Even if you do nuke your standings farming tags it isn’t as much of a ball-ache to fix as people think. As you approach -10 to any particular faction the value between -10 and n gets progressively smaller (where n is your standings value). so x% hit has a smaller detrimental value than if you were, say +10.
Furthermore, the Diplomacy skill substantially mitigates your negative standing to any particular Faction. So if you have Diplomacy 5 and you were, say, -10 to a faction your effective standing would be -6. So in order to achieve a goal of being above -5 i.e. -4.99 (so you don’t get shot at in that Faction’s space), you only need to progress from -6 to -5.
This isn’t hard now that you can use level 1 agents no matter standing. Simply find a corp with two or more level 1 agents in the same station (so you can accept multiple agent missions at once without having to re-dock) and grind out a few storylines. When I last did this (for Amarr) I think it took 32 missions (so 16 re-docks to accept two missions) to boost my faction standing back to above -5; a couple of hours or so. Level 1 missions are a breeze to complete, it took a couple of hours I think in all (it was a couple of years ago so difficult to give you an exact amount). Moreover, because +10 is further away from -6 than, say 0, the real value increase per standings mission is more than you might otherwise expect.
A further way to mitigate this, should you wish to be able run L4’s & L5’s reasonably quickly again for that Faction takes some preparation. In my case, when I started the game I started running missions for Amarr/Caldari, and have several corps with both for whom I have +8 standings too, even though my Faction standing (for Amarr) is presently -5.04 (I switched to Minmatar/Gallente missions). So should I wish to run those agents again, all I need to do is boost my Faction standing from below -5 to above -2. And at that point, those agents/corps that I used to run missions for become available again. Meaning that if I then want to grind my faction standings up again for them, I just need to boost my faction standing to -2 (in say, low-sec* using disposable t1 frigs n destroyers) and then I can go use the highest level agents again to get me the rest of the way.
- Or alternatively in high sec in a factions space I am not barred from. There are several Caldari agents, especially level 1’s, in Gallente space and the same goes for all other opposing factions. You just need to find them.
Lastly, even if you do go below -5 to a faction, it just means you can’t dally in their space, you can still travel through it. Capsuleers wont be able to shoot you, and the faction police dont scramble, only web (which boosts you into warp faster). Navy tag missions (whether you sell them or use them for BPC LP offers) are well worth the inconvenience, especially if you farm them so they re-spawn at downtime
Hope that helps someone. HMU if anything is unclear.
TL:DR If you go below -5 to an Empire Faction by farming tags it is no big deal. Simply train up Diplomacy a few levels, and have a t1 destroyer handy to grind from -6 to -5 if the worst comes to the worst (which will take about 2h of grinding).
Caveat (before DMC shows up talking about ‘the plan’): The problem with the plan is that the majority (if not all) of the agents on it are one-time use only. My point, is, even if you have already used the one-time agents on ‘the plan’, going below -5 is no big deal. You just need to know how standings work properly.