EVE: The skill plan trap

One of the biggest decisions a new player to EVE will have to make is how they approach training skills. At a very high level, you either train for now, or train for later. Training for now gets you going faster, but year-over-year results in fewer total skill points, while training for later requires patience/waiting but is more efficient long-term.

I’ve always gone with training for now, even as I sit at 35m+ SP with two different pilots. I’m all for some min/maxing, but waiting 6 months to train something because it does not fit into my current plan/remap is not something I’m willing to do, and I find the whole SP/hr chase somewhat lame. Of course at 35m+ SP, I can already do a whole lot. I can fly a T2 fit Battleship, I can fly a Tengu, I can use most T2 fittings, and I have almost perfect fitting skills, etc. If I push something back, it’s either some minor fitting tweak, or some specialized ship for a specific role. But even so, I don’t want to do it, SP/hr be damned.

The efficiency trap is far more damaging to new players, because they truly are limited in what they can do. Setting a plan to fly a T2 fit BS might sound good, but not being able to fly anything more than a frig for six months while you wait is going to be pretty painful. Not only will you yourself be limited, but you won’t be able to contribute or react to what your Corp needs, which is frustrating for a CEO.

A somewhat related issue is the perception of having skill points. If I see someone in a Hurricane, I assume they are flying it with T2 mods and in a way that makes sense rather than in a way that fits with the pilot’s current fitting skills. The performance difference between the two can be staggering. T1 fits without solid support skills just don’t add up. All those skills that add 2%, 3%, 5%, etc in one area or another might not seem significant alone, but add a bunch of them up, and suddenly a ship that should have 400DPS and 60k EHP is hitting for 150DPS, flies slower, is less agile, can’t web/scram, and pops quickly because it has 25k EHP.

My personal advice to all budding EVE pilots would be to first and foremost do what makes the game enjoyable for you. If you are not interested in flying BS, don’t train to BS just because you have heard they are useful. Same goes for long skill plans; only buy into one if you absolutely know what you are committing to. After that, train to fully fly a ship. Don’t just jump into the hull with T1 fits and low support skills and consider yourself done.

Currently battlecruisers are the most flexible ships, able to handle most PvE and perform well in PvP with overlapping skill training. If you don’t have a direct goal already, consider training towards a BC and flying it fully T2 fitted. Don’t skimp on the guns either; T2 guns might be a long train, but they are important and will allow you to hit harder for a lot less (T2 guns are a lot cheaper than meta 4 guns currently). Once you are able to T2 fit it, round out the ship with most of the support skills for guns/tank. Perhaps not all to V, but IV will yield good results, and those skills will continue to help out when you switch to a different hull.

I’d much rather fly with someone who can do one thing very well, than someone who can do five just OK. Having access to those five things is also important, but pace yourself and set reasonable goals. Not only will you benefit, but all those around you will as well.

31 Responses to EVE: The skill plan trap

  1. motstandet says:

    It is also worth noting that Cruisers are the most versatile hull class in the game, able to do damage, logistics, recon, interdiction, and PvE sites with T1, Navy, Pirate, T2, and T3 ships.

    A maxed Cruiser skill opens quite a few options, albeit expensive options.

  2. thade says:

    “My personal advice to all budding EVE pilots would be to first and foremost do what makes the game enjoyable for you.”

    This is sound and fantastic advice.

  3. The skill points mechanic is one of the great points of EVE. It is a simple to understand, difficult to master aspect that controls all you do in the game. And it is all the more devilish because you can’t just make an alt on your account, because only one character on your account at a time can be training a skill.

    So it is easy to say, “I want to do X” and figure out the skills. But it is tough when that goal is suddenly 60-90 days out and you want to do something new TODAY!

    I just finished a 40 day run to get into a Scimitar and I am still not done. There are a few other skills I could train up to V that would make small but tangible improvements to my survivability. I could invest another 2 months in such skills. And some would improve my abilities in other roles as well.

    But then I also want to fly a Broadsword, which requires some new and unrelated skills.

    And this training tension never goes away when you are invested in the game. I am going to cross over to 80 million skill points soon, and at the moment I just see a big pile of things I want to train up further.

    Of course, as I said before, when you run out of training goals, it usually means it is time for a break from the game. At least it does for me.

  4. Cyndre says:

    I run into this constantly and it took a huge mental struggle to hunker down with the DRake and commit to getting it near perfect before chasing the next shiny ship.

    I WANT to fly a Tengu, I COULD sit in one in 3 weeks, but I couldn’t fit it, it would do less damage than a Frig and have none of the applicable support skills.

    It took me a month to realize and come to grips with this. I seem to recall a certain blogger/ CEO telling me this over and over these past few weeks also…

    • motstandet says:

      I’ve purposefully NOT trained my T3 skills yet because I don’t want to lose a billion ISK ship. Not yet at least.

    • SynCaine says:

      “I seem to recall a certain blogger/ CEO telling me this over and over these past few weeks also…”

      That statement applies to basically anything MMO related for the past 5 years. At least it only took you a few weeks. Some people are just now catching up to my first post on this blog and parroting it.

      • Stylx says:

        On the other hand, there are those of us in the other side of the coin that won’t fly anything they can’t fit almost perfectly. One of the reasons I fly a crow is that I’m able to do my job with perfect skills, despite lacking weapon skills.

    • And a lot of those Drake skills will pay off when you get your Tengu. I was almost max Drake skills across the board when I got my Tengu, and I went almost straight good skills in it.

      Though I skilled up for a Raven before as well, which required active shield tank skills, and those also paid off handsomely.

      • Cyndre says:

        Ya I am grabbing the Raven along the way, on my way to Tengu. Thats sort of my “next six months” plan… Strong Drake, Strong Raven, Starter Tengu.

  5. Antivyris says:

    Alas, the same thing hits miners. Many out there run quickly for a hulk, but can’t do anything in the way of refining when they get there. I’m still quite glad I maxed empire refining before tackling my hulk plans.

    Personally, I’ve always thought that, while they are by no means perfect, the cert skills that apply to ships really are a good baseline to get something usable, and not just a triple-size-frigate. Or in the case of an average fit hulk with bad refining, a covetor with perfect refining might be able to almost match it.

    • Rammstein says:

      “Or in the case of an average fit hulk with bad refining, a covetor with perfect refining might be able to almost match it.”

      If a pilot can fly a covetor, isn’t being able to fly a hulk like a day or two away? Or am I totally misremembering that? Perfect refining is great and all, but I don’t see a great benefit in spending months training refining before spending that last 20 hours training exhumers to open up a hulk, or whatever it is. Don’t think the analogy to mining works at all here.

      • Cyndre says:

        Also the fact that most people capable of flying a hulk, should probably know someone who can refine for them.

        AKA… its an MMO, join other people for mutual benefit.

      • SynCaine says:

        You need the refining skills to use T2 crystals.

      • Antivyris says:

        You are comparing a 20 million investment with a 500 million investement. For a new miner, that is quite a big difference. This is a common misconception in the mining world, usually because your average non-miner believes that you don’t mine for your money.

        It’s like telling a hauler ‘Hey, it’s only an hour to a freighter, why are you using an iteron V?’, or any of the other cases. Just because your skill points are only an hour away from flying it doesn’t mean you have the money to, or the skills to use it properly.

  6. Fluffy Hyena says:

    I agree with you, new players should try a bit of everything when starting in Eve: getting blown up in PvP, watch their cargo hold fill up with ore, lose isk in trading, destroy a few hundreds gurista ships, join different corps, etc. And only after having put their fingers in every pies, start maxing skills.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Train all four racial cruiser skills to 3 and battle cruiser to 5 before Inferno. That plan will give +5 mill free skill points when the racial BCs come in

  8. kobeathris says:

    I agree with all of this but the guns. Get the support skills to III or IV before going t2 (except maybe small) as that adds a lot more for the training time (and saves you from committing to lazors/hybrids/projectiles early then realizing you want or need the other)

  9. muckbeast says:

    This strikes me as a pretty scathing indictment of how badly designed the whole training/skilling up mechanic really is in Eve.

    If the most efficient way to do something requires misery for 6 months, that’s just atrociously bad game design.

    • T'ango says:

      That is a pretty bold but very weak argument. Are you complaining about the cost vs reward? Or the fact that there isn’t an ‘insta-boost’ button prevalent in so many MMOs these days?

      By trying to be the ‘best’ at something that *you chose* – you have to pay the price of not being able to do anything for 6 months. That doesn’t seem like atrociously bad game design, it seems logical, sustainable game mechanic that makes the game’s play-ability YEARS longer. I could start an alt in WoW and within a month be in full Heroic Spine gear with literally nothing left to do in the PVE realm, that isn’t even in the realm of possibility with EVE.

      Nobody is forcing you to max every skill to V. As Syn mentions you CAN do a lot of things ‘OK’ for the same training time as somebody doing one thing ‘Great’. I’d argue that the different between ‘OK’ and ‘Great’ can be largely perception and can be overcome by pilot skill pretty easily. Again, I think the point Syn is trying to make is that the lower SP players are the ones hurt the most by diversifying their training plans – and that is very true. But if you want to fly a BS, go for it. Just don’t expect to be the ‘best’ at it without 6-9 months of targeted skill training.

  10. Mbp says:

    I find that the dilemma of long term efficiency versus short term fun has gotten much less of an issue since they removed the learning skills. Without learning skills the order in which you . train stuff doesn’t affect the overall time. Even getting implants and attributes wrong is less of an issue because you start with a much higher base on every attribute so sp/hour is never disastrous.

    The trick is to have a long term plan in Eve mon and then front load the skills you need to have some fun while waiting. You can train a whole bunch of skills to level 3 very quickly so you can do fun stuff while waiting on the level 4s and 5s.

    Of course the problem for a newbie is deciding on a long term plan. I find the certificate system to be a bit confusing and not entirely optimised so a bit of web trawling is required to find good skill sets required for various roles.

  11. Gevlon says:

    35M SP? That’s about two years. Since when you’ve been playing EVE? You blog about it for 3-4 months.

  12. theiggep says:

    I could not agree more with your comments! Only wish I had had someone sit me down three years ago who told me the same thing!

  13. gevlon says:

    I find the advice a bit problematic, exactly because you already have 35M points. It means – unless you are some capital case idiot who learned nothing but random Mechanics and Engineering skills to 5 – you already have a decent char that can fly good ships with good support skills. So if you would train randomly chosen skills now, you’ll still be useful.

    But for a newbie with 50K skills (that’s what you get with a new char), it’s critical to spend his first 2-3 months with a good plan to fly something useful with OK skills. If he just trains whatever he finds fun at the moment, he can be totally useless for half-one year.

    • SynCaine says:

      So you are saying I should have recommended someone focus on training into a BC first, for instance? Just to fly something useful?

      • gevlon says:

        Yes you did advice BC and it’s a good one. But it’s the direct opposite of the whole post of “train what you find fun”.

        I go with a plan (who thought) and just 2 weeks from now I’ll be sitting in my brand new ship: an Orca.

    • kalex716 says:

      Optimally I would agree..

      But the first few months of playing, having fun is most important, and if you get caught up in optimal planning you may find yourself stuck in a station with every reason in the world NOT to undock yet.

      Trust me, the first few goals you set for yourself as a genuine newbie, are going to be laughable in 6 months to a year anyway. Don’t get too caught up into it, and its pretty hard as a complete new player to ever get into a rut where they are training completely useless skills for the longterm…

      You’ll look back and be embarrassed about your priorities for sure, but in the immediacy, the important thing is to set a realistic goal, plan out a way to get there, and enjoy achieving it.

      Cruisers and Battlecruisers are certainly choice ships to learn to fly well as a newb, but if you really love the look of a particular battleship and you really want it…. I say Go for it, just remember to have a good laugh about it later on down the road when you get it blown up stupidly.

    • mararinn says:

      2-3 months? What about a few hours to become useful at being fast tackle? No need to fit guns, you won’t live long enough to significantly alter the fight. Just a ship with some tackle, a minimal tank, heck leave the high slots empty if you have fitting trouble. Maybe have a sensor amplifier or sensor booster fitted.

      That’s something useful with OK skills: no more than an hour and you don’t even need to run all the tutorials.

    • mararinn says:

      And go read this while you’re trying to figure out what you want “useless for half a year” to mean: http://blog.beyondreality.se/Newbie-skill-plan-2

  14. [...] I can not stress enough, the importance of what Syncaine posted about yesterday on his blog.  I have personal experience with how important his advice is, and there are many days I wish I had had someone sit me down when I first started out and spoke those words to me.  When I was a new pilot I quickly got caught up in what I like to call the “shiny syndrome”, and constructed my skill plan around some lofty end goal, instead of building a foundation to make me successful when I got there.  In many ways, three years later, I’m still feeling the effects of that and I’m having to spend time learning skills now that I should have had long since.  Of course, I also suffered greatly from trying to do too many things, way too early in my pilot’s career as well, which only served to exacerbate the problem.  But after three years of playing EVE on and off, I finally caught on. [...]

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