EVE Online ISK: Station Trading, Part I

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Station Trading 101: Your Guide to Playing the Market

You asked for it, so here it is: my guide to playing the market so you can be swimming in EVE Online ISK.  I’ll be covering the basics of station trading in EVE.  This guide is written from my perspective, working my way up from an initial investment of 500 million ISK to about 2 billion in ISK + assets in about 2 weeks.

1. Preface

This guide is written from my personal experience trading.  The techniques used here may or may not work for you.  That being said, I believe that once you get a decent amount of ISK to start with (hundreds of millions), the best way to further your wealth is to do station trading with the ISK.  Unless you find joy in spreadsheets and numbers and never undocking, I recommend the creation of an alt to use for station trading only.  I have an alt that I use for trading that does nothing but modify orders.  No ships, no undocking, just numbers.  Before beginning, here is what I recommend you have:

  • An alt that you don’t mind not flying with again on an account that can spare a few days of skill training time.
  • Investment capital.  I suggest starting with at least 500m but as low as 100m will still generate profit that is not insignificant. If you’re running low, consider investing in a few PLEX to kickstart your wallet.

2. Skills

As a trader in EVE, you’ll need a few skills to make a profit and make sure that this profit is as large as it can be.  There are plenty of of skills in the “Trade” category, but many of these are not needed for basic station trading.  Many of these skills are not strictly necessary for trading; it’s very simple to flip items and make a profit.  However, to maximize your profit margins and ensure that you can always keep up with your orders, it is a good idea to train these skills to respectable levels. For now, there’s not much reason in bothering with the skills that modify the range at which you can modify buy and sell orders as you’ll likely have an alt that will remain in one station trading permanently.  There are three groups of skills we need to train.

Taxes

The first is to decrease the amount of ISK that is taken from our market orders through market related costs.  The skills Accounting and Broker Relations are used to decrease this margin.  These are good skills to train because they reduce the amount of ISK that is taken out of your pocket by game mechanics with every transaction.

Margin Trading

The second group is a single skill: Margin Trading.  This skill reduces the amount of ISK you have to put down when you make a buy order.  Without the skill, if you make a buy order for 1,000 units of Tritanium at 1.00 ISK each, you have to put down the entire 1,000 ISK required upon making the order.  However, with Margin Trading I, you only have to put down 750 ISK to make the order.  The other 250 ISK is subtracted from your wallet upon completion of the order.  This way, you can have many more active buy orders than you have ISK.

For example, I currently have 869 million ISK in active buy orders.  Because I have Margin Trading IV, I only had to put down 163 million ISK.  I have 464 million ISK remaining in my wallet.  This means that if all of my buy orders filled simultaneously, I would not be able to pay for them all.  Although this might seem like a bad idea, in reality buy orders usually fill very slowly, and the ISK you make through sell orders comes through at a rate fast enough to replenish your wallet before it is drained by buy orders.  This makes this skill very handy to have.

Active Orders

The third group of skills is the group that modifies the amount of active buy and sell orders you can have.  The amount of orders allowed by these skills grows with each progressive skill, starting with 4 orders per skill level of Trade and increasing to 32 orders per skill level of Tycoon.  Earlier on (high millions/low billions) you will likely not need to train above Wholesale, if at all.  Later on, if you choose to increase the volume of orders you manage, you may wish to train further.  Keep in mind that although more active orders = larger income, it also increases the time you need to go through all of your orders and make sure they remain on top.

Skills:

  • Trade
    • Knowledge of the market and skill at manipulating it. Active buy/sell order limit increased by 4 per level of skill.
  • Accounting
    • Proficiency at squaring away the odds and ends of business transactions, keeping the check books tight.  Each level of skill reduces transaction tax by 10%.  Requires: Trade IV
  • Broker Relations
    • Proficiency at driving down market-related costs.  Each level of skill grants a 5% reduction in the costs associated with setting up a market order, which usually come to 1% of the order’s total value. This can be further influenced by the player’s standing towards the owner of the station where the order is entered.  Requires: Trade II
  • Retail
    • Ability to organize and manage market operations.  Each level raises the limit of active orders by 8.  Requires: Trade II
  • Wholesale
    • Ability to organize and manage large-scale market operations.  Each level raises the limit of active orders by 16.Ability to organize and manage large-scale market operations.  Each level raises the limit of active orders by 16.  Requires: Retail VMarketing II
  • Tycoon
    • Ability to organize and manage ultra large-scale market operations.  Each level raises the limit of active orders by 32. Requires: Wholesale V

3. Home Base

Once you’ve started skill training and feel that you’ve trained enough to begin trading, you’ll need to choose a home base.  Your home base depends on the amount of time you’ll be able to dedicate to trading.  Someone who updates their orders every 15 minutes will find that they will make much more money in Jita than in Rens, while someone who updates their orders once or twice a day generally won’t make as much ISK in Jita as they could in another trade hub where their orders will not be undercut as often.  The top three trade hubs in order from largest to smallest are Jita, Amarr, and Rens.  Here is a link to a table of EVE’s 30 top trade hubs.  If you find the hub you’re trading in to be too competitive, it might be a good idea to find another one farther down on that list and switch to that hub.

My experience trading in Jita 4-4 has been a positive one.  It is frustrating to see people undercut my order by a large amount, but in general I have enjoyed the fast paced market and the quick EVE Online ISK generation.  After settling on a home station, get your character there and dock up.  Enjoy the sights as your ship is towed into the station, you won’t be seeing them on that particular character any time soon.

See Part II of the guide here.

JCMD has been playing EVE Online since 2008. Through years of trial and error, he has tested strategies for making EVE Online ISK to bring you only the most effective techniques to making ISK with as little effort as possible.

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