This guide is going to be telling you everything you need to become an explorer. My personal background is more in wormhole exploring so the Nullsec parts might be a little thin.
Your goal is going to be named Data and or Relic Sites. These are called named sites since they have a pirate faction in their name (Sansha, Guristas, Serpentis, Angels, Blood Raider) and are called like this:
|[Faction] Monument Site
|[Faction] Sparking Transmitter
|[Faction] Temple Site
|[Faction] Survey Site
|[Faction] Science Outpost
|[Faction] Command Center
|[Faction] Crystal Quarry
|[Faction] Data Mining Site
Typically Data Sites are less valuable than Relic Sites and higher-level sites have better loot. In C1 – C3 wormholes all kinds of sites can spawn, while in Nullsec each region only spawns sites that match the local NPCs.
Here is a quick overview of Relic Site payout based on a reddit post
|ISK / Site (buy)
|ISK / Site (sell)
|Branch, Deklein, Geminate, Pure Blind,
Tenal, Tribute, Vale of the Silent, Venal
|Catch, Esoteria, Paragon Soul, Providence
|Delve, Period Basis, Querious
|Cache, Curse, Detorid, Feythabolis,
Great Wildlands, Immensea, Impass,
Insmother, Omist, Scalding Pass,
Tenerifis, Wicked Creek
|Cloud Ring, Fade, Fountain,
Outer Ring, Syndicate
|Cobalt Edge, Etherium Reach,
The Kalevala Expanse, Malpais, Oasa,
Perrigen Falls, The Spire
These sites have no enemy NPCs guarding them. Single containers can explode if you fail two hacks but they won’t deal any damage.
- Caveat: Avoid [Faction] Covert Research Facility, these sites do explode after some time or failing a hack and deal 8-12k damage, which might result in the loss of your ship.
You don’t need a lot to explore, but you should train these, the higher the better.
- Archaeology (for Relic Analyzer Coherence)
- Hacking (for Data Analyzer Coherence)
- Astrometrics (for scanning strength)
- Astrometric Rangefinding (for scanning strength)
- Astrometric Acquisition (for scanning speed)
- Astrometric Pinpointing (for scanning accuracy)
- Cloaking (If you are Omega)
There is a lot of other skills that will benefit your ship, but most of them aren’t necessary – I would spend time skilling the Magic 14 that will benefit every single ship you will fly.
Fitting your Ship
I think it is important as a new player to learn how to fit ships to your own needs. Therefore I am going over the most common modules an explorer might want to use. If you want to dive straight in there are already community-made fits in your fitting window, called Starter Exploration and T1 Exploration.
Typically new Explorers should use the T1 Exploration Frigate of their faction (Heron, Imicus, Probe, Magnate). The Astero / T2 versions should only be flown in combination with a Covert Ops Cloaking Device – sadly only available to Omega pilots.
- A Probe Launcher is an absolute necessity; beginners may want to use T1 Core Probes. After that Sister Core Probes are a good upgrade as soon as you can afford them. Always bring at least 16 probes as you might lose a set – and you don’t want to get stranded with no probes.
- If you are Omega, a Prototype Cloak is probably a good idea so you can cloak while scanning, this will be cheaper for a start than going with a T2 ship.
- Guns generally don’t make sense as you will find yourself outclasses by most T1 Combat Frigates.
- A Relic / Data Analyzer is necessary to run your desired sites.
- A Propulsion Module to travel between Cans is pretty vital too, people usually use some kind of 5mn Microwarpdrive.
- A Cargo-Scanner might be useful to see what is in the container before you try to hack it. Some people will tell you to hack every can so the site despawns faster and you don’t leave half-done sites – I would argue that you are new and should not take any consideration for already established players.
- Scanning Upgrades these will make your scanning better in some way, usually, they are not that important, but if you have empty slots you might want to use these.
- Scan Rangefinder Arrays for scan strength
- Scan Acquisition Array for scan speed
- Scan Pinpointing Array for lower deviation of scanned signatures
- As you will lose a fight under almost every circumstance, fitting more tank (in form of shield extenders) generally won’t help you much.
There are 2 ways people go about fitting lowslots, they either want to reduce their align time, allowing them to warp to safety quickly, or they fit Warp Core Stabilizers, allowing them to escape when tackled.
- A warp core stabilizer gives you two extra points of warp core strength, making it possible to warp away from normal points or scrams.
Hunters will often have enough scrams an/or points on their ship to catch you anyway – or they will just use a Warp Disruption Probe (Bubble) which has infinite points of warp disruption, or might even bump you. As a side effect of fitting these modules targeting will also take significantly longer.
- The other way of doing it is to fit agility modules so you can get into warp faster. Here either Nanofibre Internal Structures or Inertial Stabilizers will do, with some small difference in how they work.
- Again fitting tank won’t help you get away, you will only have more time until you die. If you fly with friendly combat ships as a backup it may be an option, but whilst solo generally not.
Here it is almost universally accepted to fit Gravity Capacitor Upgrades, which will increase your scan strength.
- There are also Rigs that give you +10 Coherence in the hacking minigame, however only to one type of site, so either relic or data. If you struggle to hack, this might be an option. Take a look at your hacking and archeology skills first though.
- Memetic Algorithm Banks for Data Analyzer Coherence,
- Emission Scope Sharpener for Relic Analyzer Coherence.
The main thing to consider is that the more players there are in a certain area, the more of them will run the sites, and the fewer sites are going to land in your hands. There will also be more players that prey on the site runners and you will be in more danger.
For wormholes, the amount of people you find in the wormhole is usually dependant on the number of people connected to it. Since about 50% of the EvE player base lives in Hisec you are going to find the most people in wormholes with a Hisec connection. Depending on how close you are to a trade hub this might be a lot of people. Ideally, you use the Ingame Map to find places where there are little people in known space and start wormhole diving from there. Do take this seriously, your success will change significantly based on this.
For Nullsec the most hunters and explorers are found in the Sansha regions, as the loot is pretty good. People like to camp the exits into Hisec or individual Sites (while Wormholers are more opportunistic and will hunt you when they find you, Nullsecers are more Strategic and will set up beforehand in a few Systems). Generally, if there is someone else in local, and exactly one site in the system, then the chances they are cloaked in that site is pretty high.
As u/IronForce_ (on reddit) pointed out exploring in lowsec can be a great Idea too. The profit isn’t as great as wormhole space or nullsec, but there will be no bubbles, making it easier to get trough gatecamps. Most people will be flying ships fit for PvP and therefore not have a probe scanner, thus making the competition pretty small.
If you want to mess with them, you can warp to the site and burn towards a can but don’t stop, just fly right past it. While close activate your analyzer (You will fail the hack, but the site is going to despawn after some time and their camp failed). Just be careful with it.
So now we are going to talk about the process of actually find the sites and wormholes as well. This is done using the Probe Scanner [Alt + P] and Solar System Map [F9].
In the Probe Scanner window, you will find different signatures and your goal is to get their signal strength to 100%. This is done using your scan probes, the tighter together and closer to the actual location of the signature they are, the higher the signal is that you are going to get. So you will have to move them around in the solar system map and slowly shrink the size until you get a single point with 100% Signal. I suggest starting with a single shrink at a time, but once you have good probe scanning skills you be able to double shrink as well. If you aren’t familiar with it yet I suggest running the Exploration Career Agent.
The probe scanner works in a similar fashion to real-life GPS, it is a distance-based locating system. This means that to get only a single point you need at least 4 probes (out of 8) that have the signature within their radius.
- If only 3 Probes connect with the signature the system gets you two possible points as intersection of the 3 radii.
- If one of the points is inside more than 3 radii it can’t be the right one as the 4th probe would have picked it up as well. This means that usually the point further from your scan’s center is the right one.
- If 2 probes found the Site you get a circle (the intersection between the two spheres). All the parts of the circle that are not in any other probes range might be the correct location.
- If a single probe found the site it can be anywhere on the sphere by that probe, but again the areas covered by other probes can’t be it.
When you find wormholes you will have to find out if a Wwormhole is actually worth traveling into.
Before you jump through you can find relevant information in the Information Window [T] of the wormhole as well as by the wormhole appearance as well (Visual WH Identification Guide).
The most important thing to note that wormholes that lead to unknown parts of space are class 1 – 3 wormholes. This is where you will find sites to run.
The other thing to note that wormholes that are reaching the end of its natural lifetime will collapse in less than 4 hours. So if you want to return you might avoid these. I personally like to jump trough when I have no other duties in eve, because the chance that someone follows you is quite small.
Once you are in a wormhole system you can use its J-Tag to get more Information using a site like Anoikis.
The wormholes themselves also have names, but only on the side that people came from when they jumped through initially. If your wormhole is called K162 then it was opened from the other side and you will find the name on the other side (List of Wormhole Names).
Navigating and staying safe
There are multiple things that you should do to keep yourself out of harm’s way.
The first is regularly using your Directional Scanner [V]
This scanner shows you all the entities in a certain circle or cone around your ship, given that they are not cloaked. Even when cloakies come into your system they initially aren’t cloaked yet and need a few seconds to cloak, so you will see them for a few seconds (If you use Dscan at the maximum frequency which is once every 2 seconds and they are within Dscan range you should see them for at least 2 cycles)
The second thing is where you actually go with your ship. Since you are not cloaky you can always be found and chased down with Dscan. But the only way someone can warp to your exact location is by using Combat Probes – those show up on your Dscan. If you sit close to a Planet/Moon/Wormhole/Site the hunter might just try to warp there and see if you are close, so to be safe you should spend as little time as possible near things where others could warp to. The way you can get away from celestial is by dropping a Bookmark [CTRL+B] while you are in warp and then warping to that bookmark. This is called a Safespot or Safe for short.
If you manage to create Safespots that are outside of Dscan range from all warpable objects that is even better – these are commonly called Deepsafes.
Now the only way someone can find you is by using Combat Probes – so watch out on Dscan for them. A good hunter might still get your locations withing a few seconds, so always keep your head on a swivel.
These are often found in Nullsec on gates where a lot of traveling is happening (usually in the connections between Hisec and Nullsec). You can often find them on Zkillboard or Dotlan before you even travel to that system and try to avoid it that way. If you get caught in one then you have a full minute to plan your next steps while the Gatecloak lasts, so take your time. With a Covert Ops ship, it is often enough to Cloak and MWD away at an angle to not get decloaked by anyone (You can hit your MWD up to 5 seconds after you cloak). Without a cloak, it can be a lot harder to escape. Usually, the best thing is to try to get back to the gate as fast as possible and jump again. Another way you can go around Gatecamp is by using Noise-5 Needlejack filaments or Wormholes to get into Nullsec.
On Grid Navigation
Once you have warped to a site, you want to hack the containers. While hacking you try to do two things: Be as fast as possible and still be watchful of your surroundings.
First you should pilot your ship in a way that it stays within 5000m of the target container. There is a few ways to do this.
- If you have a cloak then orbiting at 2000m without a propulsion module on is the best thing to do. You will be able to cloak in an instant since you are more than 2000m away from the container, and you will also be able to scoop the loot since you are closer than 2500m.
- If you don’t have a cloak then keeping at range of 2000m is the best thing to do. You will be able to loot the container without problems, and you will be able to warp off without crashing into the container.
Once you are set activate the Relic or Data Analyzer. You will start the hacking minigame, with the goal to destroy the system core. It will look something like this.
You get to the core by uncovering nodes on the grid. Each node will either be empty, contain a Defensive Subsystem, Power-Up, or a Data cache. Once it is gone it will also show you a number. This number signifies the distance to the next Power-Up, Data Cache, or the Core. These numbers will slowly guide you through the grid.
Has high Coherence and low Strength.
Has low Coherence and high Strength.
Gives 20 extra Coherence to a random Defensive Subsystem at the end of each turn. These are high-priority targets for you.
Lower your Virus Strength by 15. Your Virus Strength cannot go below 10. They are high-priority targets as well.
Gives you 5-10 extra coherence for 3 cycles. Activate these ones immediately.
Reduces a Defense System’s Coherence by 50%. Use it on high Coherence Systems.
Nullifies the next two Defense System attacks against your Virus. Use it before attacking high-strength Defense Systems.
Reduces a Defense System’s Coherence by 20 each turn for 3 turns. Use it against a Suppressor Defensive Subsystem or high-strength Defense Systems.
Contains either a Power-Up or a Defensive Subsystem – use them as a last resort
There is a few small tricks that can make your live easier as well, I won’t cover all the hacking mechanics, but only the ones that are the most important. If you want a complete list of know mechanics, there is DutchDefender on youtube that spent a lot of time figuring it out.
The rule of 6
Any node with 6 adjacent nodes can’t contain a Defensive Subsystem – use these places to get around easily.
- Caveat: If you get one anyway you are immediately next to the core
The rule of 8
Any node within 8 nodes from the starting point can’t be the Core – so you only need to search on the opposite corner and the two sides next to it on the board.
- Caveat: If the starting point is in the middle and no place satisfies this condition the Core can be anywhere
- This was originally found by DutchDefender he goes a lot deeper into the mechanics. I did simplify this a bit – it will hold true in most cases.
If you want to try two paths, then you should always go 2 nodes into one path before you start the 2nd path. This is so that in the case the first node on the 2nd path is a Defensive Subsystem you don’t lose the first path as well.
If you have reached a number 1 and there are 3 connected nodes where the next Power-Up / Data Cache or the Core could be, then you always want to click one of the side ones first. The reason is that if you don’t get lucky then you will receive another number (1 or 2) which will immediately tell you where the node you want is. If you would go for the middle one and don’t get lucky you will also get a 1 but this doesn’t give you any new information.
As you can see it takes a lot of stuff to explore well in eve, but it’s definitely worth it and you will only ever lose a ship worth less than 10m ISK. If you die while exploring, please remember to ask the attacker what you could have done better, most of the time they will give you some new information and maybe even pay you something towards your next explorer. I still remember this being my first source of income, I bought a Stratios with it and joined a corp where the fun started for me. Good luck out there, and if you have any questions or remarks please let me know.