Not too long ago a good friend of mine asked me a question. He is a smart guy, and very capable, and he wanted to know if he should give up on pvp, because it seemed like he just couldn't compete, no matter what he tried. It is that conversation which has lead me to this post. There are two basic problems here. The first problem is that it is probably a safe, and conservative estimate, that 90% or more of the top "predators" in the game, the high end pvp'rs, the "wolves", are running cheats of various sorts, the two most popular being C**** ****** and R****. Most of the "wolves" in the game are also using various a** *****. (Note that due to Stratics Forums policy I am not able to use the full names of applications or describe the specifics of various cheats, and that is in no way the intended purpose of this thread.) "The-program-which-shall-not-be-named" is not generally used by the most dominant pvp'rs in the game anymore, and is more the province of pvm'rs and crafters, or pvp'rs when they perform what they consider to be mundane tasks, such as making "pots", etc. Unfortunately the hopes that I had for the third party cheat detection have, for the most part, not been realized. The second problem is that most of the "wolves" in the game have far more time to dedicate to the game than your average player with a mortgage, a job, children, a cottage, a car to maintain, etc. etc. The key to dominance in any online game, even if you cheat, is practice, practice and more practice. With all that said, after thinking about his question for some time, this is my answer to him. The short answer is, no and yes. No, you are not going to be able to compete at the same level as the most dominant players in the game, even if you choose to compromise your integrity and use the same cheats that they do, but yes, I think it is still worth trying to compete against them, and I think you can choose templates, and tactics which will mitigate the advantages that their cheats, and apparent abundance of free time give them. So the next obvious question is, why do I think the war is worth fighting, even if you know you can't win? The answers are, in my opinion, fairly simple and straight forward, and are the same kind of answers I would give to anyone who is a "gamer" in the real world - a gamer with responsibilities, with love and friendship in her or his life, with a career, or even just a "job", with a family, and with interests that extend well beyond her or his addiction to gaming - because we might as well face it, most of us are addicts. The answer is twofold. First off, you can learn a great deal about yourself, a great deal that is useful, in persevering in a war you know you cannot win, and where better to learn those kinds of lessons than in a controlled, relatively safe environment, such as that provided by a game like Ultima Online? The second answer is that there are all kinds of "real world" benefits to be gained from "gaming". Believe it or not an online game like Ultima Online provides social benefits, exercises our mental faculties, and improves hand/eye coordination, helps teach computer and keyboarding skills, both of which are extremely important in our world today, and pvp specifically is very good at helping to train us to be able to focus on multiple objectives and sources of information at the same time, as well as teaching teamwork skills if you are involved in group pvp. So the last question is, how do we make it fun? No one likes to be beat up all the time. Well the first obvious answer is, join a like minded group of players, or at least ally yourself with them. However, if you don't cheat, you will probably have to accept the fact that if you join any guild, or ally with anyone, you will probably have to face the prospect of fighting on the same side as cheaters, because as I have noted in other posts on the subject, cheating is part of the culture of online gaming, and of UO specifically. It is deeply entrenched and pervasive. Just about the best you can do is determine to keep your own game play "clean". After that there are certain templates which will allow a character that has less time to commit to the game, and who doesn't use cheats, to still be somewhat competitive, or at least useful to your "team" in group pvp. Two of those templates which immediately come to mind would be the much despised stealth archer, or mobile tamer template such as a gargoyle tamer with a greater dragon as her or his weapon of choice. These templates still take skill to play well, but the learning curve for them is perhaps less sharp than it is for some other templates, and you are more likely to enjoy at least some success with them, and be useful to your team mates with them, even if you don't have the time to devote to the game that others do, and have chosen not to use cheats. One of the wonderful things about UO is that we have a very experienced and dedicated veteran community, and a vast storehouse of communal knowledge to access. So if anyone else has any specific ideas for templates that would be more accessible to the "sheep" who want to venture into the forest, please feel free to share them. Another one I can think of is the vital role of faction thief in factions. Please feel free to be much more specific in discussing templates and/or tactics than I have.