Thursday, 3 May 2012

Funding Your PVP Habit

PVP can be an expensive activity, particularly when you're starting out. For many people, this is one of the major worries preventing them from getting involved in a life of PVP. In this post we're going to look at some of the popular methods for making isk as a PVPer, as well as how we can manage our costs to maximise the time we're able to spend PVPing.

Before we begin, a few quick disclaimers - firstly, this isn't intended to be a comprehensive guide to isk-making in Eve, nor am I trying to say anything about the relative merits of each activity in of itself. For the purposes of this article, we're looking at each of these activities purely as something you do 'on the side' to support your PVP, and how it complements (or doesn't) that lifestyle. Additionally, this is all based on my own opinions - I'm far from an expert when it comes to PVE, so take these as general guidelines rather than hard truths.

Managing Your Expenses

Unfortunately there's no magic bullet that will make your isk woes go away, however you can make the job easier by managing your expenses a little.

The first thing to realise is that PVP does not have to be expensive - while a larger budget opens more doors, it's perfectly achievable to PVP on the cheap. Rather than picking all the ships you want to fly and then trying to figure out how to pay for them, I recommend starting off by asking yourself how much effort you're willing to put into making isk, and then setting your PVP budget accordingly.

The easiest way to reduce costs is to fly cheaper ships - just because you can fly a HAC doesn't mean you need to fly one, especially when you can lose three battlecruisers for the same price. Try to be sensible about this - don't go fitting t1 mods on a premium hull, but consider flying cheaper hulls and drop modules for cheaper variants where the performance gain from t2 might not be necessary. Do this right, and you can get an effective ship for a significantly lower price tag - a good example is the ferox fit from my recent AAR.

Some corps and alliances will also offer reimbursement for some or all PVP losses, which can make things much easier. This might be limited to particular ship types or ships lost on corp ops only, or it might be wider. Remember of course that this tends to come with a certain kind of PVP - you're unlikely to find a lowsec pirate corp reimbursing ship losses for example. In a similar vein, some corps will provide free frigates or other cheap ships to new players, which can make your first steps much easier.

What Makes a Good Isk Source?

When choosing your income stream, there are a few important things to consider:

Isk per Hour - This is a measure of how much isk an activity produces for a given amount of time invested. This is probably the most commonly used metric when deciding on an isk-making activity, and it's definitely in keeping with the slightly min-max attitude that's common among Eve players. While there is a reasonable amount of variation in isk per hour between activities, most of the common ones fall into a similar medium-to-high ballpark. Isk per hour is most important to people who are willing to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to their isk making, and want to be as efficient as possible with that time.

Effort Required - This is the question of how much work you need to put in in order to make a given profit. If something takes two hours but you can do it semi-afk, that has a greater isk to effort ratio than something which takes one hour fully at the keyboard and produces the same isk. If you plan to dedicate a certain amount of time to isk making regardless then effort will probably only be a minor consideration for you. However if you'd rather multi-task, making your isk while your attention is elsewhere, then choosing an activity with a low effort requirement can be advantageous. Some activities are almost completely passive, generating isk while you're not even online!

Convenience - Some activities are much more convenient than others. If you can do an activity on your main account without leaving your usual PVP stomping grounds, that's very convenient; nobody likes to be stuck 25 jumps away in hisec when their corpmates are getting an awesome fight. If you can make isk while you're PVPing (or in a PVP-fit ship so that you can join a fight at a moment's notice), that's even better! Unfortunately some isk-making activities will require you to travel away from your usual PVPing areas (for example to hisec market hubs, or to wherever your POS, PI installations, or mission agents are based) or use an alt in order to make them practical.

Fun Factor - You'd expect this one to be obvious; Eve is a game after all. Is your chosen activity actually fun to do, or is it a soul destroying exercise that feels like a second job? Whether this is important to you depends on your mindset, but if you're going to be spending a significant amount of time grinding isk it's generally easier to stay motivated if you're having fun while you're doing it.

Startup Requirements - Some activities require significant skill training, standings, or startup capital before you can really make good isk from them. While this isn't a problem if you already meet those requirements, it can be a barrier to new players. This is particularly true if you're required to train skills or grind standing on an alt.

PVE Combat

As the name suggests, these activities focus on killing NPCs in exchange for isk. In general, they are highly active isk sources where you make money as you go - the profit you make scales linearly with the amount of time that you put in. While time-consuming, these are natural isk sources for PVPers since they generally require skills and ships that you already have available. These are good choices when you have time to spare and are mainly interested in a solid return on the hours you invest.

Missions (Excluding Pirate Missions)

One of the most common isk sources, missioning is a fairly steady if uninteresting income stream. Most people mission in hisec, which gives you the relative safety to grind isk without concentrating too hard. However, hisec is often quite out of your way as a PVPer, so mission runners either use an alt for this or set up a jump clones to travel between their missioning location and their PVP HQ. You can also run missions in lowsec and NPC nullsec - while requiring more concentration given the potential for hostilities, lowsec missions are more convenient for lowsec PVPers (particularly if your main is flashy) and pay out more than their hisec equivalents, although still significantly less than pirate missions. Level 5 missions are also available in lowsec. NPC nullsec missions are not significantly more valuable, unless they are for pirate factions (see below).

Isk per Hour - Moderate to high, particularly once you're running level 4 (or 5) missions.

Effort Required - Moderate for hisec, moderate to high for lowsec. It's possible to run missions semi-afk depending on your ship, but it's less efficient and will net you less isk. You generally have to be at the keyboard and paying some attention, but you can get away with multitasking. In lowsec, more attention will be required to avoid hostile players.

Convenience - Low for hisec, moderate for lowsec. You're generally tied to the locations where you have available agents, and running missions in hisec means moving away from your PVP grounds or using a mission running alt.

Fun Factor
- Moderate to low. Missions are fairly repetitive and don't really offer much a great deal of challenge.

Startup Requirements
- Pretty high for level 4 missions since you'll need good standings. Low for more basic missions, but the payout there is significantly lower. Since many new PVPers already have a background in missions, this is often a moot point. Lowsec missions (in particular level 5s) will require more experience and usually a slightly better ship and/or fit than hisec missions in order to run them safely and effectively.

Pirate Missions

Similar to the above, except these take place in nullsec out of the systems where the pirate factions (Angel Cartel, Serpentis, Guristas, Blood Raiders and Sansha's Nation) have sovereignty. The rewards are much higher, but so is the danger.

Isk per Hour - High. Running missions for the pirate factions generates much more LP than hisec missioning, and rewards such as faction ship blueprints and pirate implants can be lucrative.

Effort Required - High. You can't really run these afk since NPC owned nullsec tends to be fairly well populated with neutral pilots looking to kill mission runners. However in the right ship and with a bit of concentration you should be fairly safe, and the isk more than makes up for any losses.

Convenience - Moderate to high, depending on where you live. These are only available in specific regions, generally deep in nullsec (Curse is the most accessible such region from empire). However, the areas where these missions are available are often active PVP hubs and if you base nearby they can be a very convenient source of isk without requiring you to move around or use an alt.

Fun Factor
- Moderate. In themselves these aren't much different from regular missions, however the added factor of evading other PVPers can make this more exciting than it would be otherwise.

Startup Requirements - Quite high. These require standing with the pirate factions much like regular missions do with the empire factions, which most people do not have.

On a related note, I should mention the pirate epic arcs - these are epic mission chains run for the Angel Cartel and Guristas based in nullsec space. They have fairly low entry requirements - you can access the starting agents simply by having standing with one of the empire factions, and they can be completed in a t2 or faction frig. These arcs are very lucrative, although you can only run them once every three months. They will also boost your standings with the relevant pirate faction, making Angel/Guristas pirate missions much more accessible from then on.


Despite their profitability recently being nerfed, incursions are still a solid income stream. Perhaps their biggest benefit is that they are both social (involving fleets of 10 or more) and challenging (incorporating an improved AI and generally employing PVP-like tactics) which makes them much more engaging them simply running missions.

Isk per Hour - Moderate to high. It's difficult to say exactly how much the payouts have been nerfed until people have really figured out how to run them effectively in their new state.

Effort Required - High. Running incursions is probably the most active isk-generating activity there is, and requires full concentration to do it effectively.

Convenience - Low. Most incursions are run in hisec, and they only exist in a small number of specific locations which change on a regular basis. They also can't be run solo - while their group nature is one of their big selling points, it does mean that you can't simply log in and grind some quick isk - you need to travel to the incursion's location and also find a fleet willing to take you (and you can't always log off at a moment's notice either, since your fleet will be relying on you).

Fun Factor - High. Incursions are the probably the closest thing you can get to PVP without actually PVPing - they're social, they're challenging, and they're satisfying if you can do them well.

Startup Requirements - Pretty high. Without joining a dedicated incursion community, the easiest way to get into incursions is probably to fly a t2 logistics ship. In general, getting accepted into an incursion fleet requires solid skills and a fairly expensive, well fit ship (as well as the capital to replace that ship should things go wrong, which they occasionally do).

For more information on Incursions, check out the guides on Jester's Trek.

Belt Ratting

Belt ratting is the practice of killing the NPCs which spawn at belts and stargates in exchange for bounties. In hisec belt ratting is almost worthless, however as the sec status of a system decreases, the quality of the rats (and thus the value of the bounties) increases. Even in the deepest nullsec belt ratting is generally worth less than other alternatives, however it's incredibly convenient - it can be done anywhere, in almost any ship, and can easily be combined with your PVP activities.

Isk per Hour - Poor, although it varies significantly based on the space you're in. While the rats themselves can have comparable bounties to missions, more time is spent searching for decent spawns. Occasionally in nullsec you might hit a jackpot by finding a rare 'commander' or 'officer' spawn, but these are few and far between. Due to the time that would be required to make significant isk, belt ratting generally works better as a bit of extra isk on the side, rather than as a primary isk source.

Effort Required - Moderate. You need to be concentrating since you'll be ratting in hostile space, and since a single spawn dies quickly you couldn't really afk rat even if you wanted to. However, it's very easy to rat casually by just killing a spawn here and there, which reduces the commitment required.

Convenience - High. Belt ratting can be done anywhere, and is easy to do in almost any ship while PVP fit. Particularly if you're solo, you can easily fit belt ratting into your day to day PVP activities - as you're roaming around, simply swing by the belts and pop any nice spawns you come across. This can have the added bonus of convincing other PVPers in the system that you're a simple ratter, and may even get you some fights!

Fun Factor - Moderate to low. As a pure isk source, belt ratting tends to be repetitive and the NPCs themselves present little to no challenge. It involves quite a lot of warping around, and you need to do a lot of it in order to make decent money. On the plus side, the fact that you can do it in hostile space and in a PVP-fit ship means that you can combine this activity with hunting ratters and trying to bait people into fights, which can make it more interesting (usually at the expense of isk generation).

Startup Requirements - Low. You can belt rat in almost anything, with destroyers and t2 frigates able to handle almost all regular rats.

Anomalies and Complexes

While anomalies and complexes are two different things, they have a lot in common. These are combat sites which you can scan down and run in exchange for bounties, loot, and so on. Anomalies can be found using your ship's onboard scanner, whereas complexes are exploration sites which need to be probed down. Complexes generally have a rating between 1/10 and 10/10 indicating the difficulty of the site, whereas anomalies are identified by names such as 'sanctum', 'haven' or 'hub'. Both anomalies and complexes increase in difficulty and reward in lower security space, with the best of each appearing in deep nullsec. As a result, these are a very common isk source for nullsec residents.

Isk per Hour - High. The higher end anomalies are generally slightly more profitable than running level 4 missions in hisec. High end complexes are more lucrative still, with the chance of faction loot giving you the possibility of a significant jackpot.

Effort Required - Moderate to high. Anomalies are easy to find and generally simple to run solo - they can even be run semi-afk (although since all but the most minor of them take place in hostile space, this is not recommended). Complexes generally require a bit more concentration, and should you get an escalation (a semi-random and usually quite lucrative follow on mission) they may involve travelling between systems. You should also take into account the effort of probing down complexes, which can be quite time consuming.

Convenience - High for anomalies, moderate for complexes. Anomalies and complexes can be found anywhere, but the best sites are found exclusively in nullsec in space with low sec status. Anomalies are more common in sovereign nullsec, due to some of the upgrades which can be installed there. Anoms are particularly convenient, since they are relatively short and can be found without probes using your ship's onboard scanner. Complexes will need to be probed down and are generally more difficult to find (at least if you're looking for a good one), however for nullsec PVPers especially you should be able to find these fairly close to home.

Fun Factor - Moderate. Quite similar to pirate missions, these are just predictable combat sites based in a hostile environment.

Startup Requirements - Fairly low. A battlecruiser should be enough for most basic anomalies, although a battleship or t3 cruiser is a better choice for the higher level anomalies and complexes.

A similar but related option which falls under the same 'exploration' banner as complexes is day tripping into wormholes. While not usually as lucrative as actually living there with a group, finding a quiet low-class hole and running some of the sleeper sites for a while can provide you with a nice income, and is broadly similar to complexes in terms of accessibility.

Passive Income Streams

In contrast to the activities mentioned above, these income streams are largely passive - they require some setup work, but will otherwise produce isk for you without you even being logged in. These are great sources of isk for those people who don't have the time to devote to PVE and want to spend as much of their Eve time PVPing as possible. They also make good secondary isk sources to supplement another income (for example, you might combine piracy with a station trading alt).

Station Trading

Station trading follows one simple rule - buy low and sell high. Truly a profession for those who have embraced the spreadsheet, station trading can be a great earner thanks to low effort and high reward, providing you have the starting capital to back it up. Since the rewards of station trading generally scale with the isk you put in rather than the time or effort, it can potentially make you a lot of money. However be warned; station trading can be a frustrating practice and requires quite a lot of patience.

Isk per Hour - Variable, but potentially very high. The more isk you put in, the more profit you can get out.

Effort Required - Low. Aside from doing some research and setting up/updating your orders, station trading is largely passive and will bring in isk without any interference from you.

Convenience - Low. You really need to be in a trade hub to do this, which usually means using an alt which does nothing but station trade. Thankfully the skills required to station trade are fairly minimal, at least at a basic level.

Fun Factor - Low. Station trading can be very frustrating and requires a lot of patience - it requires competing with market bots and often playing the '0.01 isk game' whereby people will constantly undercut each other by tiny amounts to ensure they have the best order.

Startup Requirements - Fairly high if you want a good income. You can start trading from the ground up and potentially get established fairly quickly, but the isk you get out of it is proportional to what you put in - to make huge profits, you need to have the isk to invest.

R&D Agents

R&D agents provide you with a constant, passive supply of datacores for use in invention (or to sell on the market). While these aren't really worth enough to be a primary isk source, running R&D agents can be a nice supplement to your main income stream, particularly if you have them on multiple characters.

Isk per Hour - Overall income produced is fairly low even across multiple characters, but it will keep going without any action from you. Once they're set up you don't really need to do anything other than pick up and selling your datacores every now and then (which you can do as infrequently as you like with no penalty at all).

Effort Required - Almost none, providing you have the required standings.

Convenience - Moderate. The agents are generally in hisec and you'll need to haul your datacores to a trade hub to sell, but since you can do this whenever you like you can easily just put it off until you happen to be in hisec anyway.

Fun Factor - Low, but almost N/A. You need to spend a few minutes hauling and setting up market orders to sell your datacores, but that's all.

Startup Requirements - High. You'll need the same standing as for level 4 missions with a corp that has R&D agents, and you'll need that on every character that you want to produce datacores on. You also need to train a few weeks worth of skills in order to use the agents efficiently.

Reaction POSes (and other POS shenanigans)

A potential choice for more established players is to run a reaction POS chain or something similar (for our purposes, we'll include all POS related activities which you could realistically get into as a solo player under this heading - no tech moons here). While this generally involves more effort than the other 'passive' choices it's still a relatively hands-off process, with a couple of hours once a week being a fairly typical commitment.

Isk per Hour
- High, providing you have the necessary startup capital. Like trading, profit from this activity scales with the isk you put in (i.e. the number of reaction POSes and the value of the reagents).

Effort - Moderate. You'll need to keep the POSes fuelled and transport reagents to and from the market. Since POSes like these are generally in lowsec, that's not an afk activity. Effort required is reduced significantly if you have access to a jump freighter.

Convenience - Low. You'll need to haul things around empire, and you're tied to wherever your POSes are based. The fact that you're constantly on a timer can make this frustrating - you can't just not bother with it for a couple of weeks, or your POSes would go offline.

Fun Factor - Low. There's a reason people are always complaining about the POS interface.

Startup Requirements - High. In order to make an impressive profit, you need to be able to pour quite a bit of money into control tower(s) and high value reagents. You'll have quite a large proportion of your isk plugged into your silos at any given time, and you'll probably want a jump freighter in order to make this time efficient. In other words, this is a great earner if you're already rich, but not really a way to build up a fortune.

Planetary Interaction

PI is almost a half way point between R&D agents and POSes in terms of both effort and benefits. One thing which it does have going for it however is that it's comparatively easy to get into, even on multiple characters, and is available anywhere.

The income generated from PI isn't all that high, however with an efficient setup across multiple characters it can be quite a good earner. You could also choose to get into the POCO (player owned customs office) game, but I won't discuss that here.

I've never really tried PI myself, so the following is compiled mainly from reader comments.

Isk per Hour - Like R&D agents, PI produces a constant stream of income at a fairly low rate, without much time required to maintain it. Income can be quite reasonable if done efficiently and across multiple characters. PI in lowsec, nullsec and w-space is much more profitable than in hisec due to taxes and overcrowding.

Effort - Low to moderate. Setting up may require a reasonable amount of effort to ensure you have an effective system, but keeping your PI network running is a fairly hands off activity. It will require more involvement than R&D agents, but less than maintaining a POS network and much less than running the equivalent number of missions. You'll need to check on your planets fairly regularly and haul your outputs to the market every now and then, but once you're into hisec the hauling can be done fairly afk. Obviously, the effort will increase the more characters you have running PI.

Convenience - Moderate. You can find PI anywhere, but it's most profitable outside of hisec (which is good news if you're a non-hisec PVPer). More advanced PI setups with short extraction cycles will require you to stay close to your PI installations since you'll need to return to them quite regularly - with this in mind, many people prefer to keep a dedicated PI alt on location to allow their main more freedom of movement.

Fun Factor - Fairly low, unless you're a big fan of farmville. PI is mostly a solo activity which may or may not involve plenty of spreadsheets, and most of your time will be spent in a hauler.

Startup Requirements - Low. You'll need to train some basic skills, but they shouldn't take too long even across multiple characters. The PI network itself should be fairly easy and cheap to set up, and the main work is in designing your planets in the first place.

Profiting from Destruction

These income streams don't really fall under the above categories, but what ties them together is that they're designed around making money from your PVP environment (either directly or indirectly). They're also, generally, quite fun! These are good options for people who want to spend all of their game time PVPing and having fun, don't want to rely on alts for their isk, and don't mind living off a fairly low budget.


There are many definitions of piracy, however for these purposes we're talking about any form of PVP where the primary goal is profiting, either from looting the wrecks of your victims or by the payment of a ransom. This covers traditional lowsec piracy, hunting ratters in nullsec, and hisec piracy activities such as suicide ganking and baiting mission runners. While you may not consider all of these to be piracy, they all share the common theme of preying on the vulnerable and the valuable for financial reward.

While piracy is not as lucrative as most other isk sources, it's one of the few ways in which you can genuinely make your PVP pay for itself, and that makes it incredibly appealing if you can do it well. Of course, some sections of New Eden society frown on these activities (usually more so the 'safer' the space you do it in), and not everyone is interested in such a lifestyle.

Isk per Hour
- Low. While you'll occasionally come across a real goldmine, most of your time as a pirate will be spent searching for targets and your income will be very unreliable. Even full time pirates usually just cover their operating costs and little more. Hisec piracy can be significantly more profitable, since people in hisec are much more likely to be flying around with expensive fittings and cargo.

Effort Required - High. As I mentioned above, piracy generally involves a lot of flying around looking for targets. And is not something you can do semi-afk.

Convenience - Moderate to low. You'll generally need to fly around a lot looking for targets, and must be prepared to move entirely if targets in an area dry up. Lowsec piracy and some forms of hisec piracy will damage your sec status, potentially leaving you unable to access hisec space (other than briefly and in a fast ship). Nullsec piracy generally involves roaming deep into enemy territory and can be very hit and miss. On the plus side, you can do this on your main as you're PVPing (obviously), which means you're not really sacrificing time from your usual PVP activities to engage in it (in which case it would be highly convenient).

Fun Factor - Very high. You're PVPing and making isk at the same time, what's not to like?

Startup Requirements - Very low. You can get into piracy with a t1 frigate or destroyer and a low skilled character with very little startup capital.


Wherever there's PVP there will be wrecks, and wrecks can be salvaged. Most PVPers will loot their victims but don't bother salvaging the wrecks, and t2 wrecks in particular can be incredibly valuable. By fitting up a fast or stealthy ship with a few salvagers and combing over battle sites once the participants have moved on, you can make a very tidy profit!

Isk per Hour - Moderate. You're very reliant on finding good wrecks to salvage, however if you know that a fight featuring t2 ships has taken place nearby (for example, an AF gang has just been killed), grabbing a salvage ship and going to pick over their remains can net you a very nice income in a short space of time.

Effort Required - Moderate to high. You need to be concentrating since hostiles could turn up at any moment, however there's no significant time commitment involved and it's easy to do ad-hoc.

Convenience - High. Whether you created them yourself or not, the chances are there'll be wrecks all over your usual PVP haunts. You can even fit an offline salvager in one of your spare high slots and online it after fights to salvage the wreck.

Fun Factor - Pretty high actually. Since most wrecks are close to gates and other heavily travelled locations, you'll need to be sneaky and evade hostiles while you go about your business.

Startup Requirements - Very low. You need a salvager, that's about it.

Remember, wrecks aren't the only debris left by a battle! In nullsec especially, you'll often encounter flights of abandoned at the site of a battle. T2 drones can be worth quite a bit to a new player, and come in handy for experienced players too - it only takes a few seconds to fly over and scoop them!

Ninja Salvaging

This doesn't quite fit into piracy, and doesn't quite fit into salvaging (at least in the sense I'm talking about above). Ninja salvaging is the act of salvaging (and sometimes looting) other people's PVE wrecks in hisec, generally without their consent. This can be done for profit, or it can be done to goad the owner into fighting you. While ninja salvaging isn't particularly profitable for established players, it can be a good source of isk for newbies and can also be great fun.

Isk per Hour - Low. NPC wrecks are worth the same as t1 player ships, which is not all that much. Since you generally can't tractor wrecks owned by someone else (and you'll probably have the mission runner themselves to compete with), it'll also take you longer to salvage things than it would if you were simply salvaging your own mission. You can also make quite a nice income by selectively looting high value modules, although remember that this will allow the mission runner to shoot at you.

Effort Required - High. You'll need to scan down the mission and then actively fly from wreck to wreck, while also paying attention to rat aggro to make sure you're not getting shot at (mission runners will often warp out in an attempt to divert the rat aggro to you).

Convenience - Moderate. You'll need to go into hisec, but you can do this anywhere that there are mission runners.

Fun Factor - High. The fact that you're actively competing with someone definitely adds enjoyment, and there's an element of danger if you're not careful with rat aggro. If you loot from a wreck (as opposed to simply salvaging) and the owner opens fire on you, this can potentially lead to a PVP encounter too!

Startup Requirements - Low. You'll need probing skills in order to locate mission runners, but otherwise all you really need to start off is a frigate and a salvager.

Other Isk Sources

There are many ways to make isk, and this list can't possibly cover them all. If I've left something off this list, it's probably because I don't know enough about it to really make a proper assessment of it. A few examples are:

Production - Something I know very little about, but which I know some PVPers use for a living.

Selling supplies to PVP areas - Similar to station trading, there's good money to be made by buying things in trade hubs and then selling them in a more remote location where there's a lot of PVP. Having a good market in an area can also increase PVP activity there, as well as ensuring you have plenty of supplies for yourself.

Mining - Not a the best option for a PVPer since it requires completely different skills to combat, however it can be done afk and some PVPers do mine on an alt.

Scamming and corp infiltration - I've never really tried either of these - I'm too nice a guy and usually just end up feeling bad! However if you're willing to set aside your morals and play the bad guy, I'm lead to believe that both of these can be quite good money and good fun, albeit hit and miss for obvious reasons.

Faction Warfare - With major changes coming to faction warfare in the near future, I decided not to cover it here. Suffice to say, faction warfare missions and LP are another potential isk source, and in the past have been quite profitable.


This deserves a section to itself, despite the fact that I don't have much to say about it. If you don't have the time or inclination to grind isk then selling PLEX can often be the sensible solution, particularly if you have spare change in real life - let someone else grind the isk for you.

My one caution is that given the amount of isk this provides for what feels like no effort (since the effort has already been done in RL and is not mentally associated with the isk), selling PLEX can cause you to significantly undervalue the ships that you fly. You won't get quite the same rush from flying a shiny ship if you can just replace it at the click of a button, and it's fairly common for people to sell a PLEX only to binge all the isk on things that they probably never would have considered flying or fitting otherwise. It's still a sensible choice in many scenarios, but overusing it can reduce the quality of your gaming experience.

So readers, I've talked long enough - tell me, how do fund your PVP habit?


  1. Thanks for the read good sir. I recently set up a PI chain for my own passive ISK generation. Its nice and close to a trade hub, but in low enough sec space where there is actually an abundancy of resources on the planet. (another reason I wanted to do that is I want to have a planet to play around with some Dust people on eventually)

  2. Live in a wormhole, pvp in wormhole/low-sec connections/nulsec connections. Find new and interesting people to kill every day (or find no one) and make a ton of cash doing it. Risks are high and there's boredom if you don't chain collapse. But you do end up thinking of 150m ships as throwaway and t3s as standard.

    1. Definitely this. Wormhole PVE can get me about 200-300m/hr in our Class 6, They're engaging and interesting, and you can find Low/Null exits constantly for good PVP (or just PVP in the wormholes)

  3. Pure pirate representing. Life's too short to let PvE suck it right out of me.

    1. Heya, Piracy Bro!

      Yeah, I too am a strong supporter of the Pew-for-your-isk approach. Ransoms, salvaged mods and careful loot sales sustain me just fine.
      And by 'fine' I mean 'break even'.

      Tried other forms of income, but only major corp theft appealed to me and my rather good reputation as an honorable practitioner of Yarr would be hurt if people found out I was doing corp thefts on a an alt.


  4. Really good general overview, but (and the first commenter already touched on this) you really should PI as a potential source of income. The fact that you can manage your colonies from anywhere in the galaxy and that it often takes only a couple of minutes per 2-7 days per colony makes it viable for PvPers I would think.

    1. I haven't added anything about PI because I honestly don't know anything about it - I've never looked into it and I really have no idea how it compares to the alternatives. If anyone is able to provide a quick overview of PI, I'd be happy to add it to the list.

    2. I'd say the biggest advantage of PI is that it's cheap to get set up on all 3 characters on a single account, and if you do 2-day cycles you log in those characters every 2 days, update your planets, and log off. It's a small stream (under 50 million a month for low-effort methods)
      There are two basic schools in PI - the single-planet system and the production system. Single Planet PI is a process where you set up to create somewhat valuable goods (like Mechanical Parts or Coolant) all one one planet (like a Barren or Gas one). This is easier for a very low-effort (and lower income) process, since you can do a lot of set-and-forget until you fill your planetary storage. Multi Planet PI uses two (or more) planets to produce P1 (one level of refining) materials that you then ship to a factory planet for combination. This one is a bit more intensive (more shipping required, more time involved) so you need to be near your production area frequently. The hardest part of PI is playing the market game, because prices aren't always best in market hubs, so you need to do some hauling of your final product.

    3. As far as PI goes I can give a rough summary.

      Isk per Hour
      The isk per hour is low to moderate. With max PI skills I generate roughly 14-15 million isk per day per char inside a WH, or about 1 plex a month. While this sounds low, if all 3 characters on your account have PI trained you can make 3 times the amount. While subject to market whims, the profit does scale with the amount of alts you have doing it. I actively play 3 accounts and use the two open character slots on them as PI alts making about 100-130 mil a day depending on market prices. Of course this is around peak output/effort so lazier setups will be lower.

      High to low
      You need to get your PI products from point a to point b and you need to go to the system where you're planets are at which either way means trips to a market hub. Also you effectively have to keep returning to the system your colony is set up in to export/import materials. The above issues are generally mitigated by having a dedicate PI alt that logs on and off in that system if you do short extraction times and regular updates, or set longer extraction rates and come visit/update when you can/want for lower profit margins. Also while it can be done in high sec, Custom office taxes will eat into profits, making the best PI done in low sec or null. Overall like anything else you just need to balance the convenience factor with potential profits.

      Effort required
      Low to Moderate
      Aside from initial startup time, the amount of effort is relatively low. 1 Character can update extraction cycles in about 5 minutes or less, and interplanetary hauling can be done semi afkish. The highest amounts of effort is hauling through hostile space, which will require your attention. The other factor on effort is PI does require regular maintenance, much akin to pruning a garden. Some quick daily checks keeps profits flowing. Also as I mentioned with scaling, individual characters are quick, but 5 minutes x 6 alts means 30 minutes of clicking so pushing potential profits can increase effort.

      Fun Factor
      Low to moderate?
      This is Eve Farmville. If you think farmville is fun then yes. Otherwise, this is mostly a solo activity where spreadsheets may or may not be involved, done mostly in a hauler. Luckily other than on hauling days PI doesn't take too long.

      Startup Requirements
      L4 PI skills are pretty quick to train, and initial planetary setup cost are less than the cost of a battleship. However this can ramp up a little if you decide to start setting up your own player owned custom offices, or are getting heavily taxed on your PI goods. Also on the effort side, the start up is where the most effort is required to plan your planetary colonies, find a good PI system, build your colonies, and route your materials. Once that is done the 5 minutes of bhutan pushing to receive bacon can happen.

      Also a side note, Vanguards are now about 70-80 million isk per hour with ideal fleet compositions, and can quickly drop off with less than ideal fleet compositions. Ideal fleet comps are faction BSes/T3's with 2 logis and offgrid skirmish boosters.

    4. I have lowsec PI running on three characters and can just about afford a PLEX each month (7 day cycles, not an optimal setup, being a noob), if that gives you any idea of how profitable it can be.

    5. Anonymous - Thanks, that's really useful. I've trimmed it a little and combined it with some of the comments I've had from elsewhere, and updated the PI section accordingly.

  5. Commenting in this separately - losec incursions (although rare) are probably a good fit for pirate corps and groups because you fit for PvP in them anyway.

  6. I emailed Azual about making ISK while trying to be a PVP'er; so thank you very much for the article. I have a sub 5M SP toon and am in EVE-Uni, spending much of my time in their lo-sec camp or solo roaming. To make ISK, I've been mostly missioning, salvaging my mission wrecks and then selling the salvage. I've reprocessed the loot (excepting any good named stuff) and either manufactured t1 frigs to PVP with or sold some extras on the market. I have a small colony producing O2, but that isn't exactly super profitable, esp. with the taxes. I'll have to look into other goods to produce.

    After PVP'ing for a couple of days, I forget how utterly boring missions are. The only benefit is that if my wife wants to talk, I can actually carry on a conversation while running a mission; something that's mostly impossible while actually fighting.

    Thanks again Azual.

  7. This is a great post, especially for someone like me who... dislikes ISK making. I do realise it has to be done though. I have to HTFU a bit more before I come back :)

  8. Exploration.

    That doesn't appear to be in your guide XD.

    1. I've mentioned complexes, but aside from that I don't really know enough about exploration to comment on it. What kind of thing do you do?

    2. "Anomalies and Complexes" That's exploration.

    3. Many of my corp mates make great isk through exploration. Also its a great way to provoke fights. Escalations can be profitable but will usually send you to a lower sec rating for the final legs. High sec end in Low. Low sec ends in Null.

    4. My favourate form of making ISK is anything involving probes and either a salvager/codebreaker/analyzer. And when scanning from an alt and following with the firepower, you have the added ability to quickly scan down a mission runner too.

      Great post btw!

      P.S. You did forget wormholes though. Can make a nice sum when running a few anomalies in an inactive wormhole

  9. You forgot to mention faction war alt as part of the missioning and that datacores are being moved into the faction war stores.

  10. This was actually a pretty good guide. Before moving to null, I just used to blitz L3s and grind thru L4s when I got bored with exploration.
    Especially in hisec, exploration is VERY hit and miss. Some times you'll run into goldmines of sites...other days you'll grind through site after site, picking up a few thousand rounds of Shadow Serpentis Tungsten/Iron/Useless S or whatever cheap shitty faction ammo other area rats drop.
    Then there's days where you find a Daredevil BPC (I have yet to have one of those days, for the record), and you swim in the cash for a while.
    Nullsec exploration is MUCH more lucrative, there're more sites available, and far less "competition". Especially Radar sites -- those'll cough up a LOT of decryptors worth millions each, and can be solo'd in a whelpCane with a codebreaker in the mids. Downside? Need a cloaky hauler alt to fly some types of that loot back to hisec. There isn't much demand for decryptors in null at all.

    You know what's really surprsing? Sometimes you can get some decent shit out of those "static" plexes that show up as celestial beacons on overview, (also the star map, look at "DED Site Report") "Serpentis Drug Lab", etc, sorta sites. Even the DED-1s have coughed up some decent Core C-Types -- ANPs, Armor reppers, etc, that can either be used to pimp a mission/plexing or "shiny" PvP boat, or sold for profit.

  11. Like this guide! I've done station trading, salvaging, ninja salvaging, ratting, manufacturing, planetary interaction, missions, mining and hauling. Made the most with station trading. Sometimes 400M+/mo. Really too much effort/time though. Now I just buy Plex to do what I really want to in the game. Supplement it with my strange habit of building characters then selling them (since 2006). Tends to bring in a bunch of isk when you're sick of a character and want to start something new.

  12. I feel like there is another option that's not really thought about for new players that teaches nullsec mechanics, and that is drone hunting. A simple frigate with MWD and cloak is not only able to evade most camps, but can also grab up a lot of drones in the process as well.

    Seriously, finding T2 sentries laying around is so win in a 2 week old pilot's eyes. This suggestion also deals with any friends of yours who think Eve is a boring game.

    1. That's a great idea, I'll add it to the salvaging section!

    2. This works in high sec, as well, and you don't need the cloak.

      Many mission runners leave T2 drones lying around. You just need to find them via scan probes.

      I've literally collected hundreds of abandoned T2 drones in popular high sec mission systems. I've even picked up a few Augmented and Faction drones.

  13. If I find myself running low on isk (although I mostly fly t1 stuff or t2 frigs, so it takes a while), I'll go out to nullsec somewhere. GW is nice since it's really empty. I'll scan down a good number of systems, looking for radar or magnemetric sites. In high/low sec space radar site are by far the more profitable, in null sec the tables are turned. Mag sites which often yield highly valuable t2 salvage are more profitable. (almost) all of them can be solo'd in a drake. You can make some very nice money doing that. I usually jet stuff at a safe spot, and then scout with the drake, and come back for it if the next system is clear. When I leave the area, I'll dump everything in a jet can, and then come pack for it in a cloaky. (which is another reason why I like mag sites better, salvage takes up less cargo space than those annoying datacores)

  14. I won SoE once. That was a magic bullet that made my isk troubles go away, so I don't see why you guys can't just go out and win blink or something.

  15. Great guide. Done a bit of everything myself, and found T2 salvaging to be the most profitable, easiest and risk-free, esp. for new players.

    Why risk-free?

    Because you can train up a salvage alt in less than a week, and successfully do T2 salvaging in a fast cheap T1 frig (like a Vigil or Atron). Salvage takes up virtually no cargo space, so these small ships are ideal for the job.

    If you lose the ship, no BFD - even if you spring for a few salvage rigs. A single Intact Armor Plate will pay for a lot of these ships. And, if you get podded, no BFD 'cause you are using the no-cost alpha clone, with no implants.

    I usually make a couple hundred million ISK on a single fast run through low sec, even on a slow night.

    1. I am really interested in this way to do isk, as i am new, I am not really sure how to do this, tell me if I am wrong:

      I have to do an alt, train it to salvage, get an atron, and go salvage wrecks in low sec ? the main part I'm not sure about is where to salvage.

      And it is risk free because I will insure the atron and even if podded, I won't need to upgrade the basic clone right ?

    2. You don't need to use an alt - the only real benefit there is not risking being podded on your higher SP main (a fairly low risk in lowsec providing you just spam warp to something as your shuip is destroyed).

      Just get a fast frigate with a salvager, fly around in lowsec and look for t2 frigate/cruiser wrecks (which will be labelled something like 'minmatar advanced frigate wreck'). The most common place you'll find them is on gates - look at nearby lowsec systems on and go for areas with a reasonably high number of kills in the last 24 hours.

    3. Yes, with the 1-week-old salvage alt, you only need the free alpha clone and you never need to upgrade it. Getting podded will cost you nothing - so, you can fly around carelessly, in low sec and null sec, without ever worrying if someone tries to kill you. I usually don't bother spamming warp when my ship is destroyed - I just let them pod me, so that I can get back to my home station faster, and pick up a new salvage ship.... :)

      As Azual said, just fly around low sec. Set your directional scanner for maximum distance, and check for wrecks, when you jump into a new system. If you see any T2 wrecks, jump to the gates, belts, planets, and NPC stations to look for them. Stay away from player POSes (ie. moons). If you can't find them easily, then just move on to the next low sec system.

      BTW - the T2 wrecks will be labeled something like "Minmatar Elite Frigate Wreck". "Elite" = T2, and "Advanced" = T3.

      Don't be lazy. Once you've salvaged a couple of wrecks, drop off your salvage safely at a nearby station before continuing to look for more wrecks. You *will* eventually get popped, and you don't want to lose all of your salvage.

  16. But Azual what is your source of income?

    I was surprised to see that you didn't experienced PI or exploration so it made me curious on how you can afford that many ships!

    1. I've done quite a lot of things for my isk. I used to make quite a lot drawing forum signatures for people, I have R&D agents on 5 characters, and I ran a lowsec reaction POS for a while. I also make a bit from private PVP instructing.

      It helps that I generally fly fairly cheap, and don't lose my ships that often (although that second one is something that I'm still working on, I still feel like I'm too cautious).

  17. Good writup, but a couple of points I would like to add:

    -PI in Hisec is ultra, ultra low profit, possibly even less than R&D, because the concentrations of the resources on the planets is at the lowest possible. If you can do it in Nullsec or a wormhole (and if the wormhole you don't need it for POS fuel) and then get it to a hisec trade hub in bulk batches with a jump freighter, that would be much more lucrative since the concentrations of the resources can be over 6 times as high, and therefore so will be the extraction rates.

    -Exploration and scanning for hacking/archaeology/salvaging sites. Almost mandatory for making a profit in a wormhole, along with the combat sites. Not better than L4 missions in Hisec by a long shot, but in Nullsec you can sometimes find sites with tech II salvage/loot that can be worth quite a fair amount, and some of the sites don't even have rats in them. The trick is getting it to a decent market hub to sell without getting blown up (which I've been the victim of at least once :( )

  18. Actually, something else I forgot to add to my previous post. You mention income rates as "low, moderate, high", etc. but that's still a bit nebulous and everyone's perspective is relative. Some actual concrete ISK/hour numbers might be helpful.

    Some initial numbers that may help (keep in mind, these numbers are before the Inferno tweaks to drone loot and the death of mining botters, so I don't know what the new values would be given the changes in the market):

    HISEC LVL 4 MISSIONS: Really depends on what missions you get, even for L4's some just plain suck in terms of income vs time spent to do them, but in a semi-pimped out battleship (current personal favorite is a navy Scorp with tech II cruise missles) and factoring in all profit including LP, sold loot/salvage and the bounties you could be looking at anywhere from 25-45 million/hour, but fully at the keyboard (not AFK).

    LVL 4 R&D AGENTS: I believe one L4 R&D agent currently puts out 86.47 RP/day, and a datacore costs 50 points (I noticed that the point cost will be doubled in Inferno in late May, so that will definitely be a factor). Some datacores can go anywhere from 150k to 250k ISK each, so with a maxed 6 agents (pre-Inferno) you could be looking at around 1.5-2.6 million ISK/day that takes virtually no effort to earn.

    1. R&D agents require a substantial investment in skill training, to get maximum RP return from the maximum number of agents - esp. if you want to farm a variety of datacores.

      Also, to use the L4 R&D agents, you do need to grind standings with the appropriate NPC corps.

      I would not rank this as "virtually no effort".

    2. If you mission run regularly for one race, those standings will build up automatically. I meant more as in once you get access to them you don't need to do much to maintain them.

    3. No, you need standings with the actual R&D corps, standings with faction is not enough. To make matters worse R&D corps have very few security agents, leaving you to a worse grind than usual.

  19. Setup a successful corp and get rich from taxes :).

  20. Contrary to popular belief, high sec PI is not useless.

    High sec PI is sufficiently productive to entirely cover the fuel costs of a small POS tower. Some of the PI products, such as Coolant, are used directly to make POS fuel blocks. The excess PI products are sold on market and the ISK used to purchase the ice-derived POS fuel components and starbase charters.

    A high sec POS tower, in turn, can generate a substantial amount of passive income - via ME/PE research of BPOs, copying BPOs to create BPCs, and the invention of T2 BPCs.

  21. I have never messed with this, and last I read of it was a long time ago, but what about pirating NPCs?


    No idea how up to date eve-wiki is these days, but that's the gist of it.

  22. Is it even possible to do lvl 4 missions for pirates without being part of alliance that owns the sector?

    1. Yes, all the agents are in NPC stations, which anyone can dock in and where no alliance can claim sovereignty. The locals can make it hard for you, but it's very possible providing you're careful. Some regions like Stain and Curse have a large number of NPC stations, which makes it relatively easy.

    2. What about jumping gates in battleship? Also if combat scanner probes are up in the air.. probably safest thing is to dock for awhile? Maybe it's my nullsec survival skills, but I lose destroyers in null very often. I am terrified of even thinking bringing couple hundred million battleship (even cheap BS) there on alone. I would go to some other non mission space which is pretty empty, but mission space is rarely empty. Could you write a guide about nullsec missioning sometime, please. It will bring hope to people they can do it. Also it will bring more people into nullsec to kill for you :)

    3. If you're running missions in hostile space, most people will either use a t3 cruiser with the nullifier subsystem (which is very hard to catch) or will use a scout when moving between systems.

  23. What is your idea of Low / Moderate / High isk income? Did you have an isk per hour figure that I managed to miss somewhere? Just curious as I have often mined in safe space with hulks and can make roughly 300mil a day per ship.

    1. It's just meant to be indicative, the numbers for each activity will vary based on your skills, ship, general efficiency and non-afkness etc.

      300mil/day sounds pretty extreme for mining though - how many hours per day is that?

    2. To be fair this is also with orca support. I am a die hard carebear miner though who usually mines 10-14 hours a day (when I get a chance to play). I have been looking for alternate income so I don't have to mine so hard to get those kinds of numbers.

      My extreme number has been as high as 302mil in one day per ship(really good day and stripped multiple belts across a number of systems. 3 hulks 1 orca, 2 haulers). I used stations in the systems that had stations to put my ore when orca needed unloaded, while I had a freighter come behind me and pick it up (yeah safe space mining).
      It gets more fun when you add even more hulks, not to mention really keeps mining from getting super dull.

      I have heard rumors of making as much as 60-100mil an hour running incursions although never found those numbers to be true when I tried it out, but figured I may have been doing something wrong. My toons with high combat skills only make 20mil an hour at best doing level 4 missions and that's after getting isk for items purchased via loyalty points. Normally I really only see between 8-15mil an hour doing die hard mission running and I find that to be harder than mining to get those numbers. Especially when you have to run the missions back to back and they don't always give you to good paying level 4's either.

      I was just wondering if wh space was any better with the losses that could be involved or if perhaps the incursions really could pay that high. I have also heard of null complexes making as much as 800mil an hour with stratic cruisers (namely Tengu's) but I have yet to see proof of that either.

      Sorry for talking you ear off. Was just curious to find out if some of the rumors are true or just all talk. I tell you though I have seen my hulk pilots make 300mil with orca support and a well planned mining day.

    3. Yes, some of those figures you're talking about are accurate. It's partly just a matter of finding the most efficient way to do it. With the right ship and a good method, most combat-based PVE activities are significantly better isk/hours than mining.


The Altruist is the Eve Online blog of Azual Skoll, PVP instructor and small gang PVPer.

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