Planetary materials, from the fairly cheap guidance systems to lucrative coolant, are fatigue-inducing to make, at least as CCP envisions the manufacturing process. Getting set up involves a lot of forethought, is difficult to change on the fly, and involves more clicking than Plants Vs. Zombies.
Fortunately for the clever player, EVE Online is such a big place that even the developers sometimes forget about some of the dustier corners of it. In this case, there are three ways that planetary goods are still sneaking into the game, and likely not by design.
Some of these material sources will eventually get patched out, while others are "features" and "working as intended". Until then, however, this guide will suffice to describe these material resources that are ours to use and abuse.
Newbie Tutorial Trickle
Twelve out of twenty third-tier planetary materials are available randomly from missions. Because of the static nature of the newbie tutorial missions, there are always some to be had from one or more structures that the missions require you to blow up. Inquisitive newbies will not eschew looting these structures. This means that every time someone runs through the newbie tutorials, a small cache of planetary goods is going to be discovered.
As a result, there is a slow but steady trickle of planet-made goods available in newbie systems. This is great for older players, who presumably know how to use the market to their advantage. It is rather less exciting for the newbies, who will likely sell their planetary goods to buy orders without realizing that they are giving up a good chunk of their value by selling to low-ball buy orders.
The way to take advantage of this, even as a newbie, is to set up buy orders for the planet-made materials that are commonly dropped in the newbie missions, and to maintain those buy orders in the face of competition. Once a sizable amount gathers, haul it to Jita and set up a sell order.
Mission Loot Cascade
As mentioned above, many products that normally require a convoluted production process to manufacture are available as loot from certain missions. There are some mission drops that are small, and others that are not so small. Some of the missions (like courier missions) have already been patched to minimize their impact, but there is still a steady flow of them when taken in aggregate. Buy orders in active mission hubs like Motsu will slowly be filled as long as they are maintained at a competitive pricing. Ten units of a given item at a time might not seem like much, but given the huge number of missions that are run, each day, it can be quite a lot.
My suggestion is to find mission hubs based where there are several level 3 and level 4 missions, especially Caldari agents, and to place your buy orders there. Some are much more commonly seen as drops, which seem to include enriched uranium, fertilizer, guidance systems, construction blocks, and polytextiles. The rest only seem to crop up occasionally for me, if at all, but it is impossible to know for sure what is on CCP's loot drop tables.
NPC Convoy Tidal Wave
Perhaps you have noticed that there are occasionally NPC industrial ships hanging around stations in your solar system. If you are anything like me, you didn't dare mess with them for fear that CONCORD would have a few harsh words with you. With one exception, this is needless worrying: CONCORD won't care, anymore than they do when you blow up mission NPCs. The exception is when the hauler NPCs originate from CONCORD stations. If the traders originally spawned on the undock of a CONCORD station, then CONCORD will spawn to defend them, no matter where you attack them.
Alas, there is no way to visually identify what NPC corporation or faction these traders belong to, and they will warp around from station to station, though always within the same solar system. I would eschew systems with a CONCORD station in them, just in case.
The trade goods dropped by these NPCs include planetary goods, as well as things like illegal drugs (not combat boosters, though) and non-planetary trade goods.
Attacking NPC Traders
The general behavior pattern of convoy NPCs is as follows: they spawn near a station undock, then randomly zoom a few hundred kilometers in a straight line. Eventually, the NPCs will warp to another station, and approach it from a few hundred kilometers away. It's kind of silly, I know. It is basically a really crude, early mechanic that was included to make EVE Online seem a bit more vibrant in the early days, with more bustling space-lanes and all that.
Attacking these guys can be a little tricky. When you attack an NPC trader, all of the following occurs:
- The NPC convoy will fight back, albeit poorly.
- You will lose standings with the NPC corporation with whom the convoy is associated.
- You will become aggressed to the NPC corporation that the convoys belong to, meaning that station guns at a station owned by that corporation will fire on you if you are within 150km, and certain NPCs might attack you when otherwise they would not. The damage will take out a cruiser pretty quick, but a tough battlecruiser or battleship can certainly warp off in time to escape.
Finding A Hunting Ground
The best way to do this is to sit on the undock of a station in something that can tank station guns for a bit, like a drake or what have you. When NPCs warp in from somewhere else, you can gank them with the expectation that they came from a different station, and the station guns may not open fire on you.
Do not set up in a station that has a CONCORD station. You will have no way of knowing whether a convoy in that system came from the CONCORD station. If it did, attacking them is just like attacking a CONCORD police ship, and results in near-instant death.
If station guns scare you, you can fit out something that can shoot 150km, like an Apocalypse or Rokh battleship. Then shoot convoys from outside the station guns' range. Of course, that doesn't help loot the convoy, but you should probably have a second person doing that, anyway.
The profits on the first two methods rely mostly on market savvy, what with finding newbie stations or mission hubs and setting up buy orders being the most practical way to capitalize on it.
The profits on the final method are uncertain. I have heard of people getting crappy illegal cargo all day, and then there are those that compare the profitability to level 3 missions. My thought is that that as this catches on, especially with newbies that realize this can be done in a cruiser, that competition will make it impractical. Then again, these materials are only going up in value, and as less people keep plugging away at planetary interaction, and more people screw around with the economy surrounding these ever-scarcer materials, this practice could enjoy a renaissance.
In the meantime, I hope this has given you an additional avenue by which to pursue your material needs.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EVE Online Game Page.