How exploration mini-games actually works?

I started exploring but I am quite confused about some things, please help:

  1. the number inside each node, does that mean the distance from a “good” node, or any non-empty node?
  2. how come sometimes the number in nodes say 4 or 5 but defensive subsystems immediately show up in the next node?
  3. why are some nodes shown as a white bubble when I clicked it for the first time? but when I click again it appears to be random defensive subsystems?
  4. I spent like 1 hours grinding exploration but didnt find a single good data/relic cache, then I found a level 4 concord data site thats super hard and failed 3/4 of the cans. what systems are best for exploring?

plz help me thanks a lot.

  1. It’s the distance to a good node. Good nodes include the system core, but also utility tools.

  2. The distance to good nodes says nothing about the distance to bad nodes, there might be bad nodes in between.

  3. The white bubble may contain utility tools, but can also be a defensive subsystem. The best idea is to go past it before clicking it and only click it if you could use a tool, so that in case it happens to be a defensive subsystem you’re already past it and can continue looking for the system core on the other side.

  4. The systems that are best for exploring, in my experience, are relic sites in Sansha space because of the high value of the Intact Armor Plates that those sites regularly contain. Catch and Stain are two regions in null sec Sansha space that are good for exploration for that reason. Downside is that other explorers do the same thing, so it’s sometimes crowded and people may know how to hunt explorers. And it can be hard to find sites when someone else has just done all the sites in front of you on your route.

Here are some extra sources that may be useful to you:

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It’s the distance to a “good” node, which includes the system core (the thing you want to destroy), utility subsystems (the stuff that you can apply to help your hack succeed), and data caches (which can contain utility subsystems or defensive subsystems)

The number doesn’t refer to the distance to defensive subsystems; those can show up anywhere.

Those would be the data caches, which can contain either utility or defensive subsystems. As Gerald said, you should ignore those and only use them as a last resort.

Highsec is good when you’re trying to learn how scanning works - the money is crap, but there’s little risk. Think of it as a training ground. J-space (Wormholes) and nullsec are both good, but you have to make sure to only go into C1-C3 wormholes. Also, be aware that the only undefended hacking sites are the ones with pirate factions in their names (Serpentis, Blood Raiders, Guristas, Sansha, Angels) - there are also exploration sites in wormhole space that are defended by sleepers. Lowsec is good when you’re hunting event sites, but as you found out, those are pretty hard. They’re good money though, so they’re always worth a try.

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okay got it, thanks a lot guys! I will try to get more stuff

btw are guristas space good for exploring? I heard venal is guristas space and their faction modules worth a lot. also I heard essence and sinq liason have more sites spawning, not sure if true. what about weird jove empire space? r those good?

Guristas relic sites are pretty good too! Slightly behind Sansha, but they have good value in their cans.

Here’s a nice comparison, few years old but I think it hasn’t changed much:

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