Apologies for the lack of updates recently. I’ve had some stuff to deal with in meatspace that’s unlikely to subside just yet, but we’ll see.
I want to state first, that I am aware that this will not apply to miners for the most part – generic asteroid belts in low-sec are completely bonkered: Much more risk, and less reward than sitting in a comfy 0.8. The balance is totally out of whack with that one, so I’m saying right now that I won’t try to apply this to miners.
Go live in low-sec for more varied gameplay. At first it may not be obvious. Its a well-known fact that the agents in low-sec dish out better rewards and isk, but what else is there to do? Well, for a start, the exploration sites are much richer, and if wormholes float your boat, there’s a much higher chance of you getting a decent class 3 than if you were grinding away in Dodixie or wherever.
Also, there’s better static complexes. You don’t need anything amazing to run a 2-3/10. I lived in a nice little 0.2 system for about 18 months, and there were 2 static complexes within two jumps that respawned roughly every 1h 40m. Just casually running these in an assault frig or interdictor netted me about 100-200m a week for virtually zero effort – and you could make a whole load more if you were dedicated. Yes, there were other people wanting to do the same. Yes, you had to be quick off the mark after DT to establish respawn times. Yes, you could (and will) get shot at: so shoot back!
“But there pirates, and probers, and loot thieves – oh my!” This is a complaint I hear a lot. For the most part, pirates can be avoided in day-to-day life. Unless they get bored, 90% of them will be camping chokepoints into/out of low-sec, which is why Amamake, Bosena, Hagilur, and whatever non-Minmatar equivalents have such a bad name for it. In some cases its unavoidable. Taking Amamake as an example: its loaded with agents. The pirates know this as well as any learned mission runner, which is why its garnered the nickname of ‘Amagankme’. As a rule, I advise against such ‘honeypot’ systems, since you are near-guaranteed to get jumped on by ne’er-do-wells at various points when you are totally unprepared for it.
So, what else was there? Ah yes, loot thieves. You have them in high-sec as well, they just nick your salvage rather than your loot. That’s (probably) about 50% of the loot value for the entire mission anyway. If someone does that in low-sec, shoot the bastards. Simple.
That leaves us with probers, which are a bit like loot thieves with teeth – they don’t want your loot or wrecks, they want your shiny faction or t2 mods once they’ve blown you up and (optionally) made you cry. Rarely they will ransom you like run-of-the-mill pirates, and frequently they have prober-alts who are very good at finding you for their mains to kill. Directional scanner is your friend, for obvious reasons.
So the risk is high sometimes, and you will at somepoint lose your ship. You aren’t flying anything you can’t afford to replace anyway though… Right? Its good practice to assume (at least a nagging feeling in the back of your mind) that you’ll lose your ship on each mission – it cushions the blow if you do, and reassures you if you don’t. If you can afford to lose your boat in high-sec, you can afford to lose it in low-sec as well. The difference is you might lose it in an actual fight rather than to some really poor AI. I know I’d rather be beaten by someone who thinks and analyses rather than targets and sets to orbit. Its embarrassing.
Preparation is half the battle. Scope out the local inhabitants. If there’s good agents in the system, check out who runs missions based on their standings, then ask them if there’s an alternate-local channel where friendlies can chat. It might not seem like much, but if you can coordinate a group of mission runners who actually pay attention to local and their scanners, you can sometimes catch the probers at their own game – setting traps and scanning them down as well. If there isn’t such a channel, make one yourself, and slowly bring people in that you know are there to make isk (without killing other peeps) like you.
Once you have this channel, you can use it for passing intel, as well as forming up impromptu fleets when running missions if you’re unsure. This allows you all to warp to member (A) should they suddenly start screaming that there’s a prober on their tail – which of course they’ll have an incling off because they’re using the directional scanner.
Intel is so important in this situation. In low-sec you can suddenly find yourself with many hostiles in local very quickly. This is usually a cyno hot-dropping a fleet for some purpose. Make sure everyone in your channel broadcasts something like “friendly cyno” when they are bringing one or more things in so the rest of the inhabitants don’t get spooked.
Take a PVP ship. This one throws people sometimes. You need something PVPable in the area, so when the time comes you’re ready to hop ship into something that you know will do a whole lot better than that shiny mission ship. If you explore as well, chances are you can very easily re-purpose that covert ops frig you use to probe out pirates. I’d advise having a support ship, and a damage dealer. What sort of support is up to you, and may well be worth discussing with your local group.
For the more seasoned players – and this is not really something I advise, I just find it fun to do – Park a carrier in another station in the system: Ideally one with no agents. Its unlikely to be ‘tube-tanked’ by any pirates because they see no logical reason for their carebear prey to be going there. In addition, make a jump clone there if possible. This is fantastic sneaky-ops, because when they think they have you pinned in station, you can hop to the other station, jump in something big and scare the bejesus out of them. They’ve already checked if you’re in station, and they haven’t seen you leave local, so they know you haven’t logged. Lots of fun!
There’s plenty more tips and hints I’m sure. Leave a comment if you can think of any, and if you want more specific advice, see this guide by my friend Mori; From Carebear to Werebear.