Exploration Guide by Kismeteer
tldr - Exploration can allow a new player to make as much as 60 mil/hour (circa Q1'23). This involves travelling around dangerous parts of space, such as C1-C3 wormholes and Null sec to find Relic And/Or Data Sites (low and high don't pay). It is recommended you watch some youtube videos on how to position probes, learn the rule of six, and generally learn how people move around space. Filaments can assist in this migration, with noise filaments being helpful to move to null sec, and Pochven filaments to move back to high sec. A Heron is the best ship to get started in, but there are other more advanced ships like the sunesis, the Covert Ops ships, and even T3 Cruisers that increase your likelihood of success.
Note, you must complete ALL the career agents before starting this path! :D A new bro will make near 0 when they start exploration but can ramp up quickly as they learn.
Exploration is a REALLY strong way to learn how to play eve and make some isk. What this involves is flying around in a couple exploration specific ships, doing either relic or data sites. You need a couple key skills:
The ship skills - The Heron has the best combo of mid slots. The covert ops is usually your next upgrade. https://www.eveworkbench.com/fitting/heron/f8620a21-1b6a-46d8-ac35-08db27d83d22
Scanning skills - Increasing your scanning skills and using a Scan Rangefinding Array I can help you.
Analyzer - You can use both Data Analyzer (for data sites) or Relic Analyzer (for relic sites).
Extra modules - The cargo scanner can help you scan what's inside a wreck before you open it. Just make sure that cans with garbage, just fail the hack twice to blow the cans before you leave.
Note, you want to consider this life cycle of choices, you should be able to afford at least 4 of one of these, you will die your first couple times:
cheap heron. Same as fit above, but minus the cloak. Alphas cannot use a cloak! These cost 2.17 mil (2023 Q1).
cheap heron + cloak. These cost 4.71 mil (2023 Q1).
Consider moving to covert ops at that point. Do not use Sisters Probe Launchers for exploration.
Starting out chars and alphas start out with #1. and can use a fewer number filaments if you want when you start. Then you start to use better gear as you move up.
Alphas do have lower skills than omega as well. These max out at Hacking (Data) 3, Archaeology (Relic) 3, astrometric acquiring/range to 2, astrometrics to 3, caldari frig to 4, spaceship command 4, and evasive 3, navigation 4. none of the rest of your skills matter to exploration really.
Note, the Astero is a non-starter because of cost, they are REALLY expensive. And do not rely on getting into a covert ops as a solution, as they can die too. Especially if they don't fit a interdiction nullifier because they didn't research enough!
Make sure to modify your UI as well. by hitting 'alt-P' while in space, it brings up the probe scanner and the map. You can undock the probe scanner results from the map by clicking the box next to the X in the top right corner. You can also undock the map from the whole screen and shrink it down a smaller amount. There are buttons at the bottom to view straight down or from the side, or you can just double click on it. You can do the same thing with the dscan window. Take a minute making these the correct size!
It's important to have fixed your Overview as well along with your dscan filter appropriately. Some of the space you enter has a large amount of clutter. Going in with a default overview can be dangerous, as evidences from the video below.
You have to set safety to 'yellow', it's in the top left of your capacitor. Note, this can get you to aggress in empire accidently, so be careful with it!
If you plan to use the 'exit' wormholes in pochven, it's a great idea to get positive standings with both triglivian and edencomm beforehand. In the video below, if I had done this, I would have been fine and 20 jumps from jita. :D My Null sec ratting guide has an algos fit that can complete this easily and is cheap, but any SOE destroyer will work.
I *HIGHLY* recommend you read the document rather than the video though. I missed these steps, and you can see the result below.
Skill Training plan
I'd recommend the following skill training plan:
Caldari Frigate 3 and the AIR Explorer plan under 'Skill Plans | Certified Plans | Explorer'. You can skip the other skills that don't match up, like Gallente frigate.
Frigate 3, astrometric range finding 2 will help you find the sites. and then training Hacking 3, Archaeology 3 will get you the ability to open the sites, once you understand the Rule of Six, below.
The reason I think it is the strongest way to learn eve is that it teaches you, in a trial by fire, how to do VERY useful things in eve.
1. You learn to transverse hostile or unknown space. You generally fly through null sec or wormholes, looking for sites to do. You have to go through gates that are VERY hot from time to time. Learning how to transverse wormholes makes it easier to move around space. I cannot recommend enough learning how to learn drfiter holes to help with this, as mentioned in a previous tip of the day.
2. You learn when it's safe to do a site. Safe is sometimes dangerous with someone in local but guessing when is important.
3. You accomplish something complicated, quickly, to minimize risk.
4. Get the loot home safe. 😄
There are a lot of good youtube videos out there, though some might be a bit out of date. There are constantly changes to the loot tables as well, and the values of those things. But finding a gila blueprint is a good find, for instance. 😄
To Hack, it's simple: it's minesweeper. You see a 1? you have a 'good node' near there, you want to find it. It can be a subsystem that improves your chances or breaks a node or shields you. If it's a white node, that's 50/50 good/bad so never use them unless you're hosed. If you see a 5, that means a good node is very far from you.
Viruses and subsystems
When hacking, you quickly try to move to the otherside of the map. The end is nearly always on the far side, or 8 blocks away from the end. But try to aim for the rule of six nodes in between. Your health and attack is in the bottom left corner, health on the left, and attack on the right.
In between, it will give you numbers. These numbers mean one of three things:
There is the system core aka the end. The color indicates the difficulty of the site, green, yellow, red.
There is a Utility Subsystem. These appear at the bottom once you collect them, and you should ALWAYS collect them first before moving on. 1 will use slot 1, etc.
There is a data cache, that could have a Subsystem OR a virus. Only use these as a last resort!
It is good to explore all the '1's to find all the subsystems.
You immediately use the Repair subsystems. You save the secondary vectors for things with high damage (the bottom number), same with polymorphic shields. anbd save the kernel rot for viruses with very high shield strength, the top number.
The viruses are easy. IF it's a Restoration Node (80/10 looks like a spikey mine) or a Virus Suppressor ( 80/20 looks like 4 cornered box), these make it harder to do the rest of the site, so kill them immediately. The Firewall (40-90/20 looks like a triangle) and the Antivirus (30-60/30-40 looks like a normal box) you can sometimes detour around. But if you run into a Restoration node or Virus Suppressor, you might lose. Once you reach the system core (50-90/10), you usually can win.
If you are completely hosed, start opening data caches (the white nodes), and you might get lucky.
https://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Hacking has a bit more detail on these, though i think the video below is more clear.
Rule of six
You need to learn how this works BEFORE you show up in a site. The more challenging sites cannot be cracked without using this trick. Watch the video.
The basics is that a node that has 6 connector things is safe UNLESS it is near the end. So you go to the ones surrounded by six, solve those because they're safe, and if it wasn't safe, the end is RIGHT there.
The rule of six makes things a lot easier. https://www.twitch.tv/videos/66858036
If you need a longer tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5uQC74VvVQ
Where to go and what to do
To use these, you have three options:
High sec/low sec. This is just training on how to run them with almost no risk. These don't pay very well.
Wormholes. Class 1 through Class 3 (look for Regions starting at A through C) in wormholes have a higher chance of good sites spawning for you.
Null sec. Using a noise filament to throw you into random null sec space. Empty null sec is VERY empty. Some space is much stronger than another, or might be more or less busy. START IN NULLSEC
You can EASILY identify C1-C3 wormholes through this message on the 'show info': "This wormhole seems to lead into Unknown parts of space."
So the usual cycle is to use a noise filament, look on the agency in game for sites. You learn which space is good and which is bad, for instance rogue drone space doesn't have relic sites. While you explore, you find wormholes that could lead to null or low sec. Dumping your loot to low or high is a good idea, and just plan to pick it up later. Offloading your loot prevents you from having a major loss. You also want to make sure you have local open in a separate long window so you can see when systems fill up with people.
Once you get out into Null sec, go to Agency | Navigation | Cosmic Signatures and it shows you all nearby systems with a bunch of Cosmic Signatures. All have potential to be data/relic sites.
See below for which sites you can run, considered 'safe'. You can later take on the 'unsafe' spots. Just search for the site name in google.
A low end ship costs you a mil or two, and the career agents give you starting ships for this journey. The modules don't cost very much. You then want to get your loot exfiltrated to a Trade hub to sell for best price, I recommend Jita (And possibly Amarr.)
Note, NEVER autopilot, you will get ganked in empire, killed in low sec, it's WAY too easy to track you to another gate and try again too. Any ship with more than 10 mil it's hold will die.
Bookmarks are your friends
When in doubt, get to a safe spot, wait out your aggression timer, a red spinning wheel in the top left corner. You cannot use a filament unless you have no aggression.
You can wait out this timer at a 'safe spot'. To make a safe spot, you warp to a moon mining spot, and while in warp, you hit control-B to start making a bookmark, give it a name, and then hit enter when you want it to be 'saved'. You can have your same probe window open to see where you have bookmarks in system. You can also use these mechanisms to scout gates on the inside, and if someone tries to catch you on the far side of the gate, just burn back to gate as quick as possible. Using d-scan aimed at a gate after warping to a nearby moon works well to check it.
When you're in a bookmarked safe, you CAN be scanned down. But you can see combat probes by hitting 'v' which shows you the dscan of all ships and objects around you. If you see combat probes, you have to be bouncing safes, warping to new things and hitting control-b and hitting enter several times.
To manage your bookmarks, Hit 'L' in game and it will open locations. There is a button to 'pop out' the locations as well, making it easier to see what you have bookmarked in system. Hitting enter picks a default name, I recommend renaming everything ASAP. I use the following naming:
XX MJ-5 300k UP - This is a bookmark 300 km above the MJ-5 gate in your current system.
ss MJ-5 - This is a safe NEAR MJ-5, so you'll be in dscan
UD Station VII-5 - This is the insta undock from Station at planet 7, moon 5
DOCK Station VII-5 - This is a bookmark right on top of the station.
WH AJI to low (LS)- This is wormhole signature AJI to low sec that can take large ships (That you have not scouted yet)
WH AJI to Uemon (LS) - Same wormhole after you find out it goes to Uemon system.
WH JIM to C5 (VLS) - Wormhole signature JIM-512 to a class 5 (Dangerous Unknown) with a size of Very Large Ships
WH JIM to C5 (EOL) - End of life wormhole that shouldn't be used because it can collapse. EOL means 0 to 4 hours left in it.
Always always always bookmark your position when you first come into a system with a wormhole. So you don't lose it. Control-b and hitting enter is easy.
Dodging hostiles is a 'learned skill'. You need to get practice to know when systems could be safe and when they might be hot as hell.
In wormhole space, you can check the system on zkill to see if the system seems active or not. This isn't always necessary but can give you indications. Also, look for structures, that can mean someone lives there. And if you see ships, they for sure see you unless you can cloak.
In nullsec, it's a little easier. You can see them coming in local, this is why you split local out on it's own in a tall box to see more people and shrink their icons so you can see more.. See my Eve UI page on how to arrange your screen.
You can use the Directional Scanner to see other ships in space, or alt-d. You want to split out the map and it by clicking the box inside the interface to split maps and the interfaces, same with the probe scanner. To activate the scanner, you hit 'v'. Using this is part of the dangerous space life. :D
Once you see core probes launched that are NOT yours, that's bad, they could be probing your site. If you see combat probes, they could be probing you, which can be VERY bad.
So let's put this all together. Let's say you get dropped off in a system called 'C3J0-O'. (Note the 0 zero and O letter o!)
First, you look in local. You can see hostiles in it. bad sign. gotta move! Warp to a moon or something. Hit control-b to make a bookmark, warp back to the bookmark.
You can then check dotlan for jumps. This shows you how active nearby systems are https://evemaps.dotlan.net/map/The_Kalevala_Expanse/C3J0-O#jumps. Wow REALLY hostile here.
You then check the 'kills' section to see where people are dying. This means camps etc. https://evemaps.dotlan.net/map/The_Kalevala_Expanse/C3J0-O#kills
Finally, you can look at the type of kills on zkill https://zkillboard.com/system/30002858/ Do they have a dictor out and about?
You can use gatecheck to see if there are gate camps https://eve-gatecheck.space/eve/
But this is just ENTIRELY too hot, plus it's drones lands so no relic sites, so time to bounce! If you have aggression, you have to do next steps.
You do what is called 'bounce safes'. You warp to a moon, at range, and while in the middle of your warp, hit control b, give it a name, and hit enter to save it. The 'enter' solidifies the location, so make sure you're in well away from things in warp before hitting enter.
Make a couple of those, move between them, wait for your filament to cool off. If you see combats, make new safes. You stay constantly moving if you see combat probes.
Filament out. You can also use a wormhole you probed.
Hostiles chasing you
If you see hostiles on a gate you are going through, here are some steps you can take:
You want to try to burn (Burn: apporach gate, turn on microwarpdrive) back to gate AS SOON as you can.
Play a gate game:
When you reach gate, if they shot you, they are aggressed aka weapons timer. Ships with a weapons timer cannot take a gate. You get aggression but that doesn't stop you taking a gate.
If they put a warp disruptor on you, you will not be able to warp off, but can still take a gate or a wormhole if you can reach 2,500 meters. If they put a warp scrambler on you, they stop your MWD, but as long as you make the gate, you'll be fine. If they web you, you might be hosed, but keep trying to make the gate.
If you reach the gate, and they did not aggress you, you can then try to warp off to a planet at range.
This threat of warping out usually causes them to warp disrupt you, then you take the gate because they are aggressed aka Weapons timer, and cannot follow you through.
Once you are in the previous system, and you have hostiles chasing you, you have two choices: You can burn multiple gates away if the system is empty. Or you can just go to a safe spot and filament out. If you have aggression timer, you have to wait 15 minutes for it to wear off.
To bounce safe spots, you warp to a planet (or a moon mining point!) and hit control b while warping. This makes a personal spot in space for only you. They would have to use combat probes to find you. And if you are not running your microwarp drive, this can be very challenging. If you see *8* Combat probes inside 1 AU, you should warp to another safe.
You are just burning time till you can filament. If you forgot filaments, you can safe log (hit escape and logoff) and try later. If you forgot filaments, you can find a thera hole on Eve Scout to find a way back to high sec.
To use a filament, you need to have
No aggression. It will be ticking down in the top right corner if a player attacked you or you used one. It takes 15 minutes to lose aggression.
It needs to be in your cargohold, unstacked with other filaments.
You need to form a fleet of just who is going with you, ie just yourself. Neocom | Social | Fleet, and drag that fleet button onto the bar on the left.
Everyone in the fleet needs to have safety set to yellow. It's just to the top left of the capacitor.
You need to be 1,000 km away from a structure. Warp to a planet at range, hit control-b and hit enter mid warp, and warp back to make a safe spot.
Each jump gives you 15 minute aggression, so 15 minutes till your next filament.
To use, you right click on the filament in your cargo, activate it.
Then you need to figure out where you are going. There are a lot of filaments and they go different places.
Abyssal Filaments - These don't take you anywhere, these are for doing Abyssals space PVE content. 5 weather types and intensities
Jump Filaments - aka Needlejacks. Goes to Null sec. Comes in 5, 15, 25 fleet members varients. Exploration uses 5's.
Noise - Random null sec location. Great for finding a nice quiet spot of eve. Might take a few to find someplace good to do exploration.
Signal - 'space with players' null sec location. Usually seems to focus on ratters. Good for large groups to get back to your ansi network.
Pochven filaments inbound - used for entering pochven, comes in 5,15 fleet sizes. Takes you inside the 'Triangle' of pochven.
Border - Takes you to the borders of the triangles, good for exfil to jita.
Home - Takes you to home of the focus of the triangles, CAN be hard to exit the gates due to standings!
Claidistic - Takes you near the edges of the triangle, 3 variations depending on the home.
Internal - Along the edges of triangle.
Pochven filaments outbound - Used for leaving pochven back to high sec. Comes in 1, 5, 15 fleet sizes.
Glorification 'Devana' - Used for exiting at a random system near the old pochven gates, very random, but the -1 is super cheap.
Proximity 'Extraction' - Used for going to very specific systems, math below here.
So the usual route that explorers take:
Noise-5 filament -> explore -> find loot -> find a wormhole to high sec!
Noise-5 filament -> explore -> find loot -> Pochven inbound (internal) -> Pochven outbound (Glorification-1)
Noise-5 filament -> BAD REGION -> Noise-5 filament -> Null sec block home! -> dead
Noise-5 filament -> Explore -> find loot -> signal-5 filament -> travel jump gates home!
Note, some people don't care for drone regions because there are no relic sites, but the data sites can more than make up for it. https://evemaps.dotlan.net/region has what region has what rats. If you're not finding anything, just filament to another region that is less busy/hostile.
I'll point out that I think drifter holes are great for exploration as well. You find a single entrance in high sec, you bookmark it both sides, then find a null sec entrance that is dead space to explore in. Done for the night? go through your bookmarks home through drifter space.
Just make sure at the end of the night you safe log inside the drifter hole so you can do it again tomorrow. Finding your first entrance can be hard, but I have maps in the other page to help you.
You could also use thera. Great for getting into that dead NPC space you want to use. Just don't use the nearest jita entrance, almost always camped in some way, so go second furthest one. 😄
https://www.eve-scout.com/ has their site and they have an in-game set of bookmarks under eve-scout.
There are a lot of filaments and not all of them are created equal.
https://pochven.electusmatari.com/ has a rundown how the filament extracts work. By using a proximity-5 'extraction' filament in blue marked system with a blue sun, you generally will be near Jita. This is why these filaments are 7 mil now. However, if you use a Glorification-1 'Devana' Filament, you could be scattered anywhere, but they also only cost 10k in pochven.
The ones we usually run with, it's better to extract using the system Urhinichi, Otanuomi, and Ahtila. But Senda, Arvasaras, Sakenta, and Kino also work, depending on which is closest.
However, this is next level strat and is not required for most just trying to get back to high sec. :D
At any point, you feel 'oh god I'm going to die here', you can asset safety your stuff. This will evac your stuff to low sec.
You find a hostile citadel, astra, fortizar, etc. You warp to it. Open up cargo hold. Dump stuff in. Congrats, it is now safe.
It will then take 5 days to work it's way through asset safety freeze. Then 20 days to move to the nearest low sec site.
If you use sister probes, make SURE to unload your launcher and dump it as well. heh
Can read more about evacing it under my Asset Safety
Safe site summary - Relic/Data sites
https://whtype.info/safe-explo has a easy to follow graph of what sites are safe and which are unsafe.
These sites are the ones that are safe for an explore from rats or exploding cans.
High sec - Crumbling or Local - SAFE
Low sec - Decayed or Regional - SAFE
Null sec - Ruined or Central - SAFE
Wormholes - Ruined or Central - SAFE
Note these wormhole sites only spawn in C1-C3. or Regions that start with A-, B-, or C-.
All other not listed sites are unknown or NOT safe. Forgotten, unsecured, abandoned, covert, sleeper sites are all not safe, for instance.
Confused? use the https://whtype.info/safe-explo guide.
The heron is the best for the low end ships. It has 5 mids, so it's why it is used. But any exploration ship can be used, can fit yours similar to these, maybe adjust the mids.
The next upgrade would be the buzzard or other covops ships. These are cheap.
There are other options to do exploration, but most are too expensive to risk.
The Astero is good for hunting other exploration ships and exploring. Sadly, very expensive.
The T3Cs like the tengu, loki, legion, proteus are good for hunting other explorers as well. Dropping in price but not great at doing exploration.
The sunesis can be good but isn't much better than the heron other than the tank and cargo space. More expensive.
Once you hit around 85 scan strength, you can find like 90% of sigs, and at 104, you can find nearly everything. 114 or so is I think the top end you need, and past that, it doesn't matter that much, other than doing 3 clicks down instead of 2.
Do not overbling your heron, or you end up with very silly loss mails like this: https://zkillboard.com/kill/108656303/
I've listed my recommended fits below, thanks to the EveO community for these ideas.
You can copy this fit, from the heron to the Noise line, and there is an import button in the fitting window to buy this fit exactly. I recommend finding the cheapest pochven filament as well, any of them work.
You cannot use civilian data and relic analyzers, you must use at least a T1 one.
Needlejack gets you out to null, the Pochven filament gets you into pochven to evac your loot, and the devana gets you to regular space.
Note, Alpha's cannot use the cloak, so removed it from this one.
Omega required for cloak. Note the sister probes are very expensive, so make sure you are able to survive pretty well before doing this upgrade! You can do 8 sisters as well, just have to be ready to reload them constantly. (cannot reload while holding cloak)
This defaults to using sisters, you have the spares in case you disconnect or screw up.
Expanded launcher so you can fit combats, 'just in case'. you can do a tankier version as well if you think you're fine on scanning ability. Note, can do with a core prober if you're not a pro. You have to offline/online modules, like a professional. If this is confusing, don't worry about it, put a core launcher on it and don't stress.
But why don't I use...
Because it costs money and does worse. I've included a few graphics on this, since this is hard.
All of this information is from 'show info', Variations, Compare. You can do this math yourself if you want. But the key take aways:
The low cost of the exploration ships is the reason we advise those.
The high number of mids on the heron is the reason we advise it over the other exploration ships.
All the covops ships are way better due to the high hacking ability of +10 and high speed while cloaked, while being VERY cheap.
Cheetah is my preferred due to the extra low and being the most nimble.
Buzzard is the one i posted due to the high cpu and the 5 mids.
Helios is popular due to easy fitting and nimbleness, along with 5 mids.
Anathema is fine. :D
The high cost of the astero is the reason we advise against it, 110 mil right now. This makes you a VERY big target because you're easy to kill.
Goes double for the the Stratios, though that one can do some protected sites.
The CPU concerns rapidly escalate if your skills are not great.
Pandemic Horde exploration
I decided to do a Pandemic Horde specific section.
Horde characters operate SLIGHTLY differently. They have complicated maps to know where they can and cannot rat. https://www.pandemic-horde.org/forum/index.php?threads/horde-isk-making-rules-areas-and-industry-areas-v-2-0.3738/ has those maps, and there is a more simple version google sheet available as well on requrest in channel. You can only rat/explore in your designated areas, cannot use friendly space, etc. So you have to go further afield.
Pandemic Horde Inc is 'non-gated', meaning you cannot do activities in 'gated' space or allied or rental space. This gate is if someone has checked your ESIs, saying "We don't think he's a spy". It's 64 systems for non-gated and 163 systems gated, so a bit of space. But the exploration options might be heavily picked over. You cannot do exploration in our renter or allied space though, which is like 6 regions that are blocked off for you.
So you use filaments, might get thrown to horde space. You can find easy wormholes added to standing fleet to find a push towards an area. You can easily just burn using the jump bridge networks beyond our space towards insmother and venal. You can use thera holes.
I cannot overstate how helpful the jump bridge network is to move VERY quickly. What was 25 jumps can be 6 jumps.
So, being in horde, you have a major advantage in evacing loot. If you are carrying 3 Signal-5 'Needlejack' Filament filaments, you will have a GREAT chance to being our 'radar cup' of our jump bridges if you're done for the day. I have landed 3 off MJ-5 regularly using these. Didn't work? wait the fifteen minutes and do another.
Have questions about this further, ask in #newbeans. We almost always have bitter vets with yellow names answering questions.
Why do you keep pushing exploration?
This is the most common question I seem to be fielding recently.
We keep pushing because it has a lot of positives for new players
It can pay well, even with newbie skills
Empire for newbie things pays for shit. 60 mil an hour is the going rate we've been saying for exploration.
It is easy to get into because it only takes a 2 mil frigate.
It scales well, because it's so much effort normally, there are not a lot of bots out there.
It teaches you SO many useful skills
How to read dscan
How to hammer v for scan :D
How to watch local
How to research intel
How to plan a route
How to gate check
How to deal with markets
How to turn that money into useful stuff.
It also gets you out there, making you realize how fucking BIG eve is. It's HUGE.
You learn so many tools along the way as well, like dotlan, zkill, etc.
You have a proven record to make money on your own, without anyone's help.
You look better for corps who are recruiting because you are out there flying and not just staying safe in empire.
It can lead to interactions with other players, some of who might even recruit you. :D
So, get out there, lose 5 herons, get a 100 mil haul, get paid, learn the game somewhat. :)
I will just give some ideas on this. We regularly have newbies make their first 20-30 mil on their first run, nearly tripling their wallet. If you have success stories, please give me them. :D
Azur Sklor — Today at 2:32 PM
A two week old player:
Fayawizard: yeah i just did a 1 hour null sec run and got 180 mil
Exploration is such an easy way to get isk it took me like 5-6 runs to get 500 mil
After the first few you learn how to avoid other players and from there it’s relatively smooth sailing
https://wiki.eveuniversity.org/Relic_and_data_sites - Has VERY helpful chart showing what is safe!