Knowing What to Train - Anyone who's ever listened to The Drone Bay podcast will know that if there is one tool out there that every pilot should have running at all times, it is EVEMon. This utility will allow you to make sense of EVE's vast and complex skill system. Anyone who has wanted to fly a specific ship or use a special module will know that everything depends on the skills a character possesses. Looking at the skill tree dependencies can quickly turn into a crying-fest, and making sense of it all can be almost impossible. This is where EVEMon comes to the rescue.
After downloading and installing the utility, you will have to either connect to your character's profile using the secure EVE API provided by CCP, or import your character's XML file for EVEMon to track your character's progress. Once you've done this for all your characters, you will see all their skills points, the skill books they own & their levels and the skill currently being trained. It will even warn you when you've got no skills in training. And that's just where the fun begins.
EVEMon allows you to create plans for series of skills to train. You can do this manually, adding the skills you've chosen yourself one at a time, but that can be tedious. Where the true power of this utility comes into play is by allowing you to create whole plans based on ships and ships setups (or loadouts) that you would like to pilot and use. I can't tell you how much time I've saved by using this tool, not having to open each module and ship information in-game to try to make sense of all the prerequisite - from the ones I needed to train, to the ones I needed to buy. EVEMon simplifies all this for you. It is a must, for any serious player. Trust me!
To Fit or Not to Fit - I also don't know how many hours I've spent looking up modules to try out new ship setups. At one point, probably a third of my time in EVE was spent doing just that. Carebears appreciate good ship setups as much as the next PvPer you should know. Early tools, such as Nyphur's EVE Tanking Spreadsheet, covered a part of the ship setup equation, not all of it. Since then, new tools have come out that have made the task much easier; tools such as the EVE Fitting Tool (EFT).
Similar to EVEMon, you will need to use the Character API to add your character to the tool. This allows you to create ship module setups very easily and ensure that you've got the right set of skills to fly them. As the name implies the EFT allow you to test out various modules just as you would in-game. You can play around as much as you like, and do so in a much more convenient manner than having to buy or look up the module stats as you normally would in-game. PvPers will appreciate being able to quickly gauge the various ship parameters and more importantly quickly know their DPS (Damage Per Sec).
It's a wonderful utility that saves a lot of time.
Knowing Where You're Going - One of the first thing you'll notice about the EVE universe is that it's huge - 5000 systems spread out over more than 60 regions. Though using the autopilot to guide you towards your next destination is essential, sometimes it just doesn't give you the big picture. You might know where you're going and how to get there, but more often than not, you have no clue where you are, or what lies ahead just a system or two beyond your route.
This is where the EVE maps come into play. When it comes to knowing there way around the universe, EVE capsuleers are blessed with the choice of 2 great sets of maps. The first, are the free 2d EVEMaps that come in a PDF format, courtesy of Ombey. The second are the EVE Strategic Maps, which were recently made available by MMM Publishing, courtesy of Serenity Steele. The later needs to be ordered through the EVE Store.
Though they provide slightly the same information, both have their separate uses.
They great thing about the 2d EVEMaps is that one can print the whole book, or only specific regions to be used to plan operations or complex moves. Using these printouts, you can add any additional information, which you'll be able to quickly reference later. If the information gets obsolete, you simply print another copy. Let me assure you that once you've started doing this, you'll wonder how you got around EVE before.
On the other hand, writing on the EVE Strategic Maps is something I would never dare do. The 70-some page booklet is a beautiful document which contains a plethora of useful information. As I mentioned in my review, you'll want to take sometime to familiarize yourself with all the information it contains in order to use it to its full potential.
Both maps allow a pilot to quickly know where he is, and what lies ahead of him. That's the kind of information that can become quite useful in times of conflicts such as these.
So there you have it, 3 important tools. Oh, there are other tools and sites out there to help capsuleers, but with the tools I've just mentioned, you should be a lot more comfortable in exploring, exploiting and conquering this vast universe.
Fly safely, or die trying.
||David, aka CrazyKinux, fell in the EVE cauldron many eons ago, and has been simmering in a Veldspar soup since then. When not playing EVE, he's either talking about it on The Drone Bay podcast with Crovan and Alsedrech, reading about it, blogging about it, and most often daydreaming about it! He keeps his own EVE blog at www.crazykinux.com. You can also reach him at david.perry [at] weblogsinc.com