Monday, September 15, 2014

Ten Things You Can Do With a One Month Alt

Way back in the 2013 release of Odyssey CCP introduced the ability to train two (and later three) characters on one account using PLEX. At the time, I thought it was a nice addition but the sheer significance of this change went over my head.

Then it short of clicked—this is an amazing change. Game-changing, in some ways (e.g., in the amount of alt accounts that have likely closed as a result of this change). Now you can train a month's worth of skills on a second or third character slot and then have that character as long as you have that account, with no added subscription fees--a pretty daring move by CCP if you think about it. What, though, can you do with a “one month alt,” in other words a second or third character on an account that has just one month of skill training? (Besides a mining alt, which I don't even bother featuring here.) It turns out, you can do a huge amount with these types of characters, not the least of which is make a bunch of isk as well as PVP in a variety of ways. So, here's my list of ten things you can do with a one month alt (and, obviously, since a one month alt is useful, a fortiori an alt with more than a month of training is even more useful—some of my alts started as one month alts and eventually branched into other uses featured here, for instance):

I) The Market Trader Alt
Use: A market trader alt is easily one of the best possible uses of a single month of skill training on another character. With a range of 125-225 orders (and an initial investment of isk for the market) you can very easily make well over 800m isk per month, paying for the character's PLEX in no time. This sort of character can set up a market like the one I describe in my tutorial for trading—in fact, my first use for the one month character training was to have a trader for my most distant hub, allowing up to update orders there simply by logging in. Of course, this character can also station trade in a system like Jita etc.
Skills: A character devoted to market trading needs only a small set of skills to function effectively. In a little over two weeks, you can have a character that has 125 market slots by training up to wholesale IV, and that includes accounting and broker relations to IV. For the rest of the month's training, you can just about squeeze in wholesale V and then tycoon to III to increase your orders up by roughly 100.

II) The PI Alt
Use: Very straightforwardly, one uses a PI alt simply to run a colony. One account nets three possible characters that can be running PI, which, in low sec or below, can easily make over 500m a month altogether (in null or wormholes, far more). A single character doing PI is still worthwhile as a source of stable extra income for many players.
Skills: Prior to the ability to train skills on a second or third character at the same time as the main character, players had to pause training on their main for one month or more. This prohibited many players from setting up things like an army of PI alts. A one month character can reach 6 colonies plus enough other PI skills to set up colonies as effectively as is needed. There should be a week or two extra left, so this character can also add other skills, such as for T1 industrial ships or market skills.

III) The Hauler Alt: Transport Ship Version
Use: Having an alt that can fly cloaky blockade runners is incredibly helpful. Before my second character could fly one, I had loot scattered around low sec in dozens of systems from PVP and exploration, but no safe way of retrieving it. With a blockade runner, I was able to collect it all, as well as transport small goods safely to wherever I was stationed in low (in a pinch, you can also use the blockade runner as a scout for another character). With the updates to deep space transports, this skill also gives you the ability to haul relatively large amounts with a decent tank, in the range of 6 packaged cruisers or 24 packaged frigates or one packaged battleship—perfect for a PVP supply etc.
Skills: The skill plans become a little tighter with the following characters, but the useful far increases. With a well-chosen remap and skill implants you can just about fit a race of transport ships into a one month training, but it is hard to fit in many other needed skills as well like cloaking, evasive maneuvering, and so on. This character is probably best suited as a “two month alt” but the usefulness is huge.

IV) The Hauler Alt: Orca Version
Use: An orca is a cost-effective and versatile solution to hauling needs. The decently sized fleet and cargo bays allow for a bunch of packaged ships and many more modules, and the decently sized ship maintenance bay is incredibly useful for transporting fitted ships. One of the first things I did with a second character was get into an orca so I could haul around Sven's stock of fitted frigates. Of course, an orca is also good for mining boosts, but it is an under-appreciated hauler.
Skills: It only takes around two weeks to get into an orca, leaving plenty of time for improving skills which help it fit more, align faster, and so on.

V) The Hauler Alt: Freighter Version
Use: Obviously, freighters are useful, though for almost all of my hauling I would rather use an orca, DST, or blockade runner. However, having an alt that is used simply as a freighter opens up many more possibilities in addition to being pretty convenient.
Skills: You can just barely get into a freighter with a month of training, but without much time for other skills many of which would be nice to have. Ideally, a second month of training is most effective, especially since the upfront investment of the freighter is so much isk anyway, but one month is still doable.

VI) The Exploration/Scanner Alt
Use: Exploration need not be skill intensive to be effective or enjoyable. In one month you can theoretically fly a covert ops frigate, but not effectively. Instead, specialize in a tech 1 exploration frigate with high skills for data and relic sites and you can do null sec relic and data sites with decent success. This null sec data and relic site runner needs only a month of skills to be efficient and make a ton of isk for newer players. If you've seen JonnyPew's recent videos, doing just these sites in null can net a decent amount of isk. This alt can also aid in scanning, which has lots of potential uses even on a player that has only a single account, scanning down signatures or potential targets and then logging back into the main character.
Skills: I would specialize in a tech 1 exploration frigate, getting the relevant skills for data and relic sites as well as basic scanning as high as possible. Adding in a few skills for agility, one month is just enough for a good exploration alt.

VII) The PVP Alt
Use: PVP alt in one month, you say? Absolutely, and chances are you can make an effective alt that can provide a huge amount of fun whenever you log in. My main tip would be to get an alt for Red Versus Blue, where it is easy to acquire ships since it is high sec near Jita, and where low skills are no barrier to having a lot of fun (e.g., open fleets are almost always up). The skills are almost irrelevant, since you can fly in tech 1 frigates with tech 1 or civilian modules in RVB if you so wanted. An added benefit is that in RVB if your fleet wins the field you can freely loot, and if you are flying tech 1 fitted ships you can easily make a profit or at least replace your losses, particularly useful for a newer player.
Skills: Skills are entirely up to you. Haven't ever flown laser ships? Make a one month Amarr frigate and destroyer alt. You can even get up to cruisers with tech 2 weapons, though without room for much else. Extremely tanky ships like maller are popular in RVB, and easily obtainable in a month.

VIII) The Gank Alt
Use: A character that can fly ships like an arty thrasher, high DPS catalyst, or arty can function as a devoted alt for ganking even with minimal skills. Arty thrashers are often used to suicide on pods, shuttles, or T1 frigates in high sec. Catalysts are obviously the ship of choice for ganking miners, and arty tornados are among the popular ships for ganking T1 haulers.
Skills: One month is more than enough time for any of the three most popular ganking ships (and enough for a combination of them depending on how many support and fitting skills you also want). In a month of training it is quite possible to be able to fly a catalyst with tech 2 blasters and an arty thrasher capable of popping pops, along with power grid skills to help with fittings. What ends up being more of a barrier to the one month gank alt is not the skill training, but security status. Recycling alts for the purpose of ganking is against the rules, so one your sec status drops “into the red” you will either have to use security tags to get it back up, or—what's common in groups like CODE.--plan ganks around the limited time you have to avoid high sec police (not CONCORD, who comes when you initiate a gank, but the regular police ships that eventually shoot those with low sec status and enemies of the respective faction). The latter involves warping from gate to gate looking for pods or other easy targets, or using an alt to plan the gank so the DPS character only needs a few seconds in space.

IX) The POS Bashing Alt
Use: Many players at some point have reason to engage in a POS (or customs office) bash, and sometimes in high sec or without the use of dreads. Either to avoid having to use a main character or as an alt on an alt account alongside one's main character, POS bashing characters only really need a month of training to add substantial DPS. A single 900 DPS ship will take roughly 5-6 hours to destroy a small tower in high sec (as I recently learned...) while having a second, hands-free character can effectively cut this time in half.
Skills: The most common route for the POS bashing character is to specialize solely in the Oracle with meta 4 mega pulse lasers, tech 2 heat sinks, DPS rigs, and enough cap rechargers to make it cap stable, bringing it to the range of 700-800 DPS and for a price of less than 100m—easily obtainable in one month of skill training. The only question is just how much DPS you can maximize out of one month out training alone, but anything above 600 will provide more (sustained) DPS than a bomber and knock substantial time off a POS bash.

X) Miscellaneous Storage, Scout and Slot Alt
Use: This alt does not have a single role but does a bunch of things I find well worth the single PLEX for some skills. I've started using an all purpose alt for scouting, storage, and industry slots lately. This alt will have a corporation, a small POS, and has science skills up high enough to do long-term research on blueprints. I also trained jump clone skills up as high as I could in one month, giving this character something like 7 jump clones. I spread them throughout areas in low/null where I sometimes need a scout (e.g., high sec to low sec jumps that are often camped).
Skills: Entirely based on needs—for me, I needed jump clone skills for scouting and science skills for blueprint research.

The list goes on, and I've probably missed a bunch of great one month alts, but those are the ten alts I have found the most useful and profitable. What's next for CCP? It might not be on their radar, but being able to buy extra character slots would help both their finances as well as the usefulness of PLEX for skill training. Maybe someday players will be able to buy a 4th or 5th character slot, with the ability to train skills on those 4th or 5th characters with PLEX. This likely wouldn't result in more alt accounts being closed, but would likely result in some added slots (say, for a few PLEX) and PLEX for skill training.