Thursday, 12 July 2012

Running Missions for Fun and Profit

Missions come with several benefits to attract pilots to them.  There is the cash rewards and the private and personal rats that combat missions provide.  Missions also provide Loyalty Points (LP) which my be traded for faction ammo, modules, ships or implants.  Lastly, missions provide standings with both the corp you are working for and the faction the corp belongs to.  I have a section on standings later.

Missions come in three basic types; Distribution, Mining and Security.  The mission type determines the activity you must perform to complete the mission. Here is a quick summary of the types.

These missions are about moving something from one place to another.  Some can be done in a frigate while others will need a top tier hauler to achieve.  The biggest cargo I've seen was 40,000m3 but it was able to be split into smaller parts allowing for multiple trips.  There are no rats and these missions can almost be done AFK.  The only danger these missions have is that you are sometimes sent to low sec to collect or deliver something.  Check the Low Sec Missioning section for hints on this.

Mining missions are exactly what they seem.  The agent asks you to mine and bring to the station a set amount of an ore.  No need to refine it.  The ore is usually a made up variety and is worthless otherwise.  The site you are supposed to get the ore is a private deadspace zone.  There is usually just enough ore in the site to meet the mission requirements.  Make sure you get it all or you will fail the mission.  The deadspace belts can still spawn rats so take some protection with you.  From what I've heard the money to time ratio on these missions are pretty poor.

This is where the real money is.  These are combat missions.  You are sent to a deadspace site to kill every rat or to retrieve something.  There is usually a lot of bounty in the rats and mission rewards for a level 4 mission can be a couple of million.  Furthermore, the wrecks and loot can come to a tidy sum too if you salvage the site.  We'll look into Security missions further later in the post.

The Benefit of Standings

Corp standings are gained when you complete a mission.  You can lose standings if you fail missions.  Faction standings come from special missions like the Career Agent Missions or Storyline missions.  You get a storyline mission every 16 normal missions.  You will be notified of it via the notifications interface.  There are a number of skills which help with the gain of standings.  Most notably, is the Connections skill which will instantly put up your current standings with any corp you have positive standings with for each level trained.

There are a number of things tied to corp and faction standings.  The first is what level agents you may access.  As you go up in standings you can access the more valuable agents.  Here is a little table showing standings needed for each agent.

Agent Level      Standings
         1                 Anyone
         2                     1.0
         3                     3.0
         4                     5.0
         5                     7.0

Please note that if you train Connections to level 3 or 4 and do a couple of level 1 missions for a corp you should be able to jump straight to level 2 missions.  This is a great way to get ahead.

Having standings with a corp also affects thing like your tax on refining ore and placing sales and purchase orders.  You can see these values in the Market and Refining screens.  Lastly you need a standing of 8.0 to install a jump clone.  Jump clones are fairly useful especially if you plan to PvP occasionally as you can preserve your implants in one clone and use another.  If you are trying to get jump clones make sure that the corp you are working for has medical bays on at least some of their stations.

Faction standings can be substituted for corp standings for the purposes of accessing mission agents.  That means with a faction standing of 7.0 you will be able to use any agent that faction has.  That's pretty useful if you move about changing corps or such.  There are also some COSMOS agents that give you faction ships if you have high enough faction standings.

If your corp plans to install a POS in empire high sec space the corp must have a faction standing equal to 10 x sec rating of the system.  That means a faction standing of 5.0 to install a POS in a 0.5 system.  Corp standings are calculated from the average unmodified standings of all contributing corp members.  Contributing members are members that have some standings (+ve or -ve).  That makes it pretty hard for a corp to get a POS without some serious effort.

If you want to join the militia you will need some faction standings.  The Militia Window will tell you how much.  Last time I checked it was 0.5 but they may have changed that.  There was also a deal that you could join the militia any time in the 30 days after you complete the Advanced Combat Career Missions.

You are allowed to refuse one mission per agent every four hours without penalty.  After that you will lose standings if you turn down a mission.  Its a hefty chunk too so think twice about it.

If you do combat missions you will find some missions are against another state. That is, the enemy in the mission is from Gallente or Amarr etc.  Doing these missions will cause you to lose Faction standings with the state you are shooting.  Kill a Caldari ship and your Caldari State standings will go down.  When your effective faction standing reaches -5.0 the navy in that state will attack you on sight.  This gets really annoying especially if you change corps or travel a lot.  When I realised this was happening I stopped doing missions against the states by turning them down.  This sometimes meant I had to go find another agent for a few hours but I can still travel anywhere in Eve.  You should make a decision early in your career whether to accept the faction standings loses or avoid them. 

You can share the corp standings you get from a mission with other fleet members.  In fact you can share the payout too.  The benefit of this is you can help a friend gain standings with a corp by running your own missions and sharing the rewards.  This works well if you are running level 4s.  You cannot share faction standings from missions in any way.

Mission Levels

Mission levels are a guide to how difficult they are and how rewarding they are.  Level 1 missions pay fairly badly whereas level 4 missions can be worth up to 20 MISK each (bounties and loot included).  Level one combat missions are meant for a frigate or destroyer to complete.  Level 2 combat missions are for a cruiser.  Level 3 equal battlecruiser and level 4 are for battleships or advanced ships like strategic cruisers.  Level 5 missions are always in low sec and usually need a team to complete.  There is some debate as to whether level 5s are worth the effort.  The typical goal is to reach level 4 missions and start earning serious ISK.

The Level system for Distribution and Mining missions is a guide to how difficult it is to complete the missions.  Expect Level 4 mining missions to want a high level barge to mine.  Level 4 courier missions will either go to low sec a lot or need a big hauler.

Doing Security Missions

Most people will want to do security missions.  They are the best money and are the least boring.  That's not to say they don't get repetitive.  There is a limited number of different missions and you will get the same set fairly regularly.  This has an advantage, you can plan ahead.  There are many web sites available to detail the missions you will encounter and its always a good idea to research a mission before undocking.  Here is a site I recommend .  Check out the number and type of rats you are facing in each mission.  Find out what damage type the enemy is weak to.  Find out what damage type you will be exposed to.  Most importantly, find out if any rats will warp scramble you.  Fortunately, scrambling rats don't show up until level 4 missions so new pilots can relax a little.  However it does illustrate one of my primary rules of PvE.  Kill the frigates first and fast.  This is because it will be the frigates that web or scram you and that is what will get you killed.

Another tip for running missions is to align to a celestial object like a gate, station or the sun.  If you are facing that object and moving at your best speed you can warp to that object almost instantly.  That saves you time when things are going pear shaped.  Having to align and get to warp speed is often too much time.  Decide in advance when you are going to bug out.  That time will depend on your tank.  Its too late to say "maybe I better leave" when you go into structure.  Armour tanks should be one their way out at 20-25% armour.   Shield tanks should be leaving at about 25% shields.  You can always come back when you recharge.

Make sure you note in the mission briefing if you are supposed to bring something back.  The items usually drops in a can or wreck from the last rat but check the mission info in the website first.  Nothing is more annoying than having to go back to the mission site a second time.

The briefing for a mission appears in your journal.  If you open the briefing and then minimise it, the briefing will pop up when you complete the mission.  This is useful sometimes when you just have to kill a certain rat.

There is often some money left lying in space after a mission.  I'm talking about the wrecks from the ships you killed.  They often contain something or can be salvaged into salvage materials.  A destroyer with tractor beams and salvagers is great for this but nothing beats the Noctis for this job.  If you salvage your missions then training for the noctis is a must.  Its tractor beams can go out past 80km.

A pro tip for Salvaging a site.  You can make a bookmark in each room of the mission then turn in the mission.  You can then come back to each bookmark by warping straight to them.  The wrecks will still be there but the mission site will be gone.  No need to travel between gates.  You can also avoid losing the time bonus this way.

The security rating of the system your agent is in affects the value of the rats and the mission rewards.  That means its better to mission in 0.5 than in 0.7.  Finding a nice out of the way spot for missions is a good move.  I'm not telling you where I go.

The rats from opposing states don't have bounties.  Instead they drop dogtags.  These tags can be turned in at Navy stations for ISK or can be used to buy items from the loyalty point store.

People Being Rats

Mission runners usually just want to do their stuff.  However your mission zone is not completely private.  A ship with combat scanner probes can find your zone.  This happens a lot in major mission hubs like Dodixie.  The prober comes into the site and starts taking loot and salvage.  Of course he is flagged as a thief for taking stuff (salvaging is not theft) however attacking them is usually the wrong move.  The Thief is most likely baiting you into a fight.  He'd let you kill his little ship and then come back with a fully kitted combat ship.  They often have friends too.  You should also know that most PvE fitted ships fair very poorly in PvP.  Wrong design philosophy.  The best option is to salvage everything before he gets it.  Personally I'd recommend finding somewhere quieter to run missions.

Missions in Low Sec

I don't think you will ever get a mining mission that sends you to low sec.  If you do, refuse it.  The risk is not worth it.  For distribution missions its often ok to run low sec.  Check the blog on Surviving Low Sec and Eve Survival Skills.    Safespots and Escapes are most useful to you. Use a cheap ship if you can.  If you have spare low slots on your hauler then fit some warp core stabilisers to make scramming you hard.

Pilots doing Security missions are very vulnerable in low sec.  Many pirates will be carrying combat probes and will look for you if they see lots of wrecks on the directional scan.  They will often wait for you to be engaged with a whole room of rats before jumping on you.  For this reason its usually better to get an agent that is a long way from low sec.  Agents next to low sec systems will send you there often regardless of their level.

Don't fit a cloak and think you are protected.  Cloaks don't work if you are targeted by anything.  That means rats too. Cloaks are useful for warping to a safearea and hiding until the pirate goes away.  Other than that they have limited use.

Consider getting a friend to watch the gate to the mission zone for you.  They can site cloaked or be 100km+ from it and just watch.  If something turns up you get more time to warp out.  Make sure you have aligned to a gate or planet and kill scramming frigates so you can warp out immediately.  Never warp to a moon in low sec.  POS are allowed to kill on sight in low sec so you should avoid them (POS are always at moons in case you didn't make the connection).

Warp Core Stabilisers sound like a good idea for low sec but they give you a -50% penalty on both lock on time and lock on range.  That will make the mission harder.  If you are jumped by a gang the stabs wont help anyway.

Loyalty Point Stores

You gain loyalty points for completing missions (also for other things in the militia).  These can be traded on the Loyalty Point Store on the corp stations.  The list of loyalty points that you have can be found in your journal.  LP can be used to buy faction ammo, faction modules, faction ships and implants.  Some items will require other bits besides the LP.  Essentially LP are another income source.  You will need to do some calculations and research to work out what is the best Isk/LP rate.  Many pilots just use LP to keep themselves stocked with faction ammo.  However you can make some good money from LP.

LP stores are now the main source of tech one implants like the attribute enhancing implants.  Some missions drop implants though so check the market before you buy from a LP store.  Some implants are cheaper on the market.

The Militia uses loyalty points in a more expansive manner.  I'm investigating this and it will probably end up in another blog entry.

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