around 30 ships solo that day. I am warping back home, when I see there is a war target on scan at the sun in a Dramiel. I am rocket fit for dps so not optimum to engage by kiting, and a scram fit dramiel even if I did kite would be risky. He is persistently staying on the sun to be scanned down.
Ok so his choice in our game of Prisoner's Dilemma is to be Honest.
OR AT LEAST THAT IS HOW HE IS TRYING TO LOOK.
So the next thing with games, is they are done in a series. They are not singular. An engagement is not over and determined just because I have decided “lets do this”.
What I do know from Game Theory strategies is the easiest way to get a massive win is to lie and make them think they should be honest. Pretend you are something you are not, “ahm all about da gudfites bro” and “no hard feelings, lets team up on planet 3”. You may have for instance heard of using a bait ship…”Obvious bait is obvious” is commonly used in these situations.
I want to test him. See what his intentions are. I am suspicious he is trying a little too hard to get caught.
I warp at range. By the time I am there he has gone. Next game. I choose to stay here and see if he comes back. He does. He is at range from me.
Next Game. Do I charge straight at him? warp off? or something else?
I face away from him and pulse mwd away. He chases. He is going slower. Must be AB fit… but going very fast for AB..
Ok so now I know why he thinks he will win. He has boosts. I scan. Loki on scan. Confirmed. He is actually now playing a Lie once we are on grid. Notice what he has done - he played Honest to get me on grid, and now he plays a Lie. EXACTLY the same meta decision as using bait ship in fleets.
By playing these games in sequence I determine more information about him. I have worked out he wanted to be caught, he has loki boosts, and I am now in a position to engage him at my leisure or fly away. He is still AB’ing at me at around 2.5kms
Next Game. Ok so what weapons are at my disposal. I am in a rocket malediction, I have very good tank and a cap booster with perfect cap skills and faction mwd. Capacitor is my major advantage over him. Lets use that.
I keep pulsing MWD but drifting looking overly confident at times to let him get close to me. I am slowly burning his capacitor. Yes he can probably perma run it but once we start fighting I want it reduced as much as possible. I am now playing a Lie. But it may be a bit obvious, so his continued pursuit may be because he is stupid and can’t see the lie and is just drooling while chanting “blood for the blood god” over and over in front of his computer or because he knows I’m lying and he has another lie - like ungodly dps from a fit radically different to most Dramiels that can rip through my tank.
I now execute on my Lie strategy. I slingshot. Bam within about 4 seconds I have covered the distance and am coming in rockets hot.
And now we play the scram dance. This is the where our multiple games are worked through. I pull for range to reduce incoming dps from his autocannons. He keeps pressure up to get close. Every kilometre can make a difference for me. He has warrior drones, they are chewing up my armour.
His counter lie to my lie wins. He does have ungodly dps that very slowly breaks my tank that can normally sustain any non blaster t1 frig. But I got him to hull. This was a Nash Equilibrium. We both “won” got the fight we wanted and thought we might win. Neither of us got the fight we didn’t want - he didnt get kited at 30km with death from a thousand cuts of light missiles and I didn’t get hot dropped or have a falcon uncloak. So even though I lost it was a hard win win in game theory space. A better win win would have been pre-agreed or unsaid rules and working with each other to make sure we could trust there would be no nasty tricks - that it would just be warrior to warrior test of skill bushido code style. But as per the payoff grid for Prisoners Dilemma you are usually an idiot if you do this - trusting your enemy to collaborate is the easiest way to hand them an Epic Win and you and Mega Fail.
So what you have seen here is that games occur in sequence. A fight is not a single game. If you land on grid with someone and neither are prepared it can be a single game. Often however a fight goes for multiple games - i.e. multiple strategic decisions. Because they occur in sequence and people have memories past choices affect perception of both players and influence what they think the other party will do.
Some real world recent examples:
- A helpless lone neutral Maller is 40km off station and he is -5 sec status. Using the model you know exactly what’s going on here without even checking that yes, he is a member of Pandemic Legion.
- A member of TRIAD is in a plex alone. The system is empty. They are in a strange for them tanky rather than fast ship. Warping to the gate you stuff up and get stuck on gate and it take 30 seconds to untangle yourself. They have not warped off during this time. You know from previous engagements with TRIAD the only fights they have chosen to engage with you when you are solo is 10:1 odds and at least 2 griffins.
- It is outside TRIADS main timezone. You come across another member in a plex. The system is also clear. They are in a fast ship but effective for pvp.
- You are a minmatar mission runner. You warp to a gate cloaked to jump into the system for your mission. edeity who was also in the previous system you warped through arrives on this gate in a malediction just as you jump through. When you arrive to your mission system you see he has also jumped but has not broken cloak yet. Warping to your mission before he uncloaks sure looks like a great idea to avoid the chance of being tackled. You should totally do this every time.
Using the Game Theory model you can infer a lot of information about intent and what the other player wants to do. Yes these examples are simple, and you have to be pretty dumb to not see what’s going on without using a model - but training yourself to use the model is what gives you a cold emotionless logic to assess situations - especially ones you have not dealt with before.
Now there is some important concepts for prisoners dilemma strategies:
- Adverse Selection - the fight that most wants you is not the fight you want, and the fight you want is the one that doesn’t want you. Some strategies in this space are to lie about how desirable you are to fight. Create a new alt character that looks like a noob, fly a rifter but pimp it out with faction mods, the first guy who flew a triple neut tristan… In adverse selection the main source of information for determining how desirable you are to fight is actually you. You have greatest opportunity to lie here.
- Backstab - obvious bait is obvious - pretends to work with you / be fair / honourable - does the opposite. Most common strategy because its dumb and it works.
- Moral Values - if you know someone will not use ECM or will always respect a 1v1 that changes your risk/benefit assessment. You may even decide to be honourable yourself and go for the rare Good Win, Good Win fight only practiced by most senior of faction solo warriors and also complete noobs who run into complete noobs. If you do the same - i.e. let people know you always respect 1v1 etc it will change their choices to you not just for this fight, but going forward. But they will not believe you just because you say so (see backstab) you need to show it with your actions - even when they choose Betray. This is how I play. Usually...
- Brutal Revenge - If you have a reputation of brutally destroying people not on the battlefield but afterwards in a public and very over the top manner for doing a particular strategy (whether fighting you in the first place, or cheating in a 1v1), it will make not just them but more importantly everyone else less likely to do this behavior. This is why public revenge is very important to many crime organisations. The intended purpose of the bounty system was to actually perform this Game Theory function but was implemented stupidly and is in fact a point of pride rather than fear.
- Network Value - multiple people working collaboratively acts as a disincentive to people that want to Backstab - but ONLY IF the network is seen as effective. For instance when Caldari militia started awoxing J4LP the J4LP leadership tried negotiating with them as we didn’t want to lose standings. I turned them around into realizing they had to show them the full force of Amarrian might or the alliance meant nothing. Until we did they just saw dumb solo targets of opportunity.
And there are others. The trick is to analyse what someone is doing. Are they behaving in a genuine manner or are they deceptive. From this you can glean information about their ship, level of support, whether they likely have ecm and whether they will be an honourable 1v1 opponent etc.
My basic golden rule Rule Of Engagement for low sec is derived from this, it is as follows:
Anyone - neutral, friendly militia, high standings, alliance, corp, ANYONE not doing their absolute most to prove they are going out of their way to not have a chance of being a threat to you is a valid target and should be destroyed immediately without warning. It should never be apologized for as a signal to all that it will absolutely happen again.
No, it's not very social, but I haven’t been awoxed by Caldari or Amarr militia in over six months and, for example, a tough talking Amarr militia gang that tried to force me out of a plex, well they weren't in militia a few weeks after they realized their attempt to paint me as an awoxer by linking their loss mails wasn't going to work. Senior Amarr members know my ROE and they know I’m honourable, so I can kill with impunity my own kind. Game Theory. Maths does have uses.
I have set here a very basic model for strategic decision making with an ability to predict enemy behaviour. This is only but a small part of the Battlemonk Solo Warfighter Framework that I have been constructing this year. It covers warzone operating models, a battlespace architecture, financial management, governance and communications and it even gets down to fits and tactics. It is alas too much information to convey in one single article and I suspect far beyond the mental capacities or at least attention span of many readers.
Should you, the cretinous hordes that continue to reject the Truth of Amarr find this article of some value please let podborn.com know. Both the style and content are rather different to the usual meaningless drivel written from the sidelines about irrelevancies in the glorious fight to bring the Word of Amarr to the godless. I have hopes of presenting an elevated, higher view of the battle between the forces of Amarr and the dark abyss. Your feedback and active discussion is very welcome.
Abbot of Holy Amarrian Battlemonk
I Whip My Slaves Back And Forth