While solo PvP in Eve is not dead, it is certainly one of the most difficult modes on play in Eve that I have encountered.
Null sec warfare certainly has its trials and tribulations, but for the average pilot there is not much more than fitting your ship to required specs and following orders of the FCs properly. It may be more costly in terms of ISK for lost ships and implants but there is a certain amount of freedom in being able to lame some or all of the blame at the feet of others; others, incidentally, that do the work of finding the enemy and evaluating engagement opportunities for you.
Not so in solo PvP. The job of finding the targets to engage falls solely on the pilot. And since he is a fleet of one there are a lot of hazards out there that a fleet of you and 50 friends can safely ignore. Thus we run into the plight of the solo PvP pilot: which ship to use?
Battleships give the most DPS and tank combination, allowing certain latitude in engaging on gates and stations while ignoring the sentry guns, or even taking on numerous smaller foes. However, they are slow to align and warp making them easy targets for hostile ships to tackle and wear down, plus they can run on the pricey side when they do get destroyed.
So we downgrade to a cheaper battlecruiser which has decent DPS and tank, a little more agile, smaller caliber weapons for threatening even destroyers and frigates in the right circumstances. Still can get caught on gates by larger fleets but not so expensive to lose. But you are still big and unable to enter some faction warfare sites and a lot of viable targets cruiser-sized and smaller will simply refuse to fight you.
Well, what about a cruiser then? Your number of viable targets has dropped considerably now, and any fleet bigger than 3 frigates will give you serious trouble. Really, it seems like a solo cruiser has none of the advantages of a bigger ship but all of the disadvantages of a smaller ship unless you go Tech II or III and really raise the price tag.
Destroyers? Very situational, and the lack of mid slots means that tackling target frigates is problematic. Better used in wolf packs.
So we're down to frigates. Small and agile, they are hard to catch at gates. Even Tech II versions are affordable. You can enter all Faction Warfare sites (EDIT: well, not Tech II frigs sadly, but faction frigs can for a more expensive option). And good pilots can in the right circumstances threaten destroyers and some cruisers. But your viable target pool has shrunk very small now and any well coordinated fleet of enemy tech I frigs is a tough battle usually ending in your demise. At least the cost of a loss is not too devastating.
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So what's the answer to this conundrum? My response is to keep a couple ships of every type handy, roam in a frigate and if a target presents itself that requires MOAR POWER then I dock and re-ship. Once the opportunity is over, back to the frigate.
Tomorrow we'll talk about the Art of the Duel.