The thought occured to me this morning that I had yet to fully immerse myself in exploration as an alpha. I have several trained, but I’ve never really used them other than for quick bounces around lowsec and the odd dive here and there when I haven’t wanted to lose ships.
So just how much isk could I make in a dedicated session of a few hours? It was time to find out.
Let’s put the spotlight on a few potential elephants in the room before we continue:
- Yes, I’m experienced and clearly my experience of the hacking game is going to stand me in good stead in comparison to a new player. I’m also much more aware of the inherent risks associated with wormhole exploration and am able to take steps to minimise these.
- My alpha skills are maxed out for exploration (I use the word ‘maxed’ loosely – see below).
- Results WILL vary. This session was by no means typical, in fact there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ play session thanks to RNG, other player characters and how busy the systems you enter are, or have been.
My character, Tenshi Chan is a few months old and has around 1.5m skillpoints, mostly in scanning and navigation. She does have Amarr frigate at IV also in order to maximise the scanning bonus for the Magnate she flies. In truth the vital skills for basic exploration can be maxed in a few days.
Wormhole Exploration Magnate Fit
The fit is fairly straightforward and cheap. Easily replaceable in terms of cost, you could probably build two or three spares with the isk made from looting even one wormhole data site. More on this shortly.
I’ve chosen the Magnate for several reasons. The first is purely aesthetic preference, I like the look of it!
The second and most important reason is the number of low slots the Magnate provides. The utilisation of four warp core stabilisers may appear to be overkill, but when you factor into this the fact that most people hunting will be in Asteros with dual scrams, the luxury of being able to neutralise four points makes the targeting delay and reduced lock range penalties far easier to live with. Pretty much the only thing that’s going to catch you is a sebo fitted cloaky T3 (which will alpha you at range anyway), a rich Astero pilot packing dual scrams (at least one of which is faction) or a cloaked / very fast interdictor.
Lastly, it’s cheap, as are all T1 exploration frigates and by no means here am I saying the Magnate is the only choice – it’s just my preferred one. Remember, as an alpha you can’t cloak, so why do you want to even contemplate getting into an Astero? Yes, I have Sisters probes primarily as I’ve dropped a gravity capacitor upgrade rig for two emission scope sharpeners to enhance my success rate in relic sites. A set will cost you about 3m isk and you’ll be able to scan level III sites with ease. Not that you can’t with T1 probes, it’s just a quality of life improvement that doesn’t cost a lot. You’re basically looking at a 4-4.5m investment in total, or around 1m without the Sisters probes. Essentially you can lose these things all day long and still have fun,
Why relic sites? That’s where the money is. Sure you can make steady isk from data sites, 8m here and 12m there, but the real meaty loot is in relic sites and those are primarily what I want to target. 100m plus out of a relic site is by no means unheard of.
Of course I’ve also fitted a 5MN MWD. This is kind of essential as many of the sites have distances of 50km plus between cans.
I took a lot of screenshots and wrote a lot of notes during the approximately 2 hours that I spent actively exploring this afternoon. To be honest most of it is fairly irrelevant so I’ll summarise thus.
I left Amarr at around 11.30am and headed up into Kador, initially finding a hole in a dead end system with nobody in local. It was a C1 and there were no signs of activity so I dumped probes at a safe and scanned my way through all 14 signatures revealing three runnable data sites, not the best start and all told I took out 21m in loot. I got unlucky on a few databanks but as my ship isn’t tricked out for data analyzing I was fairly happy.
Wormholes seemed to be in short supply in the area, but a few holes offered single relic or data sites and by around an hour and a half in I suppose I was up to around 100m isk. Not bad for a new player in a short space of time. I didn’t get any crazy drops, just the run of the mill tens of millions of isk which soon accumulated.
I was due to go out by around 14:00 so I had one last dive into a C1 in Ebidan, two jumps from Amarr. I don’t normally scan that close to hubs as hunters tend to congregate in a tight radius around them, but I managed to snag 40m out of one can before being ‘disturbed’ by an Astero who was clearly hunting me.
All told my haul came in at 144m (estimated).
As mentioned above, this shouldn’t be taken as a typical time/motion/profit estimate, but I hope it shows the potential for riches that even Alpha players can obtain. Had I encountered more Sansha relic sites clearly there would have been potential for more profit, but hey, that’s RNG for you. No intact plates today!
I hope this short piece has encouraged you to explore as a new or returning player. It can be a lot of fun, and profitable.
By all means investigate the other T1 frigates, they all have various benefits in terms of slot layout and slightly varying stats, but all essentially do the same job. If you want to pack a cargo scanner or scanning array modules for example, a Heron may be and is a popular choice due to the increased number of mid-slots.
Operating the ships and how to scan / hack isn’t what I’d intended to get into in this entry, perhaps I’ll put together a tutorial at some point but right now with time as rare a commodity as it is I’d rather be playing.
If anyone has questions, please feel free to evemail me.