Even though I've been playing Eve for over 6 years and started into PvP right from the start with Kirith the whole time, I'm not an expert pilot by any stretch of the imagination. I have never had many hours in a week to devote to Eve and I needed to balance my PvP time with other activities such as money making activities (PvE, invention, and trading for the first few years) and logistics (i.e. moving my shit around with the corp I was in).
Once I started making ISK in a more passive manner I was able to PvP more but it was always in groups, usually larger fleets but sometimes small gangs. I learned a lot but mostly I learned to follow direction.
When I joined the pirate corp Kadavr Black Guard last year, I was forced to start to fly alone more often. I found that hard to get used to and suffered some losses because of it, but also had some successes here and there. The pirate life can be hard for the casual player and thus I looked this past summer to join Faction Warfare again, hoping the more target rich environment would help.
And it certainly has. There are a lot more opportunities for a solo pilot to find things to shoot when at war with an entire enemy militia, as well as the support of militia fleets and shared intel.
But what really has helped me get more fights and some impressive (for me) kills has been the shift in mindset I adopted after I started listening to Bringing Solo Back podcast by Kil2 and Kovorix (please come back!).
So allow me to share the tips and tricks I have come to adopt this past few months that have helped me find my PvP groove. (Experienced PvPers, you can go about your business.)
Tip #1 - Undock, Engage - Fear is the killer. Let go of the fear. Let go of your worry. Undock and engage. Don't be afraid of having the odds against you (within reason). Two of them, one of you? GO for it. Ships were built to be exploded. Losing a fight? Fight harder until you explode or they do. Can't see how to get out of a situation, looks like you are doomed? Keep fighting, you never know when one of them might make a mistake.
Tip #2 - Overheat Early, Overheat Often - Modules that are overheating have better damage / tank / range that can make a huge difference at a critical juncture in a fight. The smaller the ship class, the earlier you should overheat because you might not get to it in time during the fight. I tend to pre-overheat my critical tackle and tank modules as soon as I jump into a system.
Tip #3 - Go back for more - You lost a ship? Grab a new one and go back looking for them again, taking in account what you learned the first time.
Tip #4 - Even the odds. - Too many to engage in the enemy fleet? Split them up using a gate or superior speed. Warp around, try to catch the stragglers. Use plex gates to your advantage. And don't be afraid to engage when the chance presents itself.
Tip #5 - Be prepared - Make sure your safety is off, mods overheated, orbit and stay at distances set, overview ready. Everything you need to do in the heat of combat is a potential point of slowness or error.
Tip #6 - Know your plan - Coupled with #5, make sure you know what you are planning to do before you land. Are you going to try and kite a Thrasher? Are you going to try and close on a Condor? Any indecision after you are in the heat of battle will cost you.
Tip #7 - Expect to Die... A Lot - It takes a long time before you get used to the adrenaline rush and avoid panic freezing. Fly cheap ships, get used to combat and dying (and getting your pod out), and then when as you feel more confident and comfortable with PvP you can increase the amount of ISK you want to risk in a ship.
Tip #8 - Know Your Enemy - This takes time, but in order to successfully engage the various denizens of space you need to have a rough idea of not only what each ship can do, but what common setups are capable of doing. For example, a Maulus is now a good remote sensor dampener and two of them can put a ship to about 10% of its lock range. Or an arty Thrasher's effective range is 22 km or less. Or an overheated Tech II web has 13 km range.
Tip #9 - Remember Tip #1.