So, you wanna make some iskies trying out the new Exploration Mechanic from CCP? Well, good on you mate.. let me see what I can do to help you out. First off, while what we will go over does have some relevance to combat scanning, we are solely going to look at scanning for NPC sites, and not for PVP engagements.
Ships For the Explorer In All of Us
First off, let’s look at the basic ships that are best able to do exploration:
For new pilots, you have some racial options available to you:
- For the Minmatar, you have the Probe
- For the Amarr, you have the Magnate
- For the Gallente, you have the Imicus
- For the Caldari, you have the Heron
Each of these ships have two very influential bonuses:
- 7.5% increase in Probe strength per level
- Role bonus of +5 Virus Strength to Relic and Code Analyzers
As you improve you ship skills, you can upgrade to the Tech 2 version of these ships, commonly referred to as Cov Op Ships:
- The Minmatar Cheetah
- The Amarr Anathema
- The Gallente Helios
- The Caldari Buzzard
These ships are significant upgrades to the Tech 1 predecessors, and sport the following bonuses:
- 10% increase in Probe Strength Per Level
- Role Bonus of +10 Virus Strength to Relic and Code Analyzers
- 10% Reduction in Probe Flight Time per Level
- More Mid-slots
- Ability to fit a Covert Ops Cloak
As you can see, training up to a Tech 2 Covert Ops vastly improves your ability to be successful at exploration. It is particularly important to have midslots available because at least three of them will be used for Relic/Code Sites.
There are two other ships that also are available for exploration purposes. The first one is a Jovian designed Battlecruiser called the Gnosis:
The Gnosis was developed so that any pilot from any race could outfit it with the weapon systems of their choice as well as a tank of their choice. The big thing for explorers however is the inherit 37.5% bonus to Probe Strength. This means it has the same strength as a fully trained Tech 1 Exploration Frigate. The ability to use powerful weaponry and maintain a decent tank means that many Combat sites will now be open to you without have to switch out a ship.
Two other ships you might see out probing are the Zephyr Shuttle:
It can probe out locations in wormholes without disturbing the Sleepers
and the Echelon frigate:
which has no additional bonuses to exploration or probing, but has a code analyzer.
Likely the first ship you are going to run will be a racial tech 1 frigate. Most of the tech 1 exploration frigates can handle the “High Five” of exploration modules. However, there is some bad news for Amarr pilots. The Magnate has only three midslots. This is a problem because ideally you need four, one for a Relic Analyzer, one for a Data Analyzer, one for a Cargo Scanner, and one for a Propulsion module.
While it’s not a big deal to have a prop mod when starting out, down the road having four midslots will be crucial for your efficiency. So, if you decide that exploring is a good place to earn isk, just be prepared to focus on getting your Tech 2 Cov Ops ship, which will require some additional skills to make it ideal.
Some of the other ships mentioned here like the Gnosis, the Echelon, and the Zephyr are not available cheaply as there are a finite number of them on the server, so you shouldn’t expect to be using them without having some experience behind you. In particular the Echelon and Zephyr are very specific use.. and not likely to give you the necessary utility options for good exploration runs.
In Chapter 2 of this series, we talk about the Modules you should be prepared to fit, and why.