“Ratting” in EVE is the process of killing NPC pirates to collect ISK. There are multiple ways to rat, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Belt ratting is when you warp between the asteroid belts of a system killing the rats that spawn to collect bounties. In general, the lower the security status of the system is, the higher quality the rats will be. This means they will be more difficult to kill, but also have higher bounties, increasing ISK/hour if you can handle them. Three types of special spawns are possible when belt ratting.
Hauler spawns are comprised of an escort and a hauler, which will contain minerals in its wreck, most commonly just over 3 million units of Tritanium. Faction spawns, such as Dread Gurista rats, can drop expensive faction modules, and they have increased bounties. Officer spawns are the rarest special spawns, and their loot can be worth billions of ISK, the best quality items in EVE. A faction spawn usually occurs once every 20-50 spawns cleared, and an officer spawn is even rarer, occuring once for every 20-40 faction spawns, or once every 400-2000 cleared spawns.
Anomaly ratting consists of using your system scanner to find anomalies in space which are similar to 1-pocket missions. Anomalies do not have acceleration gates. They are wave after wave of rats, providing many opportunities for making ISK. To find an anomaly, open your scanner and open the System Scanner tab. Select your On-Board Scanner and hit scan.
After 10 seconds, you should see a list of all available anomalies in the system. A list of the difficulty levels of various anomalies can be found here. Each anomaly is different in structure, but the basics remain: warp in and shoot everything. Like belt ratting, bounties are the main source of income from anomalies.
Anomalies can also contain faction spawns, like belts. However, anomalies cannot spawn officers. Instead, they have a chance to produce an escalation. An escalation will make a bookmark in your journal for a DED complex in another system (see below).
Complexes are similar to full missions. They have waves and acceleration gates. However, complexes give rewards in the form of ISK from bounties, as well as loot at the end of the complex. Complexes can either be scanned down with probes or acquired as escalations from anomalies (see above). Complexes from escalations are more difficult than the anomaly that escalated to them. They can offer loot such as faction type modules (eg. Pith A-Type Large Shield Booster) and Overseer’s Effects, which can be sold to NPC buy orders for ISK. They can also be disappointing, offering only Overseer’s Effects, which will amount to about the same ISK/hour as regular anomalies with a little more work, or very lucrative, with billions of ISK worth of loot as a reward.
The general rule with ratting is that the lower the security level of the space you’re ratting in is, the better the spawns will be. This means tougher spawns with higher bounties in the case of belt ratting, or greater/more difficult anomalies/complexes spawning. This also rings true for the true security of a null security system (eg. a -1.0 will offer the best ratting, while a -0.3 system will offer worse ratting). In most cases, ratting/exploration in high security space won’t be worth it. Your wallet would be better off if you spent your time running missions or some other activity. Ratting gets better in low security space, but it really shines in null security space.
To properly rat in low or null security space, you need to fit the right ship for the space you’re ratting in. The factors you should take into consideration are how safe you are in that space and the type of rat you’ll be fighting. The first step in choosing and fitting a ratting ship is to figure out what kind of rat you’ll be fighting and choose accordingly. A simple list of the type of damage your ship should deal and tank based on the faction of rat you’ll be fighting is:
In general, the type of damage you want to deal to a rat is the same type of damage the rat will be dealing to you. Different ships will do better against different factions, so choose with care. For example, the Ishtar is a popular ship to rat Guristas with because of its naturally high base Kinetic/Thermal resists and the fact that its drones can do lots of Kinetic/Thermal damage.
Once you’ve figured out the type of damage you’ll want to tank, you need to choose a ship based on how safe the space you’re ratting in is. A faction battleship with a pricey fit might be a good idea if you’re ratting in friendly space, but for “ninja ratting” in hostile territory, you’ll want something smaller and faster. Another reason the Ishtar is a popular choice is because it’s small and fast, like a cruiser, and using a high slot for a cloak won’t hurt your DPS since it’s a drone boat. Other popular choices include T3 cruisers for their ability to fit cloaks and interdiction nullifiers to escape gate camps. If you plan on running complexes, remember to fit a probe launcher (preferably a Sister’s probe launcher with Sister’s probes to minimize scan time).
The same basic null security rules apply regardless of the space you’re ratting in. Keep an eye on local/intel channels and watch for neutral/red players. If you have docking access to a station/citadel dock up when you see one of them in local. Otherwise, head to a safe spot and turn on your cloak if you have one (which you should if ratting in space without safe stations) and wait them out. Hopefully they’ll leave soon and not try to scan you down and blob you.
For those of us lucky enough to have access to space from a big alliance, ratting is pretty easy since intel channels tend to have the area locked down. Otherwise, your best bet will be to head to NPC null security space and rat there. To choose a good section of space, open your map by hitting F10, scroll to the Statistics folder and click Ships destroyed in the last 24 hours.
Look for a few systems that are quiet and don’t seem to have many kills in them. Also try to be quick and mobile, which will reduce your chances of getting blobbed and destroyed. Ratting for hours in an expensive Tengu will only make you good ISK if you don’t end up losing the Tengu two hours later.
As long as you fit the ship for the right purpose (cloak if in hostile space, probe launcher if scanning for complexes) and for the right rats (make sure your damage and tank are the right types) and you keep your eye on local, you should be fine.
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.