Hey, guys, how do I make ISK off of exploration?
I’ve gotten a lot of questions from new players about exploration. It’s an attractive idea: free ISK floating in space, just waiting to be found. Not only that, but the required ships and equipment are cheap and easy to get into. Exploration is an appealing profession. However, it does have its subtleties.
First, the basics. You have a few types of sites you can scan down in New Eden.
Require Data or Relic Analyzers respectively to access the cans in them. Of these, Relics usually have better ISK value in them, but with the changes coming up soon, this may not be the case forever.
Exactly what it says on the tin. You need a combat ship to run them, and what that entails usually depends on security status of the system they spawn in. These sites are usually lucrative, but do require decent skills, ships, and modules.
These are the gateways to unknown reaches of space. There’s no CONCORD, no local channel, and very hazardous NPCs. For a new player, stay out or study them before you jump; wormhole residents and other explorers love killing people. That said, if you stay paranoid, keep an eye on dscan, and bail if you see ships or probes on it, you’ll be fine. Just remember to bookmark both sides of the hole when you go in. What you can do in there as a newer player is hack the nullsec-grade Data and Relic sites in it. These are challenging, but worth it. Null Relic sites are typically worth 40-50 mil, Data, 30-40 mil, with chances at faction blueprint drops worth hundreds of millions.
Don’t mess with anything else. Seriously. It will try to kill you.
These are for advanced explorers; even I don’t usually try to run them. Ghost sites start a timer when you land on grid and blow up after a while. It will trash any frigate near a can instantly. It’s a race against the clock. Sleeper caches are pure hell, and as a new explorer, I would avoid them unless you want a killmail for your ship and pod. Yes, pod. I told you they were evil. Once you figure them out, though, they’re very profitable.
If you find one of these, a Venture is your best bet. It’s a cheap, purpose-built frigate that’s easy to train into, and its inherent warp core stability will help you make a quick getaway should any hostile players come after you. Grab a hull, 2 gas harvesters, and go to work. There are plenty of resources out there that will tell you what the value of your gas is.
Gas sites in wormholes will be guarded by sleeper drones, and you’ll need to bring more force to bear than your exploration frigate can handle, but the rewards are potentially quite great.
To be a successful explorer, you will need to have a racial scanning, or covert ops frigate. You will also be able to fit cloaks of some sort, Relic/Data Analyzers, cargo scanners, rigs, and have a general idea of how to scan a signature down.
So you have a Data/Relic sig scanned to 100%, and are about to warp to it. Great. Don’t warp to zero. It sounds counterintuitive, but the reason is that most hacking sites don’t spawn where the sig resolves. You’re anywhere from 10-120km away when you warp to zero, so here’s my solution. While I scan down my sig, I warp to the planet closest to it. It makes it easier to turn the camera on the scanning map, since the camera swivels around your ship.
So from that planet, warp in at 100km away. Then make a temporary bookmark where you land, warp back to the planet, and then back to the temp at 100. Congratulations, you are now at warpable distance from the cans. Bookmark your location at no less than 150km from the closest can. Now, pick a can, right click, and warp to it. To get to a distant can, warp to your perch, then to the can. The process of aligning and warping is faster than burning around a large site with your MWD.
Before you start hacking, it makes sense to scan the various cans for the best loot; no sense letting someone swoop in and steal the best can while you get carbon! Then burn or bounce to the can, and orbit at 2250m. You can change that default distance with your radial menu. 2250m lets you loot right away, as well as cloak if someone gets close in hostile space. Then simply target the can, and activate the appropriate analyzer on it, and hack away.
If you’ve never touched the hacking minigame before, don’t fret! TMC has you covered with this handy guide.
Scavenging (Buzzard not required)
That’s the conventional method of turning probes into ISK. There’s another, more unconventional method that can be very profitable for new players who may not have skilled Hacking and Archeology up quite high enough to crack the good cans. That method is called scavenging, and in the right system it can turn great money in a short time.
You will still need your scanning or covert ops frigate, but this time your fit revolves around an Expanded Probe Launcher and combat probes. Do what you need to fit that and whatever scanning upgrades you can use. After you have it on, head to a mission hub system. You can find these by opening the map (F10), selecting the statistics tab, and look for police and pirate ships killed in last hour. Look for the closest big red dot over a system. Most missions will take you no more than a jump or two away, so don’t be surprised if you see a cluster.
Probing and d-scan awareness are great skills to have when flying in hostile space, such as wormhole or nullsec. And what better place to learn than carebear central, where no one will be hunting you?
First, launch your combat probes, open the dropdown menu on the left side of the scanner, and select Probes and Drones from the list, after unchecking Show Anomalies from next to the menu. Do a blanket scan of the system, then start scanning drone hits. When you have a drone signature resolved, pull up the dropdown again, and select ships. If you get a drone and ship hit on the same place, someone is using them, and probably won’t like you taking them.
If it’s just drones, congratulations, you’re about to be richer. Warp in, and get to within 2500m of them so you can scoop them to cargo or drone bay. Sell and profit. T2 drones, such as Hobgoblin II, or faction, such as Republic Fleet Berserker, are worth a lot more than T1s, so I wouldn’t even bother with a flight of Acolyte I’s; its just not worth your time. The real gold mine on this is if you get someone who has left Geckos out there. Currently in my part of nullsec, they sell for 120mil each, so you could potentially be a quarter of a billion richer if you find two of them. And two are common with a ship like an Ishtar that has huge bandwidth.
That’s all for today. Please share your thoughts in the comments, or by in game mail to Verdis deMosays. Thanks go out to KarmaFleet for getting me thinking about the basics of profitable scanning through all the questions in corp chat. If you want your name here, send me a mail with your questions, and you might be the one I write the next article for!
See you among the stars!
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Verdis.