Beginner's guide to the PvP,
This guide is an introduction to PvP for players new to EVE. While this guide will cover the basics of PvP, it is focused around Faction Warfare and soloing. When you have grasped the basics, you can start to learn more of the specific type of PvP you wish to do, from reading guides and blogs or by asking questions from people you meet and make friends with ingame. I recommend all beginners start with frigate and destroyer class ships and move to T2 and/or larger hulls only after they have good knowledge of the low security environment and the actual PvP.
When you start a brand new PvP character, you will first need to decide what weapon system you want to use. There are 4 weapon systems, but only 2 with distinct characteristics, missiles and turrets. The turrets are divided into 3 different types, them being projectile weapons, hybrid weapons and lasers. Also all weapon systems have different sizes and two different types of weapons within each size class. For example projectile weapons are divided into small, medium, large and extra large weapons. Within each size class there are autocannons, which have good rate of fire and damage, but poor range and Artillery Cannons, which in turn have low rate of fire and long range. Also these weapons have sub-types that have different fitting requirements and attributes, for example 125mm, 150mm and 200mm autocannons which are all small weapons. Even after that those weapons have different meta versions, tech 2 modules being the most widely used.
When you at first try to decide what weapons you want to go for you will not have a clear vision of what the differences between weapon systems are and you propably won't even know what your style of fighting will be. If you want to be able to cover as many hulls between all races as possible you should definately go for any of the three turret types. They all share the same support skills so it will be easy to train into another turret system once you have the basic support skills trained. Or if you know that you will most definately want to fly a specific race's ships, even just for the looks, then by all means pick that race's favored weapons to start with. Those are; missiles for Caldari, Hybrid for Gallente, Projectile for Minmatar and Lasers for Amarr. Personally I do not recommend starting with lasers as I do not have high regards for Amarr starter frigates and I think any new player will be better off in any other race's ships. Note that the race of your character does not hinder your ability to use other race's ships and weapons.
All of the turret systems have different characteristics, Lasers have good optimal range, projectiles have good falloff and hybrids don't really excel in either of those, but in turn have good tracking. On the other hand with missiles you only need to worry about flight range and not optimal/falloff range or tracking. For this information to be any good for a new player I must explain what all of it means.
Weapon range is divided into two statistics, optimal range and accuracy falloff. When a target is within your optimal range you have 100% chance to hit when disregarding the effects of tracking. The weapon's falloff then extends your range with sub-100% chance to hit and determines how well you can hit outside of the optimal range. At the edge of your falloff range your chance to hit is still 50%, but falls to around 6% when the distance is twice your falloff. On top of that, the quality of your hits will go down further reducing the damage you will be able to project to targets in your falloff range. For example if your optimal range is 10 km and falloff 5km, you will hit 100% up to 10km, 50% at 15km and 6% at 20km. The choice of weapon will affect your performance, mainly how consistant damage you can deal out to different ranges, for example a weapon with 10+1 range is great at shooting targets within 10 kilometer range when compared to a weapon with range 1+10 which is using the falloff range even for targets that are very close. However if the target is out at 12km the first one is practically useless while the longer falloff weapon can still deal decent damage. Range can be improved with skills and modules.
Tracking speed means how fast your turrets can turn and keep up with enemies who have transversal velocity. In practice this means that if you are flying a fast ship and orbiting an enemy at close range he needs to have good tracking to be able to deal damage. Typically short range weapons have better tracking than long range weapons so it is a common tactic to dive close to an enemy with artillery cannons to avoid his weapons completely while at the same time applying your damage with well tracking short range weapons. Tracking can be improved with skills and modules that improve the turret's tracking speed or reduce the enemy's velocity.
Missile range is a bit different. Missiles deal full (not including effects of target speed and signature) damage to target every time they hit, but will have zero chance of hitting outside their range The missile range is calculated by multiplying missile velocity by missile flight time. For example a missile with 4000m/s velocity and 3 second flight time would hit a target 12km away. I will not be going deeper into the effects of target speed and signature radius to missile damage because those are very often irrelevat in small ship battles especially when using faction missiles. The characteristics of missiles make them ideal for new players, but in the beginning are a bit restricting if you want to cross-train into turret hulls, because they do not share support skills with turrets. However that is something a lot of players are willing to overlook in favor of having an easy to understand weapon system.
Another way of dealing damage in combat is drones. Drones are AI controlled small vehicles that are commonly used to deal damage, but have other types that are able to use electronic warfare. Controlling drones is straightforward, order to attack or return and let the AI do the rest. Most new players struggle with drones, mainly because they are hard to fight against and because having them yourself requires too much training investment to be reasonable for the beginner. It would be reasonable to train drone skills at earliest after 3 months of training, unless you have set your mind on being a drone ship pilot, in which case you could skip training weapons almost entirely in favor of drones. In small ships drones are not as common as in larger ship hulls, but there are some that can effectively use them as a main weapon and some that have drones to compliment their otherwise lacking damage capability. In frigate class the Tristan is the king of drones, being the only basic frigate able to field 5 drones. The pirate frigate Worm can also use 5 drones, but has a price tag that can be pretty intimidating for new players. Some other frigates can use 1-3 drones, but are not exactly drone ships. The destroyer class has two hulls considered to be drone ships, the gallentean Algos and the amarrian Dragoon. Compared to frigates these are very powerful ships and something you should aim for if you choose to invest heavily on drones.
When you know how to deal your damage you must then think of taking it. There are different types of tanking available. All ships have Shield, Armor and Hull that have a set number of hit points and set percentage of resistance to different damage types. You can shield tank by increasing the amount of hit points your shield has (buffer tanking) or by using a module that can recharge your shield (active tanking). Also for PvE it is common to increase your passive shield regeneration, but that is hard to implement to PvP. These tanking methods also greatly benefit from improving your shield resistances. You should use shield tanking if you fly a ship that has bonus to it or enough mid slots to afford it.
Armor Tanking is pretty much the same, but with the distinct difference that adding hit points will add weight to your ship and lower it's maximum velocity. Also armor does not have passive regeneration. You should use armor tanking on hulls bonused for it or if you have many low slots available. It is pretty common to use one ancillary repair module on ships that have no other tanking method, but can mitigate damage in other ways, for example with speed and/or electronic warfare.
One of the defining things for a ship is how the slots are divided. There are three types of slots available (and 4th type in form of rigs), High, Mid and Low slots. High slots are commonly used for weapons and energy neutralizers/vampires. Mid slots are maybe the most important for a PvP ships because in these slots you can fit shield tanking, propulsion and electronic warfare modules. Low slots often have armor tanking and weapon enhancing modules.
In the high slots, ships always have a set number of turret or launcher hardpoints. You could have 5 high slots, but if you only have 3 turret hardpoints then you can only fit 3 turrets. Many ships have mixed number of turret and launcher hardpoints, which means that you can fill all high slots with weapons as long as you mix turrets and missile launchers. If you can't or don't want to do that, you can fill the extra slots with energy neutralizers or vampires. These will either burn a lot of enemy capacitor really fast, or transfer smaller amounts from them to your ship. You could also opt to leave the extra high slots empty. This is in my opinion the only case you should ever have empty slots on your ship.
Every ship should have one propulsion module. There are fits that don't have any and those that have two. But to make things easier for a newbie, you should always have one propulsion module fit no your ship. These modules are fit in mid slots and there are two types of propulsion modules available for small ships, Afterburner (AB) and microwarpdrive (MWD). The afterburner consumes some capacitor and provides a decent speed boost to your ship and it can only be shut down by the opponent if he manages to empty your capacitor. Afterburner fits are often "cap stable", meaning that at a certain percentage of capacitor the recharge rate equals the consumption making it last indefinitely. When you fit a microwarpdrive it will induce a penalty to your capacitor capacity as well as consume more capacitor when used than an afterburner would. MWD can also be shut down by using a Warp Scrambler module on your ship, making it more vulnerable and unpredictable. The good part about MWD is that as long as you run it you are really fast. AB fit frigates have velocity at somewhere between 800 and 1200 m/s and the MWD fits can go as fast as 3-5km/s. It can be very hard to catch a MWD ship if you have an AB fit.
Electronic warfare (EWAR) is very commonly used and takes up mid slot(s) All PvP ships should have at least one EWAR module fit, the warp jammer. Warp jammers come in two different types, disruptors and scramblers. As mentioned earlier, the scramblers can shut down a MWD, giving you an edge in combat. Both of the modules will prevent your target from warping unless he has counter modules fit, know as Warp core stabilizers or "stabs". While the scram module is stronger, it also has lower range (<10km). The warp disruptor module has long range (20-24km), but consumes more capacitor. Whenever you wish to fight someone you should have one of these modules fit to prevent the enemy from escaping.
Another very common EWAR module is the Stasis Webifier, "web". They are used to lower the speed of the enemy ship, usually by 50% or more. Their main uses are slowing the opponent enough for your weapons to deal damage, or slowing their speed below yours so you can dictate at what range your ships will be from each other.
Other EWAR modules are used a bit less, but you still have to know what they do. Tracking disruptor (TD) will lower target's weapon range and/or tracking, mostly used on different forms of kiting ships. Electronic counter measures (ECM) are used to shut down the enemy's ability to use targeting systems. When succesful, this will prevent the enemy from targeting anything and thus prevents using most of the offensive modules. Sensor dampeners will reduce a ship's targeting range and/or increase targeting time. The target painter will increase target's signature radius, making it more vulnerable to damage.
Mid slots are also the place to fit your shield tanking modules in. This means shield extenders to increase shield hit points, shield boosters that use capacitor to recharge shield and shield hardeners to increase shield resistances. Common modules for small ships are medium sized shield extenders, small shield boosters and medium ancillary shield boosters.
Armor modules go to low slots. These are armor plates that increase armor hit points, repair modules that use capacitor to repair armor and various resistance increasing modules. Small ships usually use 200 or 400mm plates depending on what they can fit. Unlike shield boosters, only small repairers are used, both normal and ancillary ones. For increasing armor resistance there are three valid options, Armor hardeners, Energized membranes and resistance platings. Armor hardener uses capacitor and requires some CPU to fit. Energized membranes are passive but need CPU to fit. Resistance plating is passive and can be fit with just 1 unit of power. Another resistance module in low slots is the Damage control (DC), this is a very important module as it not only boosts armor resistance, but also shield and hull resistances. Most of PvP ships will have this fit and it is so good that you are restricted to just one.
All weapon types (and drones) have modules that can be fit to low slots to enhance their performance. These are passive modules and in addition to damage modules there are also modules that increase range and tracking of turrets. The low slots can also hold modules that increase ship's CPU or powergrid (PG) to fit other modules more easily. And not to forget, you can also fit Nanofiber structures and Overdrive Injectors to low slots to increase your ship's velocity and agility.
Rig slots are the same for all ships, 3 slots for t1 variants and 2 slots for t2. In these slots you can fit rigs that have a wide variety of different bonuses and usually also drawbacks.
I will try to keep this section short and simple to not to confuse you too much. I will be adding sections that go deeper into different aspects and forms of PvP later and google will be your friend if you want to find some of those things out right now.
You can roughly divide PvP into two styles, brawling and kiting. Brawling means you get up close and personal with your opponent and you have usually fit short range weapons, afterburner, warp scrambler and a web. A kiter on the other hand would like to keep out of the range of warp scrambling modules, usually orbiting slower opponents in range of 15-20km. A kiter would fit long range weapons, MWD and a warp disruptor. Brawlers are usually well tanked to take damage while the kiters are fragile and rely on their speed to keep them from taking damage.
There is some common variation to this you should be aware of. You could fit a MWD and a warp scrambler to catch kiters and blast them away with your short range weapons, this is a danger you will also face if you fly a kiting ship. Also you could fit a ship that can kite in brawling range at the edge of warp scrambler's range, usually 7-9km away. These ships usually have two webs to ensure that they are faster than their opponent and they have weapons that can deal good damage in at least 10km range. Those ships are dangerous for any ship with short range weapons as they can't deal enough damage to that range and they can't get closer or escape because they are slower.
In the next part of the beginner's guide I will introduce good fits for new players, tips on how to fly those ships as well as training guides on how to get into them and how to progress from there.
As always, if you have questions or feedback, contact Brick Walls ingame via evemail.