MEA’s Guide to Lowsec Exploration: Part 3 – Deadspace & Exploration Sites

So you’ve cut your teeth in high sec, made enough money off of managing the mission runners surplus to buy a Covops. You’ve learnt to probe targets and you’ve trained your analyzer, codebreaker and salvager modules. We all gotta start in high sec, but enough’s enough. Let’s get into Low Sec.

I’d like to take another moment to manage expectations before diving into this weeks post. In M-E-A we lika da pew pew. Our exploration focus aligns itself to our core focus in the following ways.

Probes allow us to find safed up targets and locations that may contain targets. Salvage modules allow us to make the most of our kills and get it on the isk provided by other peoples kills (I find it incredible how many elite wrecks are left in space after an engagement).

This is why a large portion of our strategic approach to exploration, which is based on low-sec opportunities, always has pew opportunities at the heart of it. It’s important that readers (all three of you) make this distinction. You could go for a Core Probe Launcher, heck, it frees up a tonne of CPU to fiddle with, but then you by and large lose out on what value you can add to the fleets we have up and will end up being more solo oriented.

None of this is problem, in fact, I started my life as a capsuleer enamored with the exploration career path and played that way for several months. It is hugely enjoyable, devoid of all political crap and definitely supports the login n go mentality that we should all have.

It just isn’t as much fun as PVP. Nothing in this game is. Even the thrill of finding a 40m isk ops manual in a radar is outlasted by a seat of the pants t1 frigate duel. You can make isk for two reasons as far as I can tell in EVE. Plex or gear or both. Plex is game time. Gear is why you buy game time.

I digress. The point is this. We explore WHILE we PVP. Our exploration activity is part of our PVP activity, a submissive sub career to it, and it makes all of us significant ISK for either agenda we may have. We generally favor the gear side because we lose a lot of it in fights.

We perform basic exploration. Our frigate focus (or fanaticism if you prefer that term) doesn’t allow us to complete DED 5’s. Although we got really close the other night with just AF’s and a Dramiel speed tanking the aggro, we needed two Canes to finish off the hive mother, but it was fun to try.

I think I’ve made my point and now it’s time to talk about the ISK making mechanics we have in place. And in my opinion, the ‘least intrusive to your PVP’ way of making ISK in low sec.

Deadspace

If you open your in-game map and look at the filters there’s one that serves very very well. The Deadspace Site Report indicates where all the non-probe requiring DED sites are in New Eden. Ok that’s great but why should I care about that?

Two reasons. DED sites drop deadspace loot, which sells very well on contract, is awesome to fit to your ship when you are feeling saucy and serves as about the most tempting bait in the game.

Secondly, the gates are locked to ship hulls of a certain size. DED rank 1 and 2’s only allow frigates and destroyers through. Low-sec is a blob fest, but you can sit at that entrance spamming d-scan in your Hurricane until the cows come home. You can probe me out, well done, but when you warp to me, you warp to the entrance and can go no further. Go get yourself a frigate/destroyer hull if you want to tango.

In MEA part of our agenda is to control the low-end DED item market by controlling the low-end DED’s. We make ISK, we get to shoot a lot of frigates coming in looking for the prize and already have 2 or 3 such sites by and large under our control.

I opened a friends hangar the other day and noted he had by my account close to 500 million isk worth of drops deposited in the 2 months he was using the hangar. All of this WHILE looking for pew opportunities.

Exploration Sites

So you’ve launched your probes and are looking for target. There aren’t any. Do you recall your probes?

No. Take an extra 5 minutes. Maybe a target does arrive and that’s a bonus. But there are some cosmic signatures that you should have a look for.

Primarily, our focus in low sec is on two kinds. Magnetometric and Radar sites. These have cans which contain very valuable loot. You deserve to earn some isk whilst flying around supporting your fleet.  You have a team of guys on hand to clear out the site of any nasty crosses. Whilst you open the cans, they deal with the crosses, and you use your modest tank to stop caring about any aggro you might receive.

If you don’t have a team and have some time on your hands while you gather intelligence and map the systems (oh THAT’S why they tell me to get the cartography cert), you can dock up and fit those guns onto your ship (see part 1 further down this page). The biggest thing you’ll come across at these sites in low-sec are NPC cruisers/bc’s, which will eventually die to your 50+ dps and your modest active tank will not have any real concerns with the damage they deal.

A true low sec explorer and junkyard dog mentality. I’m out here looking for fights, but I’ve found this ISK. I’ll take it.

Other sites, like gravimetric and ladar, cannot really be utilized with your Covops boat. It doesn’t really matter, because they take so much time to complete and the ships that can are like sitting ducks for your combat probes, I usually ignore the signature if one of those pops up but there’s no reason not to complete the scan, get the bookmark and just keep your eyes on it.

Conclusion

So there you have it. Low-sec exploration is about firstly, strangely, focusing on PVP. Why would you want to explore Low-Sec if this wasn’t the case. High Sec is the place to be if you’re not looking for fights or flying with a team that is.

Whilst looking for PVP opportunities, we can control the DED 1’s and 2’s with good frigate fleets. Fun.

Whilst looking for PVP opportunities, we can help ourselves to the Radar and Magnetometric loot we come across.

Lastly, this is why it’s very important for newer explorers not to become enamored with the Pew Imicus, or shield tanked Anathema, because they limit your opportunities and really don’t help you fulfill your primary goal in Eve. Making ISK whilst learning about PVP, target types and getting out in low sec finding fights and gathering intelligence for your corporation.

Join MEA capsuleer. You’ll find it is alot of fun to fly this way.

-Volstruis

MEA’s Guide to Lowsec Exploration: Part 2 – Salvage and Surplus Management

Welcome back. So 50 odd million ISK and some rare coreli drops might seem like some distance away at this point and the most reasonable ship you can afford to lose is a T1 frigate. Have no fear. They are suprisingly effective for ISK generation and you’ll want to hone your skills in them prior to making your way into low-sec.

Apologies for starting you out in high-sec when I know that low-sec is the goal. We all have to start somewhere, and that’s why they start us all out in high-sec. It is the perfect place to make money whilst learning the basics and getting yourself skilled up. There is a tonne of elite salvage in low-sec and we do touch on that here. If you are ready to get your capsule into a Covops hull, there’s no need to manage the mission runners surplus. Skip ahead. For those who are still finding their feet:

By now you should have a skill plan put together that is working towards the Covops discussed in the previous post (see below), based on the modules suggested, and you’ll also want to be making ISK and exploring the game rather than ship spinning.

My suggestion is that you merge all the activities I will be discussing in the next couple of posts into your time online. If you’re doing one, chances are there might be a chance to do one of the others.

Regardless of what race you are, each has two T1 frigate hulls which are worth purchasing and should cost less than a million ISK to buy and fit. You’ll want 1 of the T1 probe frigates (Imicus, Probe etc) and one of the T1 electronic attack frigates (Vigil, Crucifier etc). In true exploration style we may also want a hauler. Your racial hauler (Bestower, Iteron etc), is easy to train for, and can help you pack up and go onto the next station or base of operations and carry heavy loads of procured ore and items.

The last important consideration at this point is to pick that base of operations.

I must also say that some of the strategies I am suggesting below are considered nefarious and irritable to a large portion of the New Eden community. Tough. The mere fact that they need exploration enthusiasts to manage their surplus is  beyond me anyway. We have to unfortunately START our career in high sec, but only until we are ready for low sec. Sorry to break the bad news.

Getting Started

So you’ve gotten your T1 frigate pair and wondering what to put on them. I’ll explain the role of each of your two ships quickly. The probe-bonused ship is your eyes and ears. You use it to find hidden exploration sites and mission runners quickly. Once you are aware of your opportunities in your and surrounding systems you dock up and reship into the electronic attack frigate. These have excellent capacitors and are all quite fast. Excellent for procurement and hasty retreats.

The probe bonused ship needs to have an expanded probe launcher fit, as well as small gravity capacitor upgrades to increase your probe strength. Also pack both combat and core probes (8 of each) into its cargo-hold.

The second fitting I will post in this series is your basic procurement vessel and shouldn’t take more than a day or so to train for.

[Vigil, Fetch]

Salvager I
Salvager I
Salvager I

1MN Afterburner I
Medium Shield Extender I
Codebreaker I

Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Micro Auxiliary Power Core I
Nanofiber Internal Structure I

Small Salvage Tackle I
Small Memetic Algorithm Bank I
Small Auxiliary Thrusters I

Salvage, like a ninja.

Your first base of operations should be in a mission runner heavy system. There are several around (Dodixie, Motsu, Teonusude to name but a few) and a number of tutorials on how to probe the buggers out. A great trick is to set up your probe signature filters in the scan tab to only show battlecruisers and battleships. This will make it quicker to get a lock on them and it’s also more likely they will be doing higher level missions which yield greater amounts of npc wrecks and therefore salvage. Simply find the wreckage on overview, target and hit the salvage module when in range.

Salvage can be found elsewhere as well like static DED sites (which genuinely require their own post)  and at the belts where miners are.

Salvage also comes in different size and quality varieties. From small to large, and from standard to elite to advanced, depending on the ship destroyed to leave the wreckage behind. Large yields more. Elite and advanced yield very lucrative salvage that is used in T2 rig production. Some T2 salvage is worth 30 million ISK alone per piece.

Some interesting rules to be aware of. Concord will not or ever attack/criminal flag you for merely salvaging another man’s wreck. Concord clearly do understand the importance of surplus management. In fact, they will support you in this instance should he attack you. Mission runners will generally themselves not appreciate your efforts to help them. Try and chat with them to see how much your time is worth, perhaps they are prepared to make a donation towards your efforts, or take the opportunity to make a new friend. The choice is yours.

Concord will not attack or GCC flag you for stealing another man’s loot drops, but the player himself might. This leads to a number of tactical nuances and is a great pvp opportunity. You are more than welcome to warp away and return in something more aggressive. Now that he has shot at you Concord/gate/station fire will not intervene in your revenge.

My suggestion however is to cherry pick the loot drops. Look for valuable meta 4’s like arbalest launchers and hit n run them.

If you’re taking the plunge straight into low-sec this is how you roll. Set up an overview specifically for wrecks. DScan out the elite wrecks/wreck fields, probe the mission/site runner out and plunder away. Keep your eyes open for systems with bc’s and bs’s where the number of wrecks in the system is growing. These indicate that somebody is engaged in PVE, and creating wreck-fields. Probe the bugger out, arrive cloaked, and wait til he get’s beaten or warps off. All your wrecks are belong to us at that point.

Just don’t uncloak with him still around. He will probably shoot.

Got salvage.

Salvage is primarily used for rig production. If you are lazy like me, or don’t want to be too station bound, you can just sell it to the highest buy order for profit. Rig production will maximise your income but it will also take time to do so.

Next time I will chat about the exploration sites and your second probe filter. Once again, your comments are hugely appreciated and your applications to join our ranks desired. I can, after all, help you much more in corp chat.

-Volstruis

MEA’s Guide to Lowsec Exploration: Part 1 – Your Ship

Volstruis here. There are a number of opportunities for making ISK in low-sec. They are more risky than in high-security space, but they do make you more money. One of the primary opportunities for a capsuleer to make money whilst exploring low-security space is the art of probe-based exploration.

Generally people tend to find exploration synonymous with wormholes. Whilst they are one of the most predominant signature’s you’ll come across, they lead to a space that we aren’t focused on, w-space. Generally people will not consider other anomalies like static DED sites to be true exploration. Low-sec exploration, in my opinion, could just as easily be likened to a cow-at-abattoir mentality. We use every part of the cow. Another apt way of looking at it is consider yourself to be the premier trash collection and surplus management career path in Eve.

Also, in keeping with MEA agenda, probes can find you targets for you and your corp to shoot at too. Players tend to have the best drops, need I say more. Yes actually, don’t ever engage a player in your covop’s. Not until you’re awesome enough to do so. I am not awesome enough either.

I have no intention of teaching you how to probe. There are a million tutorials out there that will do this better than I can. Just type eve probe tutorial into youtube. You get the picture. In part 1 we’ll be focusing on the tools of the trade, starting with your most important purchase.

The Ship

The covop’s frigates like the Anathema and Cheetah are the tools of choice for this trade. There are some important considerations. You’ll want some tank, active, I’ll explain why later. You’ll also want to be as versatile as possible. Having the right tools to do deal with whatever you come across is 1/2 the fun. Low-sec is like a box of chocolates after all.

I think the Anathema, apart from being about the sexiest hull in New Eden, is the perfect tool. Below is a fitting that represents about as pimp a covops as can be made, and should be seen as the pinnacle of your training queue.

[Anathema, The Pimp Anathema]

Sisters Expanded Probe Launcher, Sisters Combat Scanner Probe
Covert Ops Cloaking Device II
Salvager II

Coreli C-Type 1MN Afterburner
Ship Scanner II
Analyzer II
Codebreaker II

Damage Control II
Coreli C-Type Small Armor Repairer
Coreli C-Type Adaptive Nano Plating

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

The above fit requires perfect fitting and ship skills to fly as well as the Zainou ‘Gypsy’ KMB-25 implant (thanks Kosh). Don’t be afraid to off-line and use T1 stuff until you get the ISK and the hang. The Cheetah can be fit almost exactly the same way, though the 5 mid Helios and Buzzard are better served with an active shield tank in the form of invulnerability fields, shield boosters, and couple of power diagnostics in your lows. You’ll need to drop the ship-scanner to fit this way, but you’ll still be able to give your corp warp-ins on potential targets.

Each covops has a modest high-slot layout for gunnery. Trust me when I say that these come in handy, put some guns/missile launchers in your cargohold and the best faction ammo you can afford. There will be crosses to shoot at, and there will be damage to tank. You’ll need to be able to deal with both, but only modestly, we are explorers right? Lastly, all the covops boats are designed to work this way. They are all just as good and cater for all preferences and your preferred style of play.

There is something to be said about using drone boats like the Worm and the Ishkur, as well as the destroyers and interdictors. Whilst they will provide you with much more tank and dps, they don’t gain a bonus to probe strength. Each explorer will need to decide whether or not the extra time spent probing is worth it. They will also only fit a core probe launcher, so no mission runners or afk safed-up ships need fear you in the slightest.

What comes next?

Over the next short while we’ll be discussing the various sites themselves, tactical opportunities for your ghost-boat in low-sec and the finer points, like how to deal efficiently with the items you’ve garnered. The next post will be aimed at players who have just completed the Exploration career tutorial and want to start making some ISK.

So to those, the very new explorers out there who enjoy the idea of learning their techniques and cutting their teeth in high sec: We’ll also be discussing how to start out, get comfortable with probing and how to make enough money to buy the covop’s of your dreams. High sec can be just as fun, especially if you, like I, consider mission runners to be a scourge of surplus creation that us explorers are inclined to want to deal with. They’ll call us ninja’s and goad us in local. Maybe one day they will realise that we are merely providing a valuable service to all of New Eden.

Lastly, I must shamelessly punt MEA as the corp of choice for new explorers. Convo me or Xi ‘xar in game. We’d love to have you on board.