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.
- Determining what your loyalty point reward options are.
- What R&D agents will be available to you.
- What agent options you have in high-sec.
- Where you will need to live in EVE to continue running missions for that faction.
- Whether your event agents will send you into low-sec or not.
- Loss of access to agents working for rival NPC factions.
- Loss of access to areas of space controlled by rival NPC factions or even to high-sec space entirely.
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:
- Train some social skills to maximize standing gains.
- Run some or all Caldari career missions (and possibly the Amarr faction).
- Run the graduation certificate missions for the two factions.
- Turn in pirate tags to some or all of the agents at the Caldari and Amarr data centers.
- Run missions until you are happy with your standings.
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.
Career agents are special one-time agents that reside in "newbie systems" where new players begin their EVE careers. These agents offer ten-part missions designed to teach you about a particular aspect of EVE Online, and give disproportionately high standings rewards in exchange. They also give skill books, ships, and sometimes relatively high ISK rewards (at least compared to level one missions). Every player should run through them as a matter of course, to learn about how to play EVE Online. As a Caldari standings grinder you will want to do all of them, in each Caldari newbie system plus -if you can stomach it- Amarr as well.
Newbie systems are distinguished from other systems because they only have a single station and the only agents available are career agents. They also have very limited asteroids and special tutorial-related exploration sites. As an aside note, they are also sort of off-limits for things like jet can flipping and the usual high-sec griefing --take my bitter word for it: GMs are paying attention to what happens there and will aggressively respond to petitions from new players.
Career agents and data centers are the key to skipping the mission grind.
- The Caldari systems with career agents are: Akiainavas, Jouvulen, and Uitra.
- The Amarr systems with career agents are: Conoban, Deepari, and Pasha.
I recommend taking a break before running the Amarr missions, as these missions can be really painful when done in a row. Remember: you want to run all of the missions for all of the agents in each of these systems, and you want to have Social trained at least to four before you start.
Certificates And Tags
Each of the major high-sec factions has several special sites floating in space, called Data Centers, that are inhabited by special agents. These one-time-only agents mostly offer missions where the only requirement is that you turn in a variable number of pirate tags. These tags are found randomly in NPC pirate wrecks, and are sold to NPC buy orders, turned in as part of a loyalty point offer, or used at these data centers. In exchange for these missions you will gain negligible ISK rewards, but really high standings boosts compared to normal missions. They are the fastest way to gain standings, at the cost of you having to pay for the tags involved.
The agents at the Caldari data centers ask for Guristas tags, starting with x3 Copper Tag, and then x20 each of Bronze, Silver, Brass, Palladium, Gold, Electrum, Crystal, Platinum, and Diamond tags.
Because these mission offers are one-time only and will be wasted if you fail, you should line up your tags ahead of time by buying them in Jita. As a newer player you will almost certainly want to skip over some of the tags with more exorbitant price tags. This is fine, but will sometimes require you to run a few missions before gaining access to the next level of agent. Note that failing these missions will significantly hurt your standings, and is extremely counter-productive to your grind, so don't talk to an agent unless you plan on turning in the related tags.
A few of the data center agents will also ask you to deliver a graduation certificate or other kind of cargo. These missions have similarly disproportionate standings rewards and should definitely not be missed.
The Caldari data center checklist is as follows:
Ahtulaima Data Center
- Tillen Matsu and Hosiwo Onima: Courier missions.
- Vaktan Sido: x3 Guristas Copper Tag.
Saikanen Data Center
- Autaris Pia and Nakkito Ihadechi: Courier missions.
- Rokuza Taman: x3 Guristas Copper Tag.
Kamokor Data Center
- Korhonomi Oti and Pomari Maara: Courier missions.
- Peeta Waikon: x3 Guristas Copper Tag.
- Ollen Alulama: x20 Guristas Bronze Tag.
- Ichmari Obesa: x20 Guristas Silver Tag.
- Kui Hisken: x20 Guristas Brass Tag.
- Tojawara Saziras: x20 Guristas Palladium Tag.
- Oko Alo: x20 Guristas Gold Tag.
- Isu Jokaga: x20 Guristas Electrum Tag.
- Ruupas Vonni: x20 Guristas Crystal Tag.
- Ozunoa Poskat: x20 Guristas Platinum Tag.
- Kanouchi Hisama: x20 Guristas Diamond Tag.
These agents have levels just like any other and require that you have a certain standing in order to speak to them. If you have the Social and Connections skills trained up it is usually possible to use every agent at once, in order, because they give sufficient standings gains to allow access to the next agent in the chain. This may not be the case depending on how much standings you get (it seems to vary, probably based on how many players have used that agent lately).
Again, this will all cost ISK ranging from almost nothing to millions of ISK (though few are willing to pay that). Luckily, there are other short-cuts that can help bypass the normal grind. Check back with us later for that, contained in the second portion of this guide.