Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Solo? In My Eve?

So a lot of people seem to want a guide on the opportunities available to a solo pilot in EVE.  There are quite a few opportunities so for the sake of keeping this post readable, I'll write a little bit about each opportunity and hopefully expand on them in future posts.  Let me preface this by saying that almost all of the time, solo gameplay will not be as rewarding as group gameplay, be it in ISK or in fun.  In addition, many of these activities can be much more enjoyable for those who choose to multibox more than one account at once, eg. in mining or ratting.  However, not everyone can afford that.  Now, to the list:

  • Mining - If I'm completely honest with you, the majority of players will find mining very boring.  It's not for everyone (read: sane people) but some people find it enjoyable.  For example, Chribba, one of the most famous EVE pilots, loves relaxing in roid belts in highsec mining Veldspar.  Mining solo isn't usually very profitable.  You might make a few million ISK an hour, but without additional support, it's kind of pointless.  However, it can be very lucrative if multiboxed.  One could make hundreds of millions of ISK every day running a few accounts with some Hulks and an Orca in nullsec.  It takes an initial time and capital investment, as well as iron willpower, but it can be done entirely by one person.
  • Missioning - Missions, particularly level 4 missions, are another way to make decent money with almost no risk in Highsec.  Running missions for a corporation grants you ISK, loot, salvage, and loyalty points.  This is pretty straight forward really, just pick a corporation and start doing missions for them until level 4 agents are unlocked.  The easiest way to make ISK is to get a good ship (Tengus tend to work best) and find a level 4 security agent.  After accepting a mission, you can look it up here to find out the details of the mission and change your tank and damage type accordingly.  For more information on missioning, check out the relevant article on Grismar's EVE Wiki.
  • Ratting - I wrote a (bad) guide about nullsec ratting.  Though it is riskier than the above activities, it can be more lucrative, certainly for someone with only one account.  There are two types of ratting: ratting in asteroid belts and in anomalies.  Ratting in asteroid belts produces less ISK per hour than anomalies, but it gives you the chance to kill a rare officer spawn, which can give you loot in the billions.  I have only ever killed one officer, but he dropped around 2 billion ISK in loot.  Belt ratting consists basically of warping from belt to belt killing rats and hoping for an officer spawn.  Ratting in anomalies is a little different.  Open up your scanner, go to the system scanner tab, and use your on-board scanner to scan the system for anomalies.  They range in difficulty and the more difficult they are, the more valuable they tend to be.  More information on specific anomalies can be found online.  Anomalies provide steady ISK per hour in the form of bounties, but they can provide additional revenue two other ways.  The first is through faction spawns, which are rare spawns similar to officers but not as valuable.  They drop loot such as Dread Guristas modules which can sell for hundreds of millions of ISK.  The second way is through escalations, which can turn an ordinary anomaly into a bookmark for a DED plex, such as a 10/10 Maze escalation which can be worth billions.  
  • Daytripping Wormholes - Daytripping in a wormhole involves going into a wormhole alone, running some sites, and leaving in the same day.  It can be done entirely solo provided you have the capabilities of being self-sufficient (scanning, looting, salvaging, and killing on your own).  Rather than going in-depth on my own, I'll point you to a rather well written guide written by redditor paxNoctis.
  • Solo PVP - Solo PVP isn't as much a way to make ISK as it is a way to have fun.  It's pretty easy but far too complex for the scope of this post.  The basics are to fit a nice solo-capable ship, find some targets, and pewpew.  A lot of fits are available at  Targets can be found everywhere, but for some quick fights try heading into Faction Warfare space in Lowsec.
If anyone has any more suggestions for additions to the list, feel free to drop a comment on this post or shoot me a PM on reddit (toxicity959) and I will update the list as your suggestions come in.  Fly safe everyone! o7

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ratting for ISK

"Ratting" in EVE is the process of killing NPC pirates to collect ISK.  There are multiple ways to rat, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Belt Ratting - Belt ratting is when you warp between the asteroid belts of a system killing the rats that spawn to collect bounties.  In general, the lower the security status of the system is, the higher quality the rats will be.  This means they will be more difficult to kill, but also have higher bounties, increasing ISK/hour if you can handle them.  Three types of special spawns are possible when belt ratting.  Hauler spawns are comprised of an escort and a hauler, which will contain minerals in its wreck, most commonly just over 3 million units of Tritanium.  Faction spawns, such as Dread Gurista rats, can drop expensive faction modules, and they have increased bounties.  Officer spawns are the rarest special spawns, and their loot can be worth billions of ISK, the best quality items in EVE.  A faction spawn usually occurs once every 20-50 spawns cleared, and an officer spawn is even rarer, occuring once for every 20-40 faction spawns, or once every 400-2000 cleared spawns[1].

Anomaly Running - Anomaly ratting consists of using your system scanner to find anomalies in space which are similar to 1-pocket missions.  Anomalies do not have acceleration gates.  They are wave after wave of rats, providing many opportunities for making ISK.  To find an anomaly, open your scanner and open the System Scanner tab.  Select your On-Board Scanner and hit scan.  After 10 seconds, you should see a list of all available anomalies in the system.  A list of the difficulty levels of various anomalies can be found here.  Each anomaly is different in structure, but the basics remain: warp in and shoot everything.  Like belt ratting, bounties are the main source of income from anomalies.  Anomalies can also contain faction spawns, like belts.  However, anomalies cannot spawn officers.  Instead, they have a chance to produce an escalation.  An escalation will make a bookmark in your journal for a DED complex in another system (see below).

Complex Running - Complexes are similar to full missions.  They have waves and acceleration gates.  However, complexes give rewards in the form of ISK from bounties, as well as loot at the end of the complex.  Complexes can either be scanned down with probes or acquired as escalations from anomalies (see above). Complexes from escalations are more difficult than the anomaly that escalated to them.  They can offer loot such as faction type modules (eg. Pith A-Type Large Shield Booster) and Overseer's Effects, which can be sold to NPC buy orders for ISK.  They can also be disappointing, offering only Overseer's Effects, which will amount to about the same ISK/hour as regular anomalies with a little more work, or very lucrative, with billions of ISK worth of loot as a reward.

The general rule with ratting is that the lower the security level of the space you're ratting in is, the better the spawns will be.  This means tougher spawns with higher bounties in the case of belt ratting, or more/more difficult anomalies/complexes spawning.  This also rings true for the truesec of a nullsec system (eg. a -1.0 will offer the best ratting, while a -0.3 system will offer worse ratting).  In most cases, ratting/exploration in high security space won't be worth it.  Your wallet would be better off if you spent your time running missions or some other activity.  Ratting gets better in low security space, but it really shines in nullsec.

To properly rat in nullsec, you need to fit the right ship for the space you're ratting in.  The factors you should take into consideration are how safe you are in that space and the type of rat you'll be fighting.  The first step in choosing and fitting a ratting ship is to figure out what kind of rat you'll be fighting and choose accordingly.  A simple list of the type of damage your ship should deal and tank based on the faction of rat you'll be fighting is[2]:
  • Guristas: Kinetic then Thermal damage
  • Blood Raider: EM then Thermal damage
  • Sanshas Nation: EM then Thermal damage
  • Serpentis: Kinetic then Thermal damage
  • Angel Cartel: Explosive then Kinetic damage
In general, the type of damage you want to deal to a rat is the same type of damage the rat will be dealing to you.  Different ships will do better against different factions, so choose with care.  For example, the Ishtar is a popular ship to rat Guristas with because of its naturally high base Kinetic/Thermal resists and the fact that its drones will do lots of Kinetic/Thermal damage.  

Once you've figured out the type of damage you'll want to tank, you need to choose a ship based on how safe the space you're ratting in is.  A blingy faction battleship might be a good idea if you're ratting in the middle of a blob of friendly nullsec, but for "ninja ratting" in hostile territory, you'll want something smaller and faster.  Another reason the Ishtar is a popular choice is because it's small and fast, like a cruiser, and using a high slot for a cloak won't hurt your DPS since it's a drone boat.  Other popular choices include T3s for their ability to fit cloaks and interdiction nullifiers to escape gate camps.  If you plan on running complexes, remember to fit a probe launcher (preferably a Sister's probe launcher with Sister's probes to minimize scan time).

The same basic nullsec rules apply regardless of the space you're ratting in.  Keep an eye on local/intel channels and watch for neutral/red players.  If you have access to a dockable station/POS, dock up/get in shields when you see one of them in local.  Otherwise, head to a safe spot and turn on your cloak if you have one (which you should if ratting in space without safe stations/POSes) and wait them out.  Hopefully they'll leave soon and not try to scan you down and blob you.

For those of us lucky enough to have access to space from a big alliance, ratting is pretty easy since intel channels tend to have the area locked down.  Otherwise, your best bet will be to head to NPC nullsec and rat there.  To choose a good section of space, open your map by hitting F10, scroll to the Statistics folder and click Ships destroyed in the last 24 hours.  Look for a few systems that are quiet and don't seem to have many kills in them.  Also try to be quick and mobile, which will reduce your chances of getting blobbed and blapped.  Ratting for hours in an expensive Tengu will only make you good ISK if you don't end up losing the Tengu two hours later.

As long as you fit the ship for the right purpose (cloak if in hostile space, probe launcher if scanning for complexes) and for the right rats (make sure your damage and tank are the right types) and you keep your eye on local, you should be fine.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Death and Taxes (But Mostly Taxes)

Though you see them every time you make an order, most of the time you probably ignore the minute taxes you're charged each time you make an order.  You're probably thinking that these fractions of a percent's worth of taxes aren't something that will amount to too much ISK.

You're wrong.

A post on the EVE forums that I'm far too lazy to look up claimed that with an average profit margin of 10% on each item traded, someone who trades their way from 1 billion ISK to 2 billion ISK will lose 20 billion ISK to taxes.  I'm not sure of the validity of this statement (again, I'm far too lazy to do the math) but I wouldn't rule it out completely just yet.  Keep in mind that the default tax on each buy order is a 1% broker fee, and the default tax on each sell order is the same broker fee in addition to a 1.5% sales tax, amounting to a 2.5% loss.  It might not seem like much, but when you're filling hundreds of both buy and sell orders a day, these numbers add up.

Luckily, two skills come to the rescue.  The Broker Relations skill reduces your broker fee by 0.05% per skill level up to a max reduction of 0.25%.  This fee applies to both buy and sell orders, so though it might not seem like much, ridding yourself of a 0.5% loss with each item traded makes a significant difference to your income.  In addition, the Accounting skill reduces the sales tax you pay with each sell order by 0.15% per skill level, up to a max reduction of 0.75%, resulting in a sales tax of 0.75%.  Again, this might not seem significant, but it certainly is.

Skills aren't the only thing that can reduce the taxes you pay when trading.  Your standings with the corporation that owns the station within which you're trading also influence the broker fee you're required to pay (unfortunately, the same standings do not influence your sales tax).  Having someone run a few missions for that corporation and turn them in with you in fleet is one way to raise your corp standings and therefore reduce your broker fees when trading in that station.

That's all great and all, but now that you know about these standings, how will you know what items are worth trading and what items aren't?  An item with a huge volume moved per day but only a 1% margin between sell and buy orders might seem like a great item to trade, but in reality, it'll only shrink your wallet.  The formula for calculating this margin is very simple: % paid per buy order / % received per sell order.

For example, let's assume there's a station trader with both Accounting and Broker Relations at level 5.  His sales tax is 0.75% and his broker fee is 0.75%.  This means that when buying an item, he pays 100.75% of the item's cost to buy it and receives 98.5% of it's price when selling it (100% - 0.75% - 0.75%).  100.75/98.5 = 1.0228.  This means that to make a profit off an item after taxes, the raw profit margin on the item needs to be at least 2.28%.

Now let's take a pilot with neither Accounting nor Broker Relations trained.  101.5/97.5 = 1.041.  A pilot with both skills untrained needs to trade an item with a minimum raw profit margin of 4.1%.  This means that a pilot who trains both skills to level 5 can make profits off of trades that have a raw profit margin almost half the size of a pilot who has neither skill trained.

It goes without saying that this makes a big difference.  Though it might not seem like it to an aspiring trader, once you're managing hundreds of items, it tends to get harder to find items with decent profit margins to trade.  Training these two skills means that the variety of items you can trade and profit with is greatly increased.

TL;DR: Taxes suck, train Accounting and Broker Relations up if you want to make good money trading.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

EVE Mentat

EVE Mentat is a very powerful trading tool that can boost ISK/effort when trading immensely. It's a little tough to get a hang of at first, as everything EVE-related always seems to be, but when used properly, it can massively cut down on the amount of time it takes to update orders and it can make life a lot easier for a station trader.

After starting EVE Mentat up for the first time, you're going to have to feed it your API information.  Go to File -> Manage Characters and add your character(s) to the tool.  I didn't see any point in adding any character besides my trading character.  Once your character(s) have been added, click the Update now button on the right side.  It might take a little while for the program to complete the process of updating everything it needs to from the Internet.

Now we need to configure the preferences to make everything a little easier.  Hit File -> Preferences (or Ctrl+O) to open up the preferences menu.  First, click the Orders import category under the Import tree and change your default import source for your character orders to File.  Your API is limited to a certain number of pulls per hour, while you can keep updating your orders from file as frequently as you'd like, which I'll go into detail with later.  Next, check the next two categories, Market orders import and Market favorites import to make sure that the path to your client is correct.

The next step is one of the most important, but also one of the easiest.  open the IGB menu at the top of the page and click Enable IGB support.  This is one of EVE Mentat's most useful features and it will make your life a hell of a lot easier.

Now that the configuration's all done, let's go over some of the information available on the main page. On the bottom left corner is the Balance and actives panel, which displays a bunch of useful information about your wallet.  The Total value is very useful, as it represents the sum of your wallet balance, your sell orders, and the ISK you have in escrow for your buy orders.  Most of the rest of the information here is pretty self explanatory.  Just above the panels you'll notice a few tabs that display some very helpful graphs.  Your Balance graph will give you a nice visual representation of the changes in your ISK balance (hopefully this graph will be nicely sloping upwards).  Next is the Trade graph, which will show you the total amounts of ISK incomes and outgoes you have.  The Trade skills graph usually won't be very useful to you, but it's a nice place to check out your skills if you need to figure out what other skills to train.

Now comes the fun part: using EVE Mentat to simplify your life.

First, EVE Mentat can be used to show you the profit margins on various items you might be interested in trading.  At the top, click the Market browser tab to open the market browser, and click the Cache import button to import your market cache into the browser.  Your market cache contains the market information of every item you've looked up in the in game market.  After you've imported your cache, you'll notice that the previously empty Navigator menu on the left now has some items in it.  Clicking on an item will reveal information about it in the market browser.  However, a lot of this information isn't too useful for a station trader, especially as it's region-wide rather than station specific.  Luckily, EVE Mentat gives us a way to fix that.

You'll notice that in the Navigator menu, you're given a bunch of information to filter data by location.  How this should be used to filter results differs between station trading and region trading, but for the purposes of simplicity I'll assume you're using a character that never undocks to trade in just one station.  Go ahead and filter your results by region, then by system, and finally by station to get just the results that are relevant to you.  This data is nice and all, but how does it help you?  On the bar right underneath the tabs at the top, you'll notice a button that says Deviation on the right side.  Click this and choose the Best buy/sell price option.  You'll notice the numbers under the Deviation column in the main browser window change.  Go ahead and sort that from lowest to highest in the sell window.  What you're looking for is the lowest number.

In the picture to the left, you'll notice that I've selected the data for the Tycoon skillbook being sold in Jita.  The lowest number in the Deviation column is 22.5%.  That means that there's a 22.5% profit margin on this skillbook; buying a Tycoon skillbook with a buy order and reselling it with a sell order at these prices would generate a 22.5% raw ISK profit.  Now keep in mind that these numbers do NOT include taxes.  The real margin is going to be lower depending on your skills.  Obviously, the higher the number, the better.  Keep in mind that this number isn't everything; a high margin is great, but it doesn't mean anything if you can never sell the item.  You'll still want to check out the market data for the item in game to check the volume moved per day and make sure it's not one of those items that moves once every month that you're tying up all your valuable ISK in.

Now that you've found the items you want to trade, you're going to have a lot of orders.  While you may not have a huge amount of orders starting out, it isn't unusual to see traders with hundreds of orders per character once they have more capital.  Going through orders one by one to update them stops being feasible after a point.  Luckily, EVE Mentat is here to come to the rescue.

Remember the IGB option we enabled earlier?  It's time to use it.  At the top, click on the IGB menu and click Copy IGB url to clipboard.  Now, open up EVE.  First, open up your wallet and hit the Export button at the bottom to export information about your orders to a file.  Next, open your in game browser (click on the big E in the very top left corner, go to Accessories and click on Browser.  Now, paste the URL we just copied into the browser.  You'll also want to bookmark this for later use.

From here, click the Market scanner: character orders link at the top.  This fun tool contains a list of every item you have an open order on.  Its purpose is to go through each item on the market, saving the latest data about the item to your cache.  The default scan delay is 3 seconds; I find that with my computer and connection, it's safe to set it to 2 seconds to save time.  You can change it as you like, but make sure that it provides enough time for the market window to load the orders available for an item before it moves on to the next one, or else you'll be missing out on data on your orders.  Start the scan and sit back and relax while it goes through the list pulling data for each item.

Once it's done, go back to EVE Mentat.  In the Market browser tab, click on the Cache import button again to import the latest market cache, which will now contain data about each one of the items you have an order up for.  Next, click on the Character orders tab and click on the File import button at the top.  Your window should now display each one of your orders, and next to each, it will display the status of the order.  Orders that say Fulfilled have been filled; if your orders have been fulfilled, you'll want to remake them in order to keep trading items you want to.  Orders that say Ok are currently the lowest sell/highest buy order on the market, meaning you won't need to interfere with the order just yet.  Orders that say Price overrode, which will likely be many of them, are orders that are currently not where you want them to be in the market.

If you click on the number under the Price column of one of these orders, you'll notice a fun window appear with information about your order, as well as the orders of your competitors.  Take a look at the information displayed to decide if you should change the order to be the best on the market.  Sometimes, someone might undercut you heavily with a single unit of an item, forcing you to change your price so they buy you out.  Other time, the item might have gone too low for you to make a profit on, and so you should hold off until the market recovers.  As fast as it would be, it is unwise to blindly copy numbers over to update all of your orders.  If you decide to change the order, EVE Mentat has got your back.

You'll notice a Copy new price button in this menu.  By clicking this button, EVE Mentat will put the new suggested price for the item in your clipboard, ready to paste in EVE.  The default is to go 0.01 ISK above/below the current best order, but this margin is adjustable in the preferences.  There is also a check box on the right that you can check to make EVE Mentat automatically copy the new price to your clipboard upon opening this menu, further reducing the amount of effort you have to put in to make boatloads of ISK.

Once the price is copied to your clipboard, all you have to do is open up your wallet window in eve, right click -> Modify Order on the relevant order, and paste the new price in and hit enter.  Using EVE Mentat to manage your orders will make your life a hell of a lot easier and it'll cost you a lot less time to go through all your orders and make sure they're the market best than it would take you to do it by hand, once you get the hang of it.

You can download EVE Mentat here.  Note: As of 2-17-13, the website says this is the latest version, but in fact it is not.  Once you start up EVE Mentat for the first time, you will be prompted to update to version 1.2.16, which you should do with the automatic updater tool.  


Let me start of by running down what this blog will be about.  I play an MMO called EVE Online, and if you're not interested in internet spaceships, you might as well stop reading now.  I've been playing EVE for something like four years, and in those years I've done pretty much everything from highsec carebearing to nullsec pewpew.  Wormhole exploration is the only significant activity that comes to mind when considering the things I haven't done in EVE yet, though considering the size and scope of the game, I wouldn't hesitate to believe that that list is a long one.

These days, I run two accounts and mainly play three "pilots".  I put pilots in quotes because my station trading character has the ship skills of a three month old baby with a thumb in his mouth.  He's my main source of continual income.  When I don't have time to play EVE, I can usually pop in for a few minutes here and there to update my orders, which still nets me a comfy passive income.

I have another pilot whose main purpose is to fly a Tengu around nullsec and kill baddies to make me money.  While station trading is nice, I don't have enough of a financial base to make huge ISK yet, so I try to supplement my wallet through the actual playing of the game.

My third and last active pilot is my main.  He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades, and he's set up to do pretty much anything.  I've been playing on and off for years, so his skillpoint total is only just over 40 million, which is little compared to most other pilots his age but still nothing to sniff at.  He mainly flies an Ishtar support for my ratting pilot or flies in alliance PVP fleets to get the mad F1 action.

My posts will consist mainly of stories, musings, and a few guides on various topics.  Though I spend more time ratting than trading, I spend more time thinking about my trades than thinking about what rat I should F1 in the face next.  This blog is for you if:

  • You like Internet Spaceships
  • You want to learn a thing or two about EVE
  • You're interested in some of the activities I listed above
  • You hope to see me fail miserably in the future
Before I finish up this post, I'll try to give a little insight into what's coming next.  On reddit, where I go by toxicity959, I wrote up a short guide on the basics of station trading, which I'll likely rehost on this blog as well.  I said that if people were interested, I'd work on writing up a guide on using EVEMentat to increase trade profits, and since I've got some free time this week and a couple people showed interest in such a guide, I'll hopefully be able to write up something of the sort this week.  Next up, my main is less than a day away from flying a Thanatos!  Yay!  Excitement!  My posts will likely include something about how great flying it is, or how not-so-great losing it is.  Finally, I think I'll do an eve-fail-esque weekly trade report sort of thing with my station trading toon.  This will keep you guys updated on exactly what's happening in my financial world, and it'll be good for me since before this blog, I've been too lazy to keep track of my wallet from week to week.  That's all for now, so look forward to some hopefully good content in the future and fly safe!