I get ask often about how to get started in PVP, what to fly, where to go, who to fight.
PVP in Eve seems daunting at first, many pilots first experience with it are a brief and painful introduction, this can put some people off for life, or make them want to learn how and then get revenge.
Take this chap for instance, Night Hawk Star 11 days old, and out in a destroyer in lowsec.
To be honest he even looks a little fresh in the face, a happy smiley chap, flying his Catalyst into lowsec to shoot at the more valuable Rats. Probably to gain a little extra money to buy a larger ship. His fate like so many before him was to be vaporised in a fight he could not possible have won.
I don't feel bad about it, I'm a pirate, and I enjoy the game by killing everything I can. It's a cheap learning experience for him, and hopefully he'll realise that over the next few days, in time maybe he'll come back and kill me. I'd be more than happy for that to happen, through I'd never make it easy.
His mistake was simple, he assumed that people would not kill him because he was young, so he ignored the warning from concord and jumped into lowsec. He was spotted in local immediately, and directionally scanned in a few seconds to the belts, before he'd finished killing his first rat, he was being destroyed by a Wolf class assault ship.
Situational awareness is the first step in PvP.
You have to understand what's going on in space around you, if he'd have hit his d-scan button he'd have seen several ships active in local, he'd could have checked a few names of the 20 pilots in local channel and instantly have realised that virtually everyone in system was -10 security status, and most where in the same alliance. This is situation which should strike caution for any pilot.
It takes no skill points to be able to scout a system, by checking the pilots in local, you can gain a rough understanding of who's here, who's likely to be with who.
When entering a system I always perform 2 simple checks:
1. Local channel - how many people are in system, are any red/blue or otherwise known to me.
2. D-scan - Pressing the D-scan button tells you what ships are in space within 14au.
If you start to hunt in the same systems, you start to build up a map in your head of the area, and the pilots within it. You'll also start to get an idea of which ships are "pos trash" and can usually be ignored. Many pilots in eve are quite territorial, preferring to roam across a few solar systems, partly this is logistics, having lots of different ships for different roles is vital in lowsec piracy, and you have to keep them somewhere usually the same place as others in your corporation or alliance "home" partly it's time. Pirates like to be close to the action, like big cat's in Africa you can usually find pirates where there is prey. This might mean a static DED plex, a mission agent, or even a skillbook station. Often it's a combination of these, and other factors, a central location between other lowsec corporations or faction warfare regions, anywhere where lots of fights can happen.
This is the first in a series of guides, hopefully they will be of use to you. For more advanced scouting and an explanation of the directional scanner, please check out these to a couple of my other guides.