EVE Online: ISK Strategy Guide

By Y. Michael Xu
    Advance your knowledge in tech with a Packt subscription

  • Instant online access to over 7,500+ books and videos
  • Constantly updated with 100+ new titles each month
  • Breadth and depth in over 1,000+ technologies

About this book

New Eden, a universe of beauty, destruction and unlimited potential. Take on the role of a capsuleer and forge a story and empire that spans vast regions of space that is uniquely your own. But in order to forge your story and empire, it takes ISK and lots of it.

The ISK Making Guide to EVE Online teaches you the inner workings of each ISK making career choice. Learn the tricks of the pros and avoid the hidden pitfalls that await you at every turn. Learn from the experience of a seasoned EVE veteran.

Starting with the more easily accessible career choices and moving on to the careers only available to the experienced capsuleers, this book takes you step-by-step as your story unfolds. Help determine the path of EVE by taking on careers like Mining and Manufacturing, the backbone of New Eden or help your empire rise above the rest by Running Missions for the corporations of your empire. The ISK Making Guide to EVE Online gives you a jump start and walks you through every ISK making career choice.

Publication date:
October 2012


Chapter 1. I Want to Play EVE for Free!

Welcome to EVE Online: ISK Strategy Guide. This book will show you the different ways of making ISK in EVE, and also show you how veteran players make so much more ISK doing the same things that you do. EVE is an exciting and unique sci-fi MMORPG set in the New Eden universe, from CCP Games. In EVE, you take on the role of a capsuleer with the ability to pilot a fantastic array of ships, ranging from the smallest frigates to the mighty titans that have the ability to turn the tide of any conflict single-handedly.

As if piloting beautiful space ships was not enough, in EVE you are able to weave a story that is truly your own. What you do and how you do it is completely up to your own design. And on top of that, the fact that EVE is a single, shared universe, in which every capsuleer has the potential to interact with one another, makes for a unique experience to say the least.

With the massive scale and infinite gameplay options of EVE, it is quite easy to become intimidated. But like all other great journeys, we shall start ours from the beginning. This chapter will help you:

  • Understand the ISK

  • Learn how to play EVE for free!

  • Go through a character creation process


What is ISK?

Interstellar Kredit or ISK is the in-game currency and life blood of EVE. It is what you use to buy everything, from a piece of scrap metal to the largest of ships. Unlike most other MMOs, in which the majority of in-game items are purchased via NPCs, the economy of EVE is entirely player driven. When the economy of a game is dominated by NPC vendors, your access to gear or equipment can be very restrictive. Often the only way to get a better piece of gear faster is to grind the same task over and over again, thereby taking the fun out of it. The cost of gear is often much more expensive to offset for players with lots of time to spend in the game.

Every gameplay item in EVE can be produced by the players and then sold and bought by players using ISKs. Just as in real life, when there are two people selling the same item, one is going to sell it for less in the hopes of selling it faster. And when you have thousands of players selling the same item, it creates an economy that is very fluid and diverse in both offerings and prices. This allows you to control your access to better ships and equipment in EVE. The amount of ISK you have is the only limiting factor to what you can do in EVE. There is no limit to the amount of ISK you can make in EVE, if you read this book.

I'm the richest capsuleer in EVE; now what?

With the untold billions you have amassed, with the help of this book, the whole of New Eden is yours. You can choose to become a collector and own every item in EVE. You can establish an economic or military empire that spans vast regions of space. You can become the financier of a war between the capsuleers of EVE on a scale never seen before, or you can become a hermit and rent out a remote system in some corner of the universe and live out your remaining days in prosperity. The choice is yours and yours alone.

In most other MMOs, once you have amassed such wealth, it often means there is nothing left to do, because you have already done everything multiple times in order to get the best gear possible. And now that you have all the best gear, there is nothing left to do. But in EVE, just like in real life, when you gain this level of wealth, it only makes things more enjoyable and fun. You are able to take risks and do things that you would never have dared to before. When you have funds to replace any ship, any piece of equipment, there are no limits on what you can do or try.

How to play EVE for free!

EVE is such an awesome game, what could be better than playing EVE for years to come? How about playing EVE for free for years to come? With this book and a little help from CCP Games, you can do just that.

Just before the Christmas holiday of 2008, CCP Games announced the addition of the 30-Day Pilot License Extension or PLEX program for EVE. Each PLEX, as shown in the following screenshot, allows you to extend your EVE subscription by 30 days:

You are able to use real money to purchase a PLEX, which will be added to your in-game inventory. You would then choose to use that PLEX for yourself and extend your subscription, basically buying another month of game time, or selling it for ISK. So with your new found wealth, you can stock up on PLEXs and continue to enjoy EVE without paying for another subscription ever again. I will show you how to buy a PLEX in Chapter 6, Playing the Market.

As for the writing of this guide, the median pricing for one PLEX is just below 500 million ISK, meaning six billion ISK would allow you to play an entire year for free! While this might seem impossible if you are only making a couple million ISKs a day, with the help of this book, you can make hundreds of million ISKs a day. So, in a few days you can play for another month for free. What's even better is that in less than two months you can play EVE for the rest of the year for free.


Creating your persona

In most MMOs, the character creation process is one of, if not the most important decision you will make. In the past, this would have been true for EVE as well. However, in the current iteration of EVE, the character creation process is fun, detailed, beautiful to look at, and designed to allow you to truly create yourself, or the image of yourself in game, all without the fear and stress of creating the perfect character. All characters in EVE have the ability to undergo neural remapping, which gives you the ability to redistribute your attributes any way you like. We will look at neural remaps a little later in this chapter. So, rest assured you will be able to play any character that you create in any manner that you choose.

A word of caution however: all the choices you make are final. There is no going back after; in fact changing anything about your character is sort of like deleting the character and starting over. Given that EVE has a real-time skill training system, deleting your character any time after the first few months can be very costly. So please take things such as appearance, role-play possibilities, and anything else that may affect your enjoyment of your persona into account while creating your character.

Whether you are on a trial account and creating your first character, or on an existing account creating your second or third, let's create a character now to see what the process looks like and what things to be mindful of during the process.

Choosing one of the four

The first choice you will make is from which of the four major powers in New Eden your character comes from. These powers, the Amarr Empire, Caldari State, Gallente Federation, and Minmatar Republic, represent your racial choices within EVE. Each of these major powers has a unique story and a culture of its own. While this will have no impact on how much ISK you will make, it is going to be very important if you are interested in role-playing your character in any way.

As each of these empires evolved, they developed their own ideals in the design of their ships and weapon systems. It is important to take this into account as it determines the look of the ship, the type of defense your ship will utilize, and the kind of weapons you can use, at least in the beginning. With the ability to cross train into any and all types of ships and equipment, this will however have little to no impact on how much ISK you can make.

The Amarr Empire

The largest of the empires is the Amarr Empire. The Amarr are driven by their feverous religious beliefs and their strict feudal society structure. It is the belief of all Amarr that they are the rightful rulers of New Eden and they have conquered and enslaved many races of New Eden in a crusade, the Reclaiming. Only after a failed attempt to invade the reclusive Jovians, which led to a rebellion within the empire, did the aggressive conquering of the other races come to a halt. The main ethnic groups within the Amarr are the True Amarr, the Khanid, and the Ni-Kunni.

The Amarr prefer the use of energy weapons in their ship designs. This has the benefit of not needing ammo of any kind, but at the expense of massive energy needs. This heavy reliance on energy for their weapon systems have led the Amarr to develop ship designs relying on armor as the primary form of protection.

So if you want to fly ships in which armor is your primary defense, and that shoot lasers, then the Amarr would be a good choice for you.

The Caldari State

The Caldari State was born out of conflict and war. During the Caldari-Gallente War, the Caldari were forced from their home and exiled to settle in a new system, light years away. The Caldari are controlled by eight mega corporations, whose constant corporate conflicts have lead the Caldari to hold some of the most advanced technology in all of New Eden. Being constantly surrounded by conflict has led the Caldari to develop the strongest martial tradition in New Eden. No matter what the level of internal conflict, all Caldari stand united against any and all external threats. The Achura, the Civire, and the Deteis make up the main ethnic groups of the Caldari.

The advanced technology possessed by the Caldari has yielded ship designs with shield technology unrivalled in New Eden. The high cost of the energy needed to power a complex shield system has led the Caldari to rely upon missiles as their primary form of offence.

Pick the Caldari if you want to fly ships where shields are your primary defense and like the idea of firing salvo after salvo of missiles at your targets.

The Gallente Federation

The only empire to be founded upon the ideas of democracy is the Gallente Federation. It is an amazing story that the second largest empire in New Eden reached its size purely upon democratic principles. But while the Gallente may seem a beacon of hope and freedom in New Eden, it is not without its own dark times. The most notable of these dark times was the Caldari-Gallente War, which saw the displacement of the entire Caldari people. Known as a place for migrants and exiles, the Gallente, the Intaki, and the Jin-Mei form the primary ethnic makeup of the Gallente Federation.

The Gallente prefer the use of blasters on their ships. This gives the Gallente almost unrivalled strength in close range engagements. Preferring to fight at close range has also led to a heavy reliance on armor for defense. In an attempt to offset some of its limitations on medium and long range combat, the Gallente have incorporated the use of attack drones wherever possible.

If you like to fight up close and like to rely on armor to see you through a fight, then pick the Gallente. Also pick the Gallente if you like the idea of swarms of drones picking your targets apart.

The Minmatar Republic

The Minmatar is a group of free people who were living in a loose confederation of tribes, until they were enslaved by the Amarr during the Reclaiming. Never losing the desire to be free, the Minmatar fought back against the Amarr. Seizing upon a period of chaos after the defeat of the Amarr by the Jovians, the Minmatar rebelled against their masters. Unable to quell the rebellion due to the recent defeat by the Jovians, the Amarr were removed from Minmatar space and the Minmatar Republic was formed. The Brutor, the Sebiestor, and the Vherokior remain the major tribal groups within the Minmatar Republic.

Given the terrible conditions in which they lived while enslaved to the Amarr, the Minmatar have little in the way of technology or formalized ship designs. So the Minmatar built ships that used whatever technology or designs they could obtain from the other empires. As such you will see Minmatar ships utilize both shields and armor for defense and the older projectile weapons for offence.

The Minmatar will offer the most diverse choice in the types of ship to fly, so pick the Minmatar if you want to use projectile weapons and have a variety of defense choices.

To review:








Missiles and Railguns



Blasters and Drones




Armor and Shields

In the current iteration of EVE, the empire choice has no limitation on what you can do in game or how much ISK you can make, so pick the empire that you will enjoy the most.

Planning your character

The next step in the character creation process is picking one of the three main ethnic groups within each empire. For this guide we will pick the Caldari. As you can see in the next image, after selecting the Caldari State, we are presented with the choice of the Deteis, the Civire, or the Achura. The choice here is almost entirely for cosmetic and/or role-play purposes only. Your choice here will not have any far-reaching effect, one way or another, on your character.

After this selection comes the real fun part of the entire process. The actual character design portion of the creation process, as seen in the following screenshot, is the most detailed and beautiful of all MMOs. Take as much or as little time as you want in creating the ultimate image of your game persona.


Feel free to play with the character creation as much as you like. You can always go back or forward a step by clicking the Back and Next buttons in the lower-right corner. Stop when you come to the Finalize screen; you will know this because the Next button will be replaced by the Finalize button, as this will complete the creation process.

The portrait studio

Once finished, you'll be taken to the portrait studio , in which you can pose your character and give it expression. You can also pick the background and the lighting for your character's portrait, as shown in the following screenshot. Once you are happy with the look, take a few snapshots and pick your favorite as your portrait.

Choosing your ancestry and education

The last thing to do, as shown in the following screenshot, is to pick the ancestry and education of your character. As with the ethnic group choice, these choices are only important from a role-playing perspective. The education choice, however, does determine the starting NPC corporation that your new character will be in. All new characters in EVE start in a corporation run by NPCs. This allows immediate interaction of players with one another. We will look at joining a player-run corporation in Chapter 7, I Can Has Friends.

Finally, give your persona a name. Pick anything you want, as long as it is clean and not distasteful. Now that your identity is done, finalize your choices and step into the world of EVE.


The first days

Welcome to EVE. Look around and take it all in. It is incredibly beautiful, isn't it? When you are finally able to stop looking at everything around you, do the tutorial missions. The tutorial missions are the easiest and quickest way for you to get to know the very basics of EVE. Please, please take advantage and complete the tutorial missions. Those who came before did not have the benefit of such an extensive tutorial to welcome them to EVE.

Once you have completed the A New Life tutorial, do all the starter career tutorials. These will introduce you to most of the careers in EVE. The other great thing about doing all these tutorials is that afterwards you should be very close to having the funds needed to buy your next ship.

When all the tutorials are done, then explore, explore, and explore some more. EVE is more and more unforgiving the further you get into it. To do things becomes more expensive and any mistake can be extremely costly. So it is best to make mistakes at this stage rather than later. Don't worry about losing the first few ships; a free rookie ship will be supplied for you in that event.


The golden rule of EVE

Do not fly anything that you cannot afford to lose. If it took every ISK you have to buy and equip a ship, do not undock in it. EVE will always find a way for you to lose that ship, so you have been warned. Don't do it. Only fly it once you are able to immediately replace that ship and equipment when lost.

What skills to focus on

Like everything else in EVE , the amount of skills available is staggering. You can be constantly training and never completely train all the skills in EVE to their maximum level. Before you are able to fly that shiny new ship or equip a new piece of equipment onto your ship, you need to have the skill to use it. Skillbooks cost ISK to purchase and the skill takes time to train. Simple, right? You will soon learn that nothing is ever simple in EVE!

In your first days there are a few skill groups that you should focus on.

These groups, as shown in the previous screenshot, are as follows:

  • Electronics

  • Engineering

  • Mechanics

  • Navigation

  • Spaceship Command

These skills will ensure you're using your ships and equipment as efficiently as possible at this early stage of things.

But there are still so many skills in each of those groups, how do you know which ones to train first? Well, CCP has provided a handy tool to help you with that.

The certification planner

The certification planner, as shown in the following screenshot, is a recent addition to EVE. It can become your best friend as you navigate the maze of skills available in EVE. Think of the certificates as a grouping of necessary skills to achieve competence in a given area. For example, the Core Capacitor basic certificate represents a basic competence in managing the energy capacitor of a ship. There are four levels of certificates for each certificate group: basic, standard, improved, and elite.


Check all skill prerequisites manually

CCP, to the best of their abilities, have covered all the prerequisites for a skill in the certification planner. However, it is reasonable for them to have missed a few here and there. Therefore it is very helpful to get into the habit of checking the skill prerequisites of everything. You can check the prerequisites for everything in EVE by clicking on the blue i icon, and then selecting the prerequisites tab.

In your first days in EVE, it is best to get all the certificates in the Core group up to at least Standard level. This will ensure you are able to use most basic ship equipment without many complications.

Neural remapping

The speed at which you are able to train a skill is determined by your attributes. When you create a new character in EVE, it is given a balanced distribution of its five attributes: intelligence, perception, charisma, willpower, and memory. Most skills dealing with mining or production depend on intelligence and memory, while most combat-related skills depend on perception and willpower. Skills that involve the EVE market and interaction with NPCs fall on the charisma attribute. Keep in mind though, that intelligence, memory, perception, and willpower are considered primary attributes while charisma is more of a secondary attribute.

When your character is new, you are given two free neural remaps that you can use immediately. After the first two, you will be able to remap once a year. It is a good idea to remap your attribute points to maximize the two primary attributes for your chosen career. In this way you are minimizing the amount of time needed to train for skills required for that career. If you decide to change your career, then remap your attributes accordingly. Just keep in mind that after the initial two, you have to wait a full year before you can remap again. It may be best to read Chapter 2, When I Grow Up I Want to be a (Wealthy) Miner through to Chapter 6, Playing the Market first to get an idea of what you may want to do before your first neural remap.



This chapter explained what EVE Online is, what an ISK is, and gave a brief overview of the economy of EVE.

In this chapter you learned:

  • What an ISK is

  • How to play EVE for free

  • How to create an in-game persona

  • What to look for while creating your character

  • What to do in your first days in the game

In the following chapters you will learn about the different careers in EVE to make ISK in more detail. Each chapter will give you a better understanding of what is involved in each of these career choices. At the end of each chapter you will have the knowledge to decide whether that career is for you, and the knowledge to pursue that career well enough to start making ISK.

About the Author

  • Y. Michael Xu

    Y. Michael Xu has been a gamer for the better part of the last two decades, covering every game genre out there. Never satisfied with just playing the game, he attacks every game he plays, learning everything there is to know about the game and the game mechanics. When not playing games, Michael is often found talking about the state of games and the gaming industry with members of the KIA Clan gaming community.

    Browse publications by this author
Book Title
Unlock this book and the full library for FREE
Start free trial