I started playing Eve in September 2017. I now have two Omega characters – this exploration-focused toon, and a trading alt. I play solo, because I don’t have the time or inclination to join a player corp.
I’ve learned a few things over that time that I rarely see covered in the player guides, and which might be helpful to new players. So here’s my two cents.
1. Everything in EVE has a learning curve.
There are very few activities in the game that are completely straightforward. There are a LOT of nuances to just about every interaction that aren’t obvious or explained very well. When you’re about to try something new, approach it carefully, and be prepared to make a lot of mistakes.
2. Start small.
Because of #1, don’t jump fully into a new activity before you’re confident you know what you’re doing.
When I first started exploring, I wanted to get into lowsec because it’s more profitable than highsec, but I was scared of it because I had no idea what would happen when I jumped through that orange gate.
So I outfitted a Probe with the cheapest exploration fit possible, didn’t bother arming or tanking it, and didn’t install any expensive implants. Total cost of that ship was about 1 million ISK. The idea was to have a ship so cheap I could lose a dozen and not care that much. Then I jumped into lowsec and began poking around. Over the course of a week or two I got a feel for how lowsec worked, and how I (as an Alpha character at the time) could survive and profit there. Only then did I invest in higher-grade gear and implants.
Same thing with station trading. I started out with small orders in various things as I tested different trading strategies. Lost money on some of them; made money on some. Learned how to tell what worked and what didn’t. Now my trading alt buys/sells billions of ISK worth of goods a day (profit is only a fraction of that, of course), working a market strategy that I honed through trial and error.
3. Speaking of lowsec…
Once you’ve spent some time in lowsec, you learn how it works and also some simple strategies to stay safe. My trading alt now flies T1 freighters into lowsec with regularity, and for the most part is just fine.
First, set your expectations. Going into lowsec is a CHOICE, and carries risks. You WILL lose ships now and then. Be mentally prepared for that. If that doesn’t work for you, then don’t go into lowsec. It’s that simple.
That said, lowsec is not a big lake teeming with piranhas. It’s mostly empty. You have to be prepared for gate or station campers every time you travel in lowsec, but 80% of the time you won’t see anybody outside of a station.
To improve your odds, do your homework. Before jumping into a lowsec system, check it out on the map with “Ships destroyed in the last hour” displayed. If the system has even one destroyed ship, think twice. If it has two, stay away and wait for a quieter time to jump in there. Also, avoid obvious pirate locations like a lowsec system sitting on a shortcut between highsec regions.
(There are other things you can do with the map if you want even more information. A high number of pods killed in the last hour typically indicates pirates. You can also look at “average pilots in space in last 30 minutes” to get an upper limit of how many people might be flying around in the system.)
It’s also fairly easy to identify lowsec systems that are likely to be quiet and safe. Look for dead-end systems or systems tucked up in the corner of a region that aren’t on the way to anything important. Since there’s not much reason for non-residents to go to such places, you’re not likely to see many gate/station camps.
In Lonetrek, for example, Pakkonen is usually pretty safe, as are Dantumi-Aurohunen (though I have seen campers in Dantumi from time to time) and the Hakonen-Taisy-Otsasai triangle. Aunenen, on the other hand, is a notorious pirate system, and I generally refuse to fly through it (my survival rate there is only about 50%).
Manage your risk/reward ratio. Send the cheapest, emptiest ship you can that will do the job, and fit it for agility rather than cargo capacity. For small, high-value cargos, I use my Probe. For larger items, I send a Badger with inertial stabilizers and a shield tank. Neither one will survive a gate camp, but they are agile and fast enough to get away from nearly anything else, and cheap enough that I don’t much care if they get destroyed.
Understand how gate camps work. Typically they will camp the lowsec side of a highsec gate, and are oriented toward catching people coming INTO lowsec. Reason is simple: without warp bubbles (which aren’t allowed in lowsec), it’s hard to catch someone warping directly to a gate from within the same system.
I follow a simple rule of lowsec hauling: I only haul things OUT of lowsec, not into it. That means the only thing I risk losing to gate campers is a cheap, empty ship.
Understand how station camps work. They can be more dangerous than gate camps; they have a chance to catch you both coming and going, because when you warp to a station you sometimes come out of warp as much as 1500m from the station, and then have to spend some time flying to the docking point. Still, they can be dealt with fairly easy. Fit a microwarpdrive or afterburner so that if you end up some distance from the station, you can reach the docking point in a few seconds. If you see station campers when you undock, just dock back up and wait a while before trying to undock again.
It should go without saying that you never autopilot in lowsec. If you even considered it, slap yourself a few times and say “bad pilot.”
Lastly, some low-sec exploration tips:
- Learn how to set up “safe spots” in systems you frequent.
- Do everything you can to minimize your time in-system and on-site at an anomaly – meaning maxing your hacking and scanning skills.
- Be situation aware: use D-Scan, and don’t get so focused on your hacking that you fail to pay attention to the overview.
- When you first arrive in a system, set a waypoint on a jump gate, station, or one of your safe spots. If someone warps into an anomaly while you’re hacking it, you can then immediately jump to the waypoint.
- Don’t get greedy: if you’ve got 40 million ISK worth of stuff in the hold, it might be time to dock up and offload it before hacking that final site.
- Practice your hacking skills in high-sec so you get good at the puzzles.
I’m happy to answer questions to the best of my ability. The main thing about EVE is “be patient”; don’t expect to become an elite PVPer or billionaire overnight. The second thing is “be fatalistic.” You WILL make mistakes. You WILL be screwed over by a game mechanic you didn’t even realize was there. If you are cautious, the lesson won’t be TOO expensive. Learn from it, and turn it to your advantage.