Friday, June 27, 2014

Starting an Alt: Bringing a New Life Into This Cruel World

Over the course of one’s career in New Eden, it’s not unusual for a player to realize that one character simply isn’t enough.  Perhaps you want to awox someone.  Perhaps you simply want park a character in one location for some reason (cyno, trader, hauler, logistics, mission running, faction warfare, etc.).  Perhaps you just want to have another PvP or PvE character to help fund your game experience or cause mayhem.

It’s been about two years since I started a new character, the alt for my wife.  In that time, a lot has changed in New Eden.  It occurred to me that I couldn’t be a blogger dedicated to helping players learn about PvP and related topics if I didn’t discuss the strategy behind creating a new character.  In two days, I’ll have completed the final skill to perfect my wife’s character’s role, and that account won’t have any characters training anything.

So the “Starting an Alt” series of posts will chronicle my experiences creating a new PvP character from scratch.  Note the title; I’m starting an alt character dedicated to PvP, not a player’s first character, or an industry or trading alt.  Your main may come from any discipline within Eve, so I’ll try to write it with an eye to explaining my reasoning for each step of the process.

I also want to create this alt without drawing on the resources available to my other characters.  That means no isk transfers, no contracts, no sharing of ships or resources.  I want this process to be something people can easily replicate, and drawing on billions of isk reserves is cheating.

Step One: What Do You Want?

PvP alts come in a variety of styles, and before you even start with a new character, you need to have a firm eye as to what you want that character to do.  Here are just some of the options: 
  • Bomber: Used to surprise and kill soft targets. Emphasizes align speed, bomb launcher, standard missile, cloaking, and limited propulsion skills (MWD).
  • Hot Dropper: Emphasizes one race’s damage and spaceship command skills, cloaking, cynosural field, and both Recon Ships and Stealth Bomber skills.
  • Boosting Alt: Emphasizes either/both of Command Skills or a T3 (including subsystems), Leadership skills.
  • Mainline PvP: Self-sufficient PvP character for a variety of roles, focusing on DPS, spaceship command skills, and having a full complement of armor, shield, engineering, propulsion, targeting, and weapon (drone, gunnery, and/or missile) skills.
  • Logistics: focuses on fitting and support skills to master Logistics ships (typically train for T2, which allows you to also fly T1 perfectly).
  • Tackler/Interceptor Pilot: Focuses on speed and warp disruption, with relevant Spaceship Command skills maxed.

The list is endless, but you need to have a firm understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish before you train the first skills.  For myself, I’m going to focus on a Mainline PvP role.  It’s the least specialized and allows the most branching off in the future.

Step Two: Buy or Create?

If you go to the Eve Online forums, you’ll see a section called “Character Bazaar” where players sell their characters.  New characters tend to go cheaply, ones with 35 million sp are about 12 billion isk, and capital pilots generally garner more than 20 billion isk.  Once you hit 100 million sp, you’re looking at about 30 billion isk. 

Sometimes, you can even find a great deal.  I bought a 39-million-sp character for 8.5 bil and resold it a few months later for 15 bil. (Keep in mind, I had to pay 2 PLEX to transfer the character off my account, which is about 1.5 bil right now).  But those tend to be rarer than paying market rate.

The advantage to buying a character is getting a head start.  They’ll have a chunk of sp as thick as your wallet can permit.  But you have to be careful, because you’re inheriting someone else’s project. 

Each character for sale utilizes Eve Board to post all of the character’s current skills, implants, standings, and corp history.  Review this information carefully.  Don’t focus as much on the number of skills, but on the amount of sp tied up on each of those skills.  Having 1 skill trained to Level 5 is more valuable than having 5 comparable skills trained to Level 4.  I tend to look exclusively at the skills trained to 5.  When you review the skill sheet, you’re looking for the percentage of skill points that are relevant to the role you’ve identified for your alt.  Does the character have Frigate, Destroyer, Cruiser, and Battlecruiser all trained to 5 for all races?  That sounds like a great benefit, but it isn’t if you intend the character as a bomber exclusively.  You’re paying for all those extra sp that don’t support the role.  And you’ll continue paying; every time your character gets podded, you will have to pay insurance based on your total sp, not the sp in the categories you actually use.  At higher levels, this becomes very expensive.

Also, check the Eve forums for your character’s name.  You’re looking for scams and controversy related to that character.  It doesn’t do to buy a character for WH life who has a history of awoxing and scamming.

Finally, check Eve-Kill or z-killboard to get a sense of your character’s kill history.  Would you really want to buy a character that has 1 bil in kills and 400 bil in losses?  That’s a big hole to dig out of.  You can also get a sense of where the character’s been and what reputation you’ll have to deal with.  Buying a character that has been in the CFC for years will make it hard to get into N3 once you purchase it.  It’s not insurmountable, but it’ll require a conversation and a link to the sales thread.

For my purposes, though, I’m going to assume you’ve decided to bravely start a fresh character.

Step Three: Character Generation

Ah, character generation.  Good luck making it work on a low-end machine, but on a machine that can support the graphic demands, it’s quite a wonderful process.  Don’t fret about which race you choose… the sp you start with is the same, and any advantages of having a couple level 1 skills pre-injected is insignificant.  Your race will affect your character’s appearance, though.

I’ll leave you to explore the character creation options yourself, but with one note.  You can typically change the color of your features in the future, along with any piercings and tattoos, but you’re generally stuck with the structure of your face and body.  (So if you start a female character with massive knockers, you’re going to have them for the life of your character).  Likewise, backgrounds and poses can be changed at will.  Just be careful with facial and body structure.

Step Four: Name

Perhaps the most important part of character creation is your name.  It’ll be with you throughout the life of the character, so take care, especially if you envision selling the character in the future.  Names that sound like actual names are good options, as a badass PvP names (Eternal Terror, Forlorn Hope, Bringer of Death).  A lot of players who buy characters are looking for a good name, so something like “roger422” or “xxchillyyz” will reduce the value you can get for it.

On the other hand, a PvP pilot named, “Our Own Logi” may be good for an extra 2 billion or so (imagine an enemy FC calling out, “Fleet, primary Our Own Logi” and the hilarity that would ensure.).  Use your judgment on whether you intend to keep the character or could ever conceive of selling it.

Step Five: Your First Five Minutes

From the moment your character enters the universe, the clock starts ticking.  You have a few important tasks in these first few minutes, not the least of which is to get a skill training.  Without any isk to speak of, your best bet is probably to start training one of the support skills that come pre-injected in your head.  I’d recommend Mechanics, CPU Management, Power Grid Management, or Navigation, as having any of them trained to 4 is a good investment.

The next thing you want to do is make your way to a trade hub as fast as possible.  It’s worth going to Jita if at all possible, but any of the others are acceptable.  Why are you traveling to a trade hub?  Because you’ll need isk and skill books.  How do you get them?  PLEX.

Without drawing on the resources of any other characters, the fastest way to get the isk you need to maximize your skill training is with PLEX.  You can buy them through the Account Management page and redeem them once you reach the trade hub.  They’ll appear in your hangar, and you can immediately sell one of them (don’t quibble over a few million isk at this point) to net yourself about 700 million.  Use the other to PLEX your account if you choose.

Why am I advocating buying PLEX at such an early stage?  Because you’re going to want to buy the Cybernetics skill book, inject it, and switch you training to Cybernetics immediately.  Training the Cybernetics skill to 1 allows you to use +3 implants, and training it to 4 lets you use +4 implants.  Train it to 4.  Once you complete Rank 1, buy a Cybernetic Subprocessor – Basic and a Memory Augmentation – Basic and inject them.  They cost about 20 mil total, but it’s well worth it.  These will enhance the training speed of your Cybernetics skill until you get to Level 4. 

Once you do, rip them out and inject a set of Standard implants: Memory Augmentation, Cybernetic Subprocessor, Ocular Filter, and Neural Boost.  You may note that I excluded the Social Adaptation Chip implant.  Since we’re doing a PvP character, it’s worthless; no PvP skills involve the Charisma attribute, so you’re just throwing your money away.  If you want to train trade, social, or corporation skills in the future, you can inject it then.  For now, save your money.

One Cybernetics 4 is trained, you’re ready to begin your skill queue in earnest.  A base skill queue will be the topic of my next post.


  1. Hey Talvorian Dex,

    great blog and great project. Which implants would you recommand on a new or low sp character which does activ pvp in null sec? The threat of being killed is high.


    1. This is a great question, and I'll probably do a blog post about it in the future, since there are so many permutations.

      Implants are tricky, particularly in null-sec. A lot of it depends on your budget, your flying style, and how likely it is that you'll face an interdictor.

      Since I assumed a PLEX's worth of isk, I'll assume you have about 600 mil worth of isk to play with. If you're flying in a large fleet, I wouldn't plug anything in except the two implants that correspond to your active training skill (the primary and secondary attributes). Large fleet vs. large fleet means you'll be alpha'd if you're primaried, and whether you live or die is entirely beyond your control.

      If you're doing small gang or solo, I'd go one of two routes. Either go entirely with halos or snakes (reduced sig radius and increased speed respectively); don't mix. The way implants work, having a full set of the same type - even low-grade ones - has a multiplicative effect that is lost when you mix.

      The other route is to plug in individual implants to improve other effects. In this route, I'd go with damage. IF you're fighting small numbers, your goal should be to kill them quickly before help arrives. In most cases, having a large tank but low DPS just means you die slowly, whereas having a high DPS and low tank means you'll kill them quickly. Implants that improve your DPS are the way to go. I wouldn't go higher than X03, though. Other wise, you're risking too much isk given the high likelihood of dying. If your budget is unlimited, though, go for the X05 implants. Just strip them out of your head if you're podded and trapped in a bubble, else they'll show up on your pod's kill report.

    2. Thank you for your reply. A whole blog post would be great. im waiting for that :)