Often, these players tell me that they have found their current lives in New Eden unfulfilling, their old pleasures having become stale with time. My blog - evidence that absolutely anyone can engage in solo pvp - inspires them to try something similar. I wish them the very best of luck.
However, these budding pirates often find the road hard going; harder, at times, than they expected. In part, this is my fault. Although I have worked to keep this blog as honest as I can, and I have not intentionally hidden anything about my fights, like any storyteller I focus on the parts of the story that actually matter, and I skip the days and hours of irrelevance.
So over time these pilots sometimes become disheartened by the long and winding road of the solo pvper. My blog can be read in an afternoon, which can lead readers to forget the months it has taken me to make even modest progress. I'm going to take a moment, therefore, to talk about mundane realities; the challenges that I face daily, but which rarely make it into this blog.
Targets are hard to find
I'm a low skill point player, on my own, flying a frigate. I can roam all day, or all evening, and not find anything I can attack. Sometimes this is because everyone seems to be docked up or behind their forcefield. More often, though, their battlecruisers and battleships simply outclass my little frigate. Equally, many corps never seem to move through low sec in groups of less four or five. I like a challenge, but I'm not stupid.
Fights are hard to provoke
When you do find a fight, it is very important to engage on your own terms. This requires a certain intentional or unintentional cooperation from your target. There have been a number of occasions, for example, where I have encountered Eve University anti-pirate fleets/ships that I would have engaged if only they had either jumped off the gate or engaged me on the gate.
Hello, EveUni! I'm a pirate! Shouldn't you be engaging me? Apparently not, unless you have the gate guns on your side.
Many fights simply fizzle out
Even after a target has been found, and you have them where you want them, things still may end without a blaze of gunfire. Too many times - FAR too many times - I have scanned down a mission runner and switched back to my frigate only to warp in as they were warping out, their mission completed. Just today I scanned down a Cyclone and jumped in on him, only to find him 40+ km off the warp in point. As I burned towards him he simply warped out, abandoning his mission.
And of course, let's not forget warp stabilizers. You can anticipate your opponent perfectly and land right on top of that cloaked covert ops ship, or land right at zero on that hauler, only to have them slip your point and leave you with nothing but a GCC.
There is no money left
Some pirates are able to make a living out of their piracy. I certainly can't, though, and I'm using the cheap ships. While that may come with time where pillaged wealth sustains me, at the moment I am constantly short of cash.
What's worse, it is very difficult to go back. Those moments of excitement - those fights you do find - are addictive; I can't bring myself to grind ISK after the experiences I've had. I have not run an exploration site in weeks. All I can do is try and lose fewer ships, spend less money, and hope that the ISK starts rolling in at some point.
What does this all mean?
It means that I spend a great deal of time on this game laying the groundwork for what works out to be a few minutes of intense excitement.
I don't get those hours back. They are part of the price I pay to fly the way I fly.
And I pay it gladly. There is no doubt in my mind that it is worthwhile. There is nothing in this game I would rather be doing. But new solo pvpers should be prepared to pay this cost before they start.
Is there nothing that can be done?
By and large, no. It's a way of playing, and cause follows effect the way night follows day.
That said, joining the right corp really helps. The empty hours fly by much faster when I'm following friends in corp chat and on ventrilo; one part of my mind distracted while the another part focuses on my D-scan and my roam maps.
And nothing lifts the spirits like seeing a corp mate cross your path, another lonely hunter roaming the endless night. A wave, perhaps, or a salute, but nothing more before you both plunge back into the void, leaving only emptiness behind you.
It's not the easiest way to play this game, but I wouldn't change a thing.