Ratting is a common nickname for the practice of killing NPCs for profit in the form of bounties or the loot that they drop. This takes place in either asteroid belts or "encounters" that are scanned down via onboard scanner.
Though ratting is generally considered the most simple way to earn ISK in EVE Online, questions still crop up. Here are five of them.
5. Where is the best place to rat?
The best place to rat depends on your skills, your resources, and your tolerance for risk,
So for most players, solar systems with .5 security are the best place to find NPCs and (more likely) anomalies. Unfortunately, there is often a high amount of competition for running these sites (depending on what time of day you try and where), so you may want to go farther afield or go to a system with a higher security rating.
There is also the matter of different NPC types being vulnerable to some types of damage and not others. For example, you would not want to fight Angel NPCs with a ship using lasers. Fight enemies that your ship choices are well-suited for dealing with.
In the end, the best place to rat can only be decided by you, based on a weighing of all the options and experimenting to find your niche.
4. Does destroying wrecks increase the chance of a faction spawn occurring?
This is a persistent myth that has been around in EVE Online since at least 2006 when I started playing, but probably longer. The idea is that one of the rare faction spawns that can drop extra-valuable loot will be more likely to appear in an asteroid belt if there are no wrecks present. There is nothing to substantiate this idea. It is essentially a superstition, with no proof either way.
It has been noted that faction NPC spawns can appear even when there are other NPCs present in the belt, though not necessarily so. According to Occam's Razor, this would seem to indicate that a separate system is used for determining when and where faction spawns appear.
3. Do NPCs that use ECM electronic warfare care about my sensor strength?
NPCs that use ECM to jam your weapons are probably the most annoying kind. Theoretically, having a higher sensor strength on your ship should reduce the odds of them successfully jam you, whether the sensor strength is inherent to your ship or is a function of using ECCM modules.
For a long time there was ambiguity and conflicting statements about whether NPCs actually take your sensor strength into account when attempting to jam you. Conflicting answers were even given from within CCP.
As of very recently, the jamming was tweaked. It now takes your sensor strength into account, for sure. Unfortunately, there still seems to be some kind of error where the NPCs get too many attempts or the delay before a new jam attempt is too short. The result is mega-jamming NPCs, especially when they appear in large numbers. In short, be wary of fighting Guristas or using a marauder-class vessel until this is fixed.
2. What is the best way to loot wrecks?
Fitting your ship with a Small Tractor Beam I module is a good start. It can pull toward you any ship wreck or container resulting from a kill made by you or another member of your corporation. Do not take everything unless space really is not at a premium. Only loot the stuff that is valuable, and try to keep in mind the modules that have the most value for the space that they occupy, so that you can fill your cargo hold with loot as efficiently as possible. It may be helpful to make a list of the items that you find to be most worth picking up.
Note that if you are running a large cosmic anomaly, it may be best to run the whole thing with your ratting ship, bookmark a wreck, then return with a dedicated salvager like the noctis to vacuum up the wrecks, salvaging and looting everything. Using specialized ships generally earns you more ISK faster, rather than spending the extra time to wait for your drake to salvage everything at a snail's pace.
1. Does ratting make more ISK than running missions or mining?
How much ISK it makes depends chiefly on where you do it.
In low-sec, the belt rats and anomalies are more lucrative, but the same rule of thumb applies as to high-sec. There's also the additional risk of losing your vessel.
In null-sec, ratting in good space with a well-appointed ship can outpace even level four missions. Even without a high end ship like a tengu, a drake or raven in a good system can approach the income level of level four missions. In practice, the amounts probably work out to be about the same as a level four mission, but without requiring a standings grind to gain access. Again, there is the risk of ship loss, but for null-sec inhabitants it is generally considered to be worth it.