One of the best, most accessible ways for EVE Online players to make money is by running level four missions. Like anything worth having, it takes some elbow grease to get to that point.
This guide is the second in a series on making the grinding missions. The previous guide dealt with why grinding missions is so lucrative, how to go about improving standings, and some of the perks of having high standings. It specifically deals with ways to make grinding for standings less painful. Believe me, you want this to go by as quickly as possible.
First, A Word
To that end, don't worry about salvaging or looting your low-level missions, unless you are completely broke. Even then, you're probably better off running more missions for ISK and progressing toward your goal, rather than scrounging around and looting frigate wrecks on a level one or level two mission. Again: the grind is all about the speed with which you reach level four missions, which give you the best money for your time out of nearly any profession in high security space (and better than many activities elsewhere, for that matter).
Even just from grinding to the highest quality level four agents, you will accrue enough loyalty points to get something nice. Perhaps not a faction battleship blueprint, but probably decently close.
Train Your Effing Social Skills
Social, Diplomacy, and Connections are absolutely essential for a serious grind. They mean you need to work less hard, and that your work gets more done. The breakdown:
Social: The basic social skill, this is the most important thing to train when you are grinding. Training it to level IV is a good idea, and the sooner the better. The reason for this is that it improves your standings increases as you get them by 5% per level trained. So if you train this skill to IV, your grind will effectively be 20% shorter. That's amazing, and I promise by the time you're slogging through your fifth level III storyline mission you will be thanking your lucky stars that you trained it sooner, rather than later.
Connections: A 4% bonus per level to friendly corporations, which any corporation you are grinding for will quickly become, unless you are starting with a negative standing (see below). This is good because it helps get you to level four agents faster, which gets you to the best level four agents faster. Anything that shortens the grind is great.
Diplomacy: Each level train gives you a 4% bonus to effective standing with unfriendly corporations or factions. That is, corporations that have a negative standing toward you. This is handy if you want to start grinding for a corporation or faction that you have previously given cause to dislike you. A lot of missions hurt your standings with other organizations. Eventually, they can get so low to one of the main empire factions that you won't be able to enter their space. This skill will help you have access to those hostile factions' agents, so that you can recover your standings a bit, if necessary. This could also be handy for grinding multiple factions on the same character, which I consider profoundly masochistic. Then again, for all I know it's your secret dream to have +10 standings from every NPC organization in EVE Online. So there you go, train this.
Each of the races in EVE Online have "school systems" where skillbooks are available, and special agents are located. New EVE players begin their game in one of these systems, depending on what race they have decided to play. The special agents located in these systems have several missions that for all practical purposes may be run only once per EVE character. It's possible that some or all of them may be run again after six months or some other time period, but by then you will be worrying about other things in EVE.
These missions are designed to teach your character about the various professions and activities of EVE, and are basically a relic of the older tutorial systems. They are invaluable to you when you are doing your grind because all of these missions are storyline missions. As discussed in the first guide in this series, storyline missions give you huge faction and corporate standing bonuses, allowing you to progress to higher agents that much quicker.
The school systems containing these agents are better catalogued elsewhere. You want to run all of the agents available to each faction, in each of the systems that faction has agents in. I know it may not seem so great to be doing simple level one missions, but trust me, the time spent to standings gained ratio is wonderful.
Faction Data Centers
This is a doozy. By buying special "pirate tag" items that drop from dead NPCs, and then trading them in to special agents with one-time missions, you can dramatically improve your standings, very quickly. The downside: the tags cost ISK. Sometimes a lot of ISK. But if you've got cash to burn and want to shorten your grind, this is the way to go.
The way it works is that these agents are chilling in space at data centers that you will see on your overview when you enter their solar system. When you talk to them, they will ask for a certain number of tags, from a specific race of NPC pirates. For example, Selate Kalami lives in the Kudi solar system, and wants 20 Blood Bronze Tags. If you buy the tags in Jita or wherever you do your shopping, he will give you a modest reward and big standings increase. Some of the tags are much more expensive than others, and a few of the agents want you to tote a spaceship pilot graduation certificate and get it signed, which involve a very short courier mission. If you refuse or fail a mission offer from these agents, you can't use that agent ever again (or at least not within a reasonable timeframe).
The systems that the agents are located in are as follows:
- ÂAmarr: Polfaly, Kudi, and Ferira.
- ÂCaldari: Ahtulaima, Saikanen, and Kamokor.
- ÂGallente: Abenync, Muer, and Ekuenbiron.
- ÂMinmatar: Emolgranlan, Arlulf, and Engosi.
Complete information on which agents assign what missions (and where) may be found on CCP's EVEwiki.
Pulling It All Together
I recently did the standings grind for one of my characters. All told, it took less than a week of training social skills, mission running, buying some (but not the most expensive) tags for the faction data centers, and patience. I probably could have done it in a weekend, if I really wanted to be hard core.
A word of warning: be careful that you don't get ahead of yourself with combat missions. They give better rewards than combat missions, but a player with standings for level three missions won't necessarily have the ship and support skills trained to handle the fighting required. I have cracking good skills and still lost two battlecruisers, and lord knows how many other ships, along the way.
Until next time, fly safe!