EVE is by nature a game of Player vs. Player (PvP). Many people unintentionally or unwittingly participate in PvP, not realizing it goes far beyond ship vs. ship combat. I'm going to look at PvP in EVE in a series of articles, covering the different types of space (HiSec, LoSec, NullSec (NPC and Sov) and types of PvP (ship, market and resource). This first one will look at PvP within the bounds of HiSec Empire space. But, before that, I thought I'd define PvP in the most basic sense:
PvP occurs when any player interacts with another with the intention to profit in some way.
This one is easy. Two ships engage in combat, consensual or non-consensual, and the desired result (for one of them) is an explosion (not theirs).
Ok, a lot of eyes just glazed over. Come on, people compete in markets all the time. Can you make a profit undercutting that sell order for 20 rifters in Dodixie? Do you have a solid grasp of the Covert Ops Cloaking Device II market in Rens? Buy low sell high is the basic idea here, whether all in one place or with a bit of shipping in between. Is it profitable (enough) to just sell your mission loot to open buy orders, or is it worth posting sell orders?
Sometimes intimately tied with ship combat, this is the battle for moons and moon goo, asteroid mining for higher value ores (or any ores in busy systems), planetary interaction (resource extraction), and exploration. A lot of the NullSec wars tend to (lately) revolve around resource combat for Technetium moons, but this can apply just as easily to a lower value Vanadium moon in LoSec.
Ship combat in HiSec exists in one of three basic frameworks: wartime, assault, or theft. Theft is the easiest mechanic to get lower-risk PvP in HiSec - steal someone else's loot and they have permission to defend themselves. Once they engage you are free to strike without intervention by CONCORD. This mechanic is often used by mission griefers and ninja salvagers with great effect and some amazing kill mails. If there is an active declaration of war, the parties involved (consensual or not) can engage in combat in hisec. HiSec wardecs are often used to grief nullsec logistics, or industrial alliances with great effect and profit. If there is no active war declaration, pilots can still engage in combat, but CONCORD will intervene and punish the aggressor (often after the vicitim has already lost a ship). This form of PvP (lovingly called ganking) has been the most popular recently, with events like Hulkageddon and the Gallente Ice Interdiction. Gankers often target miners in their thin-hulled industrial ships. There is no way to defend against a gank. Attention and luck are the only things that can minimize your loss.
Market combat in HiSec is often summed up as "0.01isk bidding bots in Jita." But that barely scratches the surface. EVE's market combat has been the source for many economics papers, and CCP even employs an in-house economist. Beyond Jita, there are 3 other large regional markets (Dodixie, Amarr, and Rens) and 22 other HiSec empire regions. Each region has pilots who buy and sell goods with the intent of profiting off of others. There are also pilots who buy in one region or system, and ship to another for even greater profits. Even large alliances have played the market, most recently Goonswarm by buying up Oxygen Isotopes then selling off in huge profits during the Gallente Ice Interdiction. A patient or attentive pilot with a knack for spreadsheets can turn a small starting capital into billions quickly and easily in EVE.
Resource combat in HiSec is the simplest form of PvP in EVE. Extraction of materials in planetary interaction is affected by the number of extractors in an area, and popular planets will provide less resources than less popular one. Finding a quiet, out of the way planet for your extraction means you get the maximum return (limited by the reduced returns in HiSec overall). Mining for low- and mid- grade ores in busy systems where fleets of Orca-supported Hulks strip belts bare is the easiest example of this type of resource combat. Find a quiet system with a good variation of minerals and clear the belts from high to low value ores. Another type of resource combat in EVE is in production. NPC stations with research slots (and to a lesser extent copy/manufacturing slots) are always busy, with a long queue to get a blueprint researched, or copied, and in some stations, manufactured. Learning which modules or ships are the most profitable to build and sell based on the region of space you are playing in (or in general). The last type of resource combat in EVE is the exploration sites. There are a limited number of sites, and more pilots than sites in most areas. First-come first-served isn't always true, and this occasionally leads into ship combat as well.
Issues with Hi Sec PvP
I'm going to go out on a limb and say there really isn't a lot wrong with HiSec PvP. There may be issues with individual PvP mechanics (neutral remote-repair comes to mind), but in a broad sense, I think PvP in HiSec isn't horribly broken.
In the next article, we'll look at methods of PvP in LoSec.