Suffice to say, even though this guide will have some things that will apply only to those looking for a fight, there is something for everyone, since you will get killed, someday. Ignoring these bits of advice is a surefire way to make that inevitable ship loss that much more painful. Also, bear in mind that each and every one of the things I am going to cover here is something that I myself have done in the past. This is not just a guide for noobs, but also a cheat sheet for those of us who get so busy preparing the bigger picture battle, that we forget things that end up making us look like total noobs in the end.
First off, see to your clone. There are two aspects to this. If you have a very expensive implant set heading into a big fight, you would do well to jump clone out of it, as there is a fair chance that you will go down and get podded before you even load the field. Pirate implant sets are best reserved for smaller gang combat and capital pilots, in my opinion. Secondly, and perhaps more important, make sure your clone is updated.
Later in the game, you only need a new clone type once every few months, but if you have used the "pod express" recently (moving your clone and then self-destructing), you will need a new clone. I have had more than a few friends tell me after a fight that they didn't realize until we all got back to station that their clone was at Grade Alpha, meaning that they stood to lose millions of skill points if they got pod-killed. I also personally know people who have lost skills like Battleship V to this. Paranoia is not a bad thing when it comes to losing weeks of skill training.
Also, keep in mind that the game currently does not automatically inform you if your ship's insurance has run out. If you think that you may be close to running out of insurance, check while you are docked in station. Clicking the Insurance button (the one that looks like a Vexor class cruiser with a chain around it) in the station interface will display all your ships in the current station, as well as their insurance status. It is also often useful to make a note in the in-game notepad tool to remind you when your insurance will expire.
The last thing to check on are those necessary items so obvious that they are sometimes overlooked. For most players, this means checking to make sure you have the right drones loaded, as well as spare ammunition for your guns and capacitor booster. This is the mistake that veterans seem to make most often. It's not necessarily the end of the world in empire combat, since there are likely to be NPC stations where you can stop along the way, but even that holds the group up. The problem arises in 0.0, where you will have to beg and borrow to get the gear you should have had in the first place. Nothing is more embarrassing than undocking a Gallente drone ship without any drones loaded. Not that I would ever do anything like that.
Along the same lines is a special notice for capital pilots and pilots carrying a Cyno Generator. In these cases you have an extra consumable or two to keep up with. Make absolutely sure that you have all the jump fuel or liquid ozone that you are going to need. Chances are, your Fleet Commander will tell you exactly how much everyone needs based on their skills, and nothing is more infuriating as an FC than having to stop or turn around because one or more of your cap ships is under-fueled. Dreadnaught pilots have an even further consumable in Strontium Clathrates to run their Siege Module. Forgetting these things is easier than we vets would like to admit, and nothing makes you look like more of a noob.
Phillip Manning has been an EVE player for over two years. Much of that time has been spent as a PvPer and Fleet Commander, as well as a stint as the CEO of one of the largest mercenary corporations in the game. He is also known as Crovan from The Drone Bay Podcast and The Bitter Old Noob Blog, where he dispenses advice and opinions like candy. When not in EVE, Phillip is indulging in any number of guilty MMO pleasures. He can be reached at phillip DOT manning AT weblogsinc DOT com.