Updated Thu, Oct 13, 2011 by Space Junkie
The standings grind is EVE Online's most traditional feature. Even as a sand box MMO there is still the option to grind missions for NPCs in exchange for rewards. Speeding up that process will save you time and earn you more ISK, faster.
If you like this guide, be sure to check out part two.
A new pilot can run missions for nearly any level one agent in EVE Online, for any NPC faction. As you run missions, you gain access to higher level agents for a given faction and any allies that faction may have. You also gain access to special kinds of agents as well as certain perks.
For a deeper explanation of the reasons to grind your standings, see our more general guide to the EVE grind.
Get access to level four missions in days, not months.
Many of these consequences will only kick in after you have been running missions for a long time, and even then it is usually a result of not turning down missions that are directly against a high-sec faction. For example, most Caldari combat missions will be against Guristas, Sansha's Nation, and other NPC pirates. Some, however, will be directly against the Gallente Federation or Minmatar Republic. These missions should be turned down. Note that with normal agents it is safe to turn down a mission unless you have done so with the same agent within the past four hours. In which case you will suffer a standings penalty.
Okay, so for whom should we run missions?
That's a question that depends on a lot of things, most especially where you want to live in the game. For the purposes of this article we will assume that you want to grind missions for a Caldari corporation, likely one of the research corporations like Ishukone, Kaalakiota, or Lai Dai. Previously your choice mattered a great deal, but due to some recent changes in the way agents work it is no longer such a big deal.
Because Caldari are best buds with the Amarr, you will also be running some missions for them.
Outline Of The Caldari Grind
The normal grinding process is to run normal missions, gaining small standings improvements with each successful mission and major standings boosts from periodic storyline missions that are offered every sixteen missions that you complete. This takes a long time and can be dramatically sped up with certain shortcuts.
The basic process is as follows:
The more career and tag missions you run, the less real missions you will need to grind. The trade off is that you will actually be spending ISK rather than earning it. Still, it's well worth it so that you can get to the higher level missions to earn the real cheddar.
Training Social Skills
Training the right skills early on will drastically reduce the amount of work that you need to expend in order to get high standings. The skills you should be concerned with are as follows:
Social: This should be trained to four or even five in order to maximize your standings gained. You should train it to at least level four before you start doing anything else relating to your grind. Jumping the gun before you train this results in a lot of wasted effort, and more time grinding level two and three missions as a result. This is a level one skill and trains very quickly.
Connections: Train this to level three or four in order to get access to higher-level agents, faster. It does not seem to affect your standings with tag or R&D agents, though. Still, it is handy for getting access to those sweet level four missions and effectively reduces the total amount of standings needed.