Community Spotlight: Agony Unleashed
Getting into PvP can be a little bit like diving into a pool in the pitch black. Sure, there's a chance you'll perform an elegant dive and emerge in graceful fashion. But you also might accidentally crash head-first into the shallow end, miss and bash your teeth in on the ladder out, or it might not have any water in it whatsoever. While such mishaps might only make some people try harder, for many it will drive them away from ever trying again.
Agony Unleashed realizes that for the uninitiated, PvP can be dangerous and intimidating. That's why they began offering public PvP classes to anyone who wants to join.
In February of 2006, Rells founded Agony Unleashed and soon after began offering PvP-Basic classes. At the time, battleships were regarded as the king of the heap for any PvP and frigates were thought to have little value beyond fast tackle. Rells aimed to prove that wrong and show that new players could be a force to reckon with if they were given the proper tools and instructions.
The first class was widely viewed with suspicion by players, many of whom assumed it was a scam to rip off rookies. However, 8 players showed up and despite the ad-hoc curriculum, it was a fun learning experience for everyone involved.
Word of mouth let people know that, no, it wasn't a scam and it was actually useful! Soon, players began coming in greater and greater numbers. By the end of the first summer, the classes regularly exceeded 30 students.
The original frigate fleets employed what was known as the Hydra method. This involved having most of the frigates equip some EWAR modules (such as ECM and Tracking Disruptors) to cripple the fighting capabilities of larger ships. The redundancy insured that losing a single ship was not problematic, as another took its place.
The message quickly became clear: new players can be effective in PvP and it's a lot of fun to do so!
The Institution Today
Today, Agony's PvP-U classes are popular enough that they have to cap enrollment in any single class at 60 new students to maintain a manageable class size. Though Agony has grown beyond its origins as solely a teaching institution, they continue to contribute to the EVE Community with PvP-U.
Currently headed up by Greygal, PvP-U operates on a completely voluntary basis. Whenever a class is scheduled, Agony members are asked to step up and instruct, act as fleet commanders, and provide support. They do so without compensation or remuneration, as supporting PvP-U is considered a major component of the corp's culture.
Class activities often last four to six hours, requiring a hefty time commitment from the volunteers. Thankfully, they have a strong alumni community that participates in classes, helps answer questions, supports the fleet, and contributes other support.
Head of the Class
Over the last seven years, Agony has offered a variety of classes, generally at the rate of 1 to 2 classes a month, alternating timezones to accommodate demand. To date, they have graduated over 9000 students and expect to exceed 10000 by summer 2014.
Classes generally consist of two major sections: the instruction comes first, where the material is presented and demonstrated to the class. Next they head into null security space to apply that knowledge with good old-fashioned violence. To further encourage the bloodthirst, once a player completes a class they are encouraged to participate in future classes as alumni, free of charge.
Organizing a large group of unaffiliated pilots into an effective combat fleet can require some time. As such, they request all students start with the PvP-Basic course, which consists of two 4 hour sessions. PvP-Basic covers such important issues as comms discipline, rules of engagement, fleet movement, as well as the basics of PvP. Other classes are single session events, but still last several hours or more.
Agony's Wolfpacks class focuses on strategic fleet movement, expands on 0.0 survival skills, and provides a basic introduction to flying in more specialized gang types. In the near future, they will be holding a cruiser-based Intermediate class which will look at fighting in doctrine fleets that utilize specialized fleet roles. They also occasionally run more advanced classes on Skirmishing, Covops, Bombing, and Fcing.
Agony Unleashed provides a great service to anyone interested in exploring PvP combat without wanting to go in blind. Further information on their classes can be found on their public wiki. Or for those ready to jump in and sign up, that can be done by a simple visit to their forums.
The members of Agony Unleashed would like to thank Red vs Blue, EVE University, Brave Newbies, Somer BLINK, and the many other organizations who work with them, provide student referrals, are worthy adversaries, and offer philanthropic support to PvP-U. They have been the home of Azual Skoll, the author of the Altruist blog and former head of PVP-U, and Tea Daze, a former CSM member and Alliance Tournament commentator.
At the end of the day, Agony Unleashed and their members, collaborators, students, and adversaries share one driving goal: Fun PvP with friends. If that interests you, check out their classes!