Monday, December 26, 2011

Topics in 0.0 ninja: Exploration in hostile sov space for the chronically risk-averse

EDIT 2012-12-15: With the Retribution AI, using bombers for ninja exploration is still possible but much more expensive. See this post for details.

Increasingly awesome title edition~

Alas, this is the end of the 0.0 ninja series unless I find something else to do there. That probably will not happen in the near future.


In terms of isk/hour, 0.0 exploration is pretty much the best money in the game. It is a fairly specialized profession, and not many people do it -- you need the right ships, the right skills... and you need space to do it in, or so many people think.

This guide will describe a method for doing limited 0.0 exploration with only cloaky ships. Using it you will be able to drive out to the edge of the galaxy, grab a billion isk of exploration loot, and drive back to jita, all in essentially perfect safety.

This guide is specific to guristas because they are what I'm familiar with, but the methodology should be adaptable to other factions (especially serpentis).


This method relies on dual boxing two cloaky ships, a tank and a damage dealer.

The tank is a nullified, cloaky tengu which scouts, scans, and tanks, set up similarly to my old 'worst tengu fit ever' exploration utility fit.

The damage dealer is a stealth bomber. These do excellent damage for their size, have a cov ops cloak, and can hit out to 60 km with t1 torpedoes.

It goes like this: The tengu goes first, since it is much more likely than the bomber to survive a gate camp. You take the ships out to 0.0, find safe systems, and scan down sites. Once an appropriate site has been located the tengu warps in first and pulls all the aggro, the bomber follows, and they get to work. Just watch local and d-scan for hostiles dropping probes.

How far you go into 0.0 is up to you. Any system that doesn't have something nasty on d-scan is usually fine, though in systems with heavy traffic or people in local it's more likely someone will try to scan you down. The further you go from empire and pipes, the less likely it is you'll be interrupted. Personally I'm quite fond of tenal.

I just do day drips, since I have to go return to highsec on a near-daily basis, but operating out of an NPC station where you can buy ammo would really streamline the process.

Doing a site
(may have to open in new tab)


Without further ado...

If your skills aren't awesome enough to be cap stable with that, you can totally switch out the boost amp for a cap recharger. It just means sometimes it will be necessary to orbit with the AB on to reduce incoming damage.

In the tengu's cargo you should carry about 6000 heavy missiles, then fill the rest with torpedoes to resupply the bomber. This should result in both ships running out around the same time.

If you don't feel like training astrometrics 5, you can switch the t2 probe launcher for a sisters probe launcher.

Also of note, I strongly disrecommend using any ship other than a tengu for this. Fast align time is key to a T3 surviving gate camps in 0.0, which means armor tanks (proteus, legion) won't work, and the loki has slower align time and a much worse tank. The tengu will definitely work for caldari and gallente damage types, and non-caldari rats are said to be much easier to tank so it may also be able to handle minmatar or even amarr; however, I haven't tested these.

EDIT: It is actually possible to get the loki align time down to just 0.1 second slower than the tengu, and for sanshas damage it has a better tank.

The second target painter is nice, but with cov ops 4 it isn't really necessary unless you're shooting cruiser hulls or elite frigates a lot. If you want to drop one for a salvager, analyzer, or MWD you can. Archaeology and salvaging sites are pretty worthless, in my experience, but salvaging dread guristas is sometimes worth a few million and an MWD would be really helpful if you do end up jumping into a gate camp (see evading gate camps in a cov ops ship).

EDIT: You can also fit a MWD by using a kmb-50 implant, which adds 3% CPU and costs 22 mil. Worth it.

The codebreaker is for ladar hacking sites (see H-PA Crash Crew), which are fast, easy, and can drop the nanite control skill book, which is worth about 250 mil. Except for drone regions, all or nearly all 0.0 regions have ladar hacking sites.

We use a manticore here because it receives a bonus to kinetic damage, which is best for guristas rats. You will want to match the bomber to the type of rats you're shooting.


This method severely limits the types of sites you can do. Sites which do AOE damage (e.g. guristas military complex) are completely out of the question. Sites which have multiple spawns, which may target the bomber, (most hacking and salvaging sites) will be very tricky. Sites where you have to kill large numbers of elite frigates or cruisers (e.g. guristas fortress) will run you out of torpedoes after only a few sites. Sites that the tengu can't tank (maze) will just plain kill you.

So what does this leave us?

Fascinatingly, with guristas this removes almost all the worthless sites, and fewer than half the high value ones. We are left with four easy, predictable, high value, and fairly common sites: DED 6/10, 7/10, and 8/10, plus LADAR hacking sites. We'll just have to see what sort of earnings these sites can provide for us.


So, does it work? Well, so far I have spent 19.4 hours doing exploration this way, and retrieved 2440 million isk worth of loot. This comes out to 125m/h.

(This figure does not include travel time to/from jita; or bounties, which I estimate totaled a hundred million or so)

Due to the highly variable nature of exploration income, 19 hours is not enough to take an accurate baseline. However, I have extremely extensive experience with guristas exploration, and my feeling is that this figure is pretty reasonable.

EDIT: After doing several more runs of this and tracking isk/hour in a general sort of way, and after the release of deadspace invulnerability fields, I think that figure might be somewhat low. Figure more than 125, but definitely less than 200.


It's profitable, easy, and mostly safe. I feel confident that the long term isk per hour is higher than that of a pretty good highsec incursion fleet, and personally I find it much more enjoyable than incursions. Intermittent and randomized rewards mean it feels like less of a grind, standard rats don't switch targets so you don't have to be paying attention every second, and there are no fleetmates or FC to worry about. Plus, there's just something very relaxing about a quiet 0.0 system. Maybe I've spent too much time out there, but highsec and low are just too cramped for me to ever feel comfortable.

Also, excitement! Sometimes people try to kill you and stuff!

tl;dr more money, more fun, more interesting


  1. Would using 2 Tengus work if one was fit for gank? I am not sure how far off the damage would be with a gank Tengu vs. a SB.

  2. A second tengu would work, broadly speaking, but the cloaking subsystem really kills the dps; and if I were going to try and get a non-cov-ops ship through I would probably try for a torp raven with a standard cloak fit, on account of it's cheaper and does moar dps.

    (dps tengu does about 670 afaik)

    Hm. Though, you could fit standard cloak and nullifier, then use the cloak-mwd-warp trick that I keep hearing about.

    Another thought would be using a third character in a carrier to move a non-cov-ops cloak damage dealer past the pipes, then use the carrier as a base of operations. This way you could get more dps, do all the sites, and use the carrier to restock ammo and for tough escalations.

  3. Strangely enough I was googling trying to learn more on this very subject earlier today. Then your post pops up explaining exactly how you do it, very helpful thank you =D

    I was also considering dual Tengus, likely with remote rep, but it makes more sense to have each ship dedicated to the one task.

    Going to give this a shot as soon as I can actually fly a manticore on my main. Can I ask, why the cargo rig? I understand extra cargo is a bonus for carrying more ammo out into the wild..
    I haven't EFTd it but is it not possible to get more dps out of using both rig slots towards that goal?

    Very interested to give this a try though, as it fits into my sporadic playtime (which incursions don't) and looks to pay a lot nicer than lvl4 or FW missions.

  4. With two ballistic control systems, the dps increase from adding more damage mods is already falling off pretty quickly (the single t2 rig adds 52 dps), plus we're already very close to the limit on CPU and calibration points. With a 3% CPU implant you can switch the t2 calefaction catalyst for t1, then switch the cargo rig for a bay loading accelerator, but what you get out of it is an additional 8 dps. I figured the cargo space was more useful.

    Not, however, that there's aren't situations where you should use a different rig. In particular, if your missile range skills are less than perfect, you may have problems hitting ships which orbit at 52 km, so a missile range rig would be appropriate. With missile bombardment 4 and missile projection 4, a range rig will allow you to hit to the same range you could if they were both 5.

    ...I also just realized that the tengu was showing general defense. This has been changed to reflect gurstas-ish damage types.

  5. Thanks for the response, makes sense.

    Damn you caldari frig V, I want to try this now, knew I should have saved some of those refunded learning skill SP for situations where I am impatient =)

  6. Just out of interest, what would you say exploration isk/hr is like w/ sov? (ie: proper ships and fits).

    Most people I ask say it's worse than incursions, but I'm interested on your opinion.

  7. I don't have any data for that, but more than this. And definitely more than incursions.

    Even this method is better than incursions. With my own space I'd be using a torp raven or torp golem, which means doing the sites faster, and would be able to do several more difficult and more valuable sites as well.

  8. Which sites could and couldn't you do with your worst tengu fit and torp raven? (Guristas)

    I've tried in vain to google this kind of thing before, but there's an extremely high noise to signal ratio, but I've read your blog for a while and you seem to have a lot of experience with it.

  9. With the other fit and a damage dealer with more tank (and a carrier for two of the escalations) I could do all the sites except maze. And I'm pretty sure a tengu with a ridiculous deadspace fit could tank the maze, though though I've never tried it.

  10. Are there any you would avoid doing because they're worthless?

  11. Guristas base. Probably guristas fortress. Military complex is questionable. All radar and magnetometric sites*. All gravimetric sites. All ladar sites except for ladar hacking sites.

    *There is one extremely obscure radar or magnetometric site which is a combat site with loot at the end like a DED complex. It contains a combination of pirate rats and rogue drones. I don't remember the name, I've never done it, and I don't think it appears on the wiki, but apparently the loot is decent.

  12. Fake edit: 'guristas military complex' is the one which is questionable. 'guristas military operations complex' is definitely worth doing.

  13. I found the one-mabe-valuable-mag-or-radar site that I referred to earlier in the comments. It's a mag site called murky ruins, and it sounds like something you don't want to mess with.

  14. How much tank do you think is needed to tank all those complexes? Would Ishtar with 1,000 dps tank be enough?

  15. Definitely. I used to do them (except 7/10, which didn't exist yet) in an ishtar with about 800 tank. It got a little threshed in the last room of the 8/10, but should be fine if you're careful with the frigates. Might be advisable to plink a couple of them and/or BCs with senries to reduce incoming DPS.

  16. Thanks.

    Also, how often do sites spawn? Are they seeded only after DT, or they refresh all the time?

  17. Not just at downtime. The details are deep magic, but in general terms finishing a site will cause it to respawn in the same region.

  18. Small correction: Scamming is the best isk in the game, but it takes real life social skills instead of EVE skills to pull off. :)

  19. Any thoughts on how you could do this now that the AI changes in Retribution have made glass cannon stealth bombers non-viable?

    1. Well, you could dual box tengus, but you can only get about 560 dps out of a pair of them and they would probably run out of ammo a lot faster.

      When they were asking for input about the changes I whined that they were killing my pet playstyle. They weren't interested.

    2. I've played around with EFT some and I still haven't come up with a decent DPS solution. Obviously the ship needs to have a decent tank and I want to be able to fit a prototype cloak, a salvager and an analyzer (I know you recommend a codebreaker but I think in the past year exploration sites have changed. At this point mag sites seem to be some of the most profitable finds out there.) Any suggestions?

      One idea is to only run mag sites since that would greatly reduce the tank I need, but that feels so unsatisfying. I could also only run complexes which would kill the need for a salvager and analyzer but that would really cut into my profit margins since mag sites can produce some nice quick isk.

    3. I would probably go with the drake personally, since it's disposable.

      Hadn't heard anything about mag sites being worth something now. Back when I was doing exploration an exceptionally good one could be worth like 150m, which is well less than a halfway decent drop from anything else.

    4. Mag sites are typically worth 50 to 100 million, but they can be run in a few minutes and are very plentiful. I've found that the majority of 8/10 plexes (which are the most common) drop nothing nowadays.

  20. I'm thinking of dual boxing Tengus and just accepting that the second one won't be able to fit a covert ops cloak. I'll use the stealthy Tengu for scouting to make sure I don't run into any gate camps. For Tengu #2 I'll just fit a prototype cloak, if I need to hide I'll run to a safe spot and cloak up. For a cheaper version I could just have my alt fly a DPS drake instead. I'm waiting for EFT to be updated so I can properly try out these different fits.