March 29, 2012

What Is a PvP Fit?

When getting into combat against other capsuleers, a lot of newbies ask the simple question of "how do I fit a ship for PvP?". They are often answered with specific fits which, while often good, are not usually accompanied by reasoning of why that fit is more appropriate than the mission ship the newbie was using already. So... let's tackle that.
Get it?

How is inter-capsuleer combat different from missioning/ratting/etc?

Duration of combat. Capsuleer battles are short, violent, and visceral. Don't expect them to last more than a minute or so tops, especially if the battle is between few ships. As such, the fitting needs to keep this in mind.

No easy escape. Capsuleers can run away from fights that go sideways. Nobody likes their target getting away, so always maintain point on it -- whether from your ship, or that of a friend, or both. Personally, my opponent not fitting a point actually encourages me to warp away and mock him about his combat ineptitude. Don't be that person who forgets the point.

Range control. Keeping range or closing distance can be the difference between an easy-as-cake kill, and an embarrassing loss. As such, speed and agility are important, as is knowing how your guns/missiles work and at what ranges/speeds they do or don't.

I'm hunting wabbits. If you are going into combat with the awareness of your target and without a trick up your own sleeve, you are about to die. Treat it like you're a predator stalking prey. Prey that might have teeth.

Charlie Foxtrot. Nothing ever goes according to plan. Deal with it.

That's right.
So, what do I fit?

Tank. One of the most different things between encounters with capsuleers and non-capsuleers is how you handle the "not dying" part. Normally, because of the duration of (for example) cleaning out an asteroid belt of Angel Cartel ships, there is an emphasis on having an active tank (using one or more armor repairers or shield boosters) to survive the whole time. The strength of the active tank comes from the fact it can be kept active for a long time, generating a potentially infinite amount of hit points for your enemy to chew through.

That does not usually work against capsuleers. As mentioned before, capsuleer fights are very short. There's no sense having a shield booster that will give you a total boost of 500 HP throughout a fight, when you could fit a shield extender that gives you a flat 1000 HP. If it's a very long fight, the shield booster will eventually end up being better, but that is usually not the case. This is why a buffer tank is an easy go-to choice for fighting other podders. That means:

  • Armor plating
  • Armor resistance enhancers (energized plating, etc)
  • Shield extenders
  • Invulnerability fields
  • Damage control

And not:

  • Armor repairers
  • Shield boosters (or shield boost amplifiers, etc)
  • Shield rechargers (or shield power relays, etc)
UPDATE: With the introduction of ancillary armor repairers and shield boosters, I should mention that these are fine to use as an equivalent to a buffer tank. Their burst repair is high enough that they will keep you alive until they run out of charges.

Am I doing tank right?
Gank. Being able to not die is not the only thing important in a fight. You also need to be able to kill. Do not skimp on damage.

A big difference with capsuleer fights is that many of them happen up close. Remember those autocannons, blasters, pulse lasers, and rockets that you dumped in favor of longer range munitions for missioning? Time to go back to it, because it does more damage.

Of course, you can fight from range as well, but that requires even more range control. Figure out what range you are best at (or what range your opponent is worst at that you can still operate in), and try to maintain it in the fight. Of course, for that you will need...

Speed. Very few good combat ships sport no afterburner or microwarpdrive. Take your pick (or take both), but don't take none.

The afterburner gives you roughly a 2x speed boost, and uses relatively little capacitor. The microwarpdrive gives you a much greater speed boost (5x) but it also:

  • Consumes a lot of capacitor power
  • Gets shut off if someone activates a warp scrambler (not a warp disruptor) on you
  • Bloats your ship's signature radius, making it much easier to hit.
  • Can cause tracking problems for you because of the crazy speed.
If speed and agility is really important, don't hesitate to use Nanofiber Internal Structures or Overdrive Injector Systems.

"Did someone say speed?" -- Slicer
Tackle. The first step of combat is catching the target. Get a warp scrambler or a warp disruptor, depending on which one you need for the particular fight, and possibly a stasis webifier (to slow the enemy down).

If you're in a bigger fleet, your role as a newbie might actually be suicide tackle, which means that this part of your ship more important than your gank.

Suicide tackle Rifter, go!
So there you have it: basic combat fitting theory. Now that you know what sorts of stuff a combat ship should have equipped, get one, go forth and shoot things!

Disclaimer (OOC, @bittervets): The fitting advice here is meant for newbies who are just dipping into PvP. Electronic warfare, skirmish vs brawling, remote rep, active tanked PvP, and other such things are put in the backseat in favor of giving a clearer view to newbies.