I was in Jita selling off some exploration and PI loot and needed something to do for a couple of hours so I decided to put my new player hat on and go ninja salvaging. I thought it might be interesting to post my experiences.
Definition: Ninja Salvaging is the act of scanning down mission runners in highsec, entering their complexes, and salvaging their wrecks. It is perfectly legal and incurs no crimewatch action and no security loss.
Definition: Ninja Looting is the act of stealing loot from other players wrecks. It is sometimes down in conjunction with Ninja Salvaging. Doing so will give you a suspect flag and other players can freely attack you for 15 minutes.
I used an extremely basic fit to test it out:
Expanded Probe Launcher I
Salvager I x2
Limited 1MN Afterburner I
F-b10 Nominal Capacitor Regenerator
Small F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Surface Cargo Scanner I
Nanofiber Internal Structure I x2
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I x2
Salvaging Drone x4
A brand new player can get into this ship with less than 2 days of training. Getting the frigate, scanning and salvaging skills to III/IV might take another week or so. The cost is also low. The frigate is given to you in the tutorial and the fittings are less than 1M isk in total.
I have Astrometics V and Astrometic Rangefinding IV. With those skills and this ship my probe sensor strength was 93. I could scan down mobile tractor units to 100% using combat probes at 2 AU’s. Mobile depots were the same. (Lesson learned on this one: if you are using a mobile depot outside of highsec, by the time you see the combat probes on d-scan it is already too late). Battleships were nearly always 100% scannable with probe range set to 2AU’s (they varied a little bit depending on their sensor strength). A player with lower skills would still be able to scan these down, but would take longer and need to reduce probe distance all the way to 0.5 AU’s.
Back when I was a newish player, I used 2 ships to do this. I used a Heron to scan the mission runner down and then switched to a Vigil to do the salvaging. With the changes made in the last couple of expansions, you can now do this all in one ship. The Imicus gets bonuses to scanning and to salvaging (cycle time) and allows you to fit 2 salvagers and 4 salvage drones (roughly equal to 1 more salvager). You still need Salvaging IV to be able to successfully salvage battleships. Your speed is about 1km/s and you are cap stable. The cargo scanner is for if you want to see what is in a far off wreck or what loot is in the tractor unit. This ship won’t be able to kill a tractor unit. If you want to risk that, you should switch to another ship.
So how did it go? Frankly, not all that great. Part of the problem is that I was near Jita and it was a weekend. Several of the missions systems I entered were already saturated with combat scanner probes. I had a little better luck the further I went from Jita, but if I were doing this seriously, I would go somewhere else. Twice though, it lined up beautifully. I warped to the gate, entered the gate, and sped over to the mobile tractor unit. The wrecks were lined up like a buffet. In just a few minutes I salvaged about 25 wrecks of various sizes and earned about 4M isk in salvage. In the second instance I was just starting my feast when a Noctis showed up. I couldn’t compete and ended up with only about 1M isk in salvage.
In one area, there was no mobile tractor unit, but the mission runner immediately abandoned all his wrecks when he saw me. If I would have had a tractor unit, I would have cleaned up nicely. That was out of scope for my experiment though (a new player is unlikely to be able to buy one). The last one I scanned down had a Dominix and a mobile tractor unit, but he was salvaging his own wrecks as the unit pulled them in.
Total payout was about 10M isk for roughly 2 hours of flying and scanning. I don’t think that is very good (even for a new player), but I do think it is still viable. I learned valuable lessons about combat scanning and using d-scan doing this as a new player. It provided about 100m isk for me over the course of about 2 weeks and was enough for me to buy a Helios and a Drake so I could move on to running exploration sites.
If you are a low skill-point player and interested in doing this, here are my suggestions:
1) Use Eve Dotlan maps to find areas with lots of NPC kills. This indicates mission runner activity. He is an example in Kador.
2) If there are other combat probers in the system, move on. It usually isnt’ worth competing with them.
3) Marauders and drone battleships are likely to be salvaging as they go. Prioritize other ships like Ravens, Navy Raven/Scorpion, Nightmare/Machariel, etc. Don’t bother will battlecruisers. They are most likely doing level 3 missions.
4) Strategic Cruisers are a little harder to scan down, but they are more likely to be blitzing and not care about their wrecks. They are the most likely to let you loot as well as salvage. On the downside, they won’t be using a mobile tractor unit so you will have to fly more.
5) Sansha and Blood Raiders generally give the best salvage followed by Angels. Guristas and Serpentis salvage isn’t all that great.
6) When landing on the first gate, do a d-scan for 15,000km. That is generally the distance to the next room. If you see the mission runner, that means they are still fighting. You can warp in, but you will probably take some damage. In the fit above, nothing will 1-shot you, but you can’t hang out long. You can warp in and count how many ships are left to kill.
7) If all that is left is battleships you can just orbit something at full speed and they probably won’t be able to hit you. Anything else probably will.
8) If the mission runner is not in next room, bookmark the room and keep going through gates until you see them on d-scan. Most complexes are 4 rooms or less and the mission runner may be almost done with the mission. The gates will stay usable until they turn in the mission at their agent.
9) Ninja looting can add a lot to the take. Most battleships drops are worth about 1M isk. If the mission runner is using a mobile tractor unit, this probably won’t be an option for you. If they aren’t, then consider it. If you do it, anyone can shoot at you, but as long as you avoid stations and jump gates for 15 minutes you will probably be fine. Consider the opportunity cost of not salvaging for at least 15 minutes and decide if it is worth it.
10) If you definitely aren’t going to be looting, then set your safety to Green. This will keep you from doing anything stupid and give you peace of mind that you can’t accidentally make a mistake and get killed by another player.