The ISK Keeper: Tales from a Newbie Trader

The ISK Keeper: Tales from a newbie trader

I want to first inform people that will most likely end up quite long in length. Let it be known that I seek neither praise nor admiration, nor compassion, nor acceptance into what appears to be a highly skilled and slightly elitist community. My objectives for this post, my mani-manifesto, if you will (points for naming the reference) are simple in nature: To offer up a bit of real information on the subject of trading in New Eden for players who have yet to enter the fray, but would someday like to; and to evoke the harsh, albeit erudite criticism of the eve market tycoons. Apart from the “buy low, high” mentality often repeated on the forums, both my successes and my failures have come to pass by my own, unguided experimentation. Are my experiences worthy of being shared amongst such longstanding members of the EvE Market community? You be the judge.

First and compulsory, a bit of background information. I have played EvE Online for close to 3 months, by my count. After several failed tutorial attempts, something within me “clicked,” and I finally came to understand both the profound depth and magnitude of possibility found within such a unique and memorable virtual world. My life is a pilot has been a roller coaster since.

Within two days of starting, I was recruited by a rather eccentric individual named Lee Anderson. He recruited me into his corp, promising me riches, power, and fame. If that isn’t why we all joined EvE in the first place, than I don’t know what is. Reluctantly, I accepted his invitation and become 2nd commanding officer of our two man corp. Within days (this is when I learned of his questionable integrity and downright annoying demeanor), we had both quadrupled our number of pilots, and become victim to a wardec by Lee’s former corporation. Fearing for our lives (though mainly his Drake), he led us new pilots across the galaxy to a system called Stacmon. He had arranged for his corporation to merge with an academy sponsored by the Alliance now corporation, Infestation.

Their goals were in league with most standard academies: Train the newbies in hordes and have first pick at la crème de la crème. It was here I made my first genuine friendships in EvE. We learned about flying in a fleet, can flipping, combating can flipping, and low-sec and nul-sec rules of engagement. It was more than any newbie could have ever asked for, and more than sufficient entertainment to get those pesky learning skills out of the way. Life was simple, and I was happy.

It was here (I’m sure you’re all wondering “when the hell is he going to talk about trading???” right about now) I first thought about getting into trading. Truth be told, the idea of making money from nothing had excited me since the beginning, and was one of the most intriguing aspects that EvE Online had to offer. With my paper and pen ready, my Google search ready to go, and my life savings of 1.6 million isk ready to be exploded into the economy, I figured I was good to go.

As you may have expected, that momentum came to a screeching halt almost as soon as it had begun. Stacmon was, except for the occasional skill book run in Aidart, was all I knew in life. How was I supposed to go about finding these great deals and suckering people into paying more than I did? Alas, my journey seemed to be finished before it had even begun. That is when Miner202 (Smudge) let me in on the best kept secret in the EvE market: EvE Central.

Perfect! A massive database showing every buy order and sell order in the galaxy. This is just what I needed! A detailed list showing what people are willing to sell, and for how much they are willing to buy. I quickly set out looking for deals and margins on which to put my newly purchased Badger Mark 2 to use. “Reactive Plating II” showed a sell order of 14 units at 150,000 p/u. A mere 26 jumps away, someone was looking to purchase 15 units for 200,000 ISK p/u. After running the numbers, I gasped in awe at the prospect of pocketing nearly a million ISK just for buying it and shipping it across the galaxy. Trading is too easy!

I warp, as fast as I can (sure that someone was going to spot this incredible offer and swipe it from under my feet), to the sell order system. Fortunately, I arrived in time, move to purchase all the units…only to realize I haven’t nearly enough ISK. No! I’m, at this point, drowning in papers of future trading plans that were to be my livelihood for the rest of my EvE career. Scrambling as fast as humanly possible, I start a private conversation a corp mate. I frantically tell him of my situation, admit that it is a lot of ISK and I would completely understand if he didn’t have that much liquid, and assure him of both my trustworthiness and the validity of my plan. Hell, I even through in a 10% interest incentive. I was, after all, looking to be a professional someday.

He “reluctantly” agrees (I’m sure he was laughing hysterically, considering he’s a billionaire) to my business plan, and loans me the money. I rush to the market screen, once again sure that said items would be gone. They were not. I purchased them, loaded them into my hauler (to rushed to realize that they took up hardly any space at all and I should have most definitely brought my kestrel), and proceeded like a madman to the target system. Victory was to be mine!

I unload my cargo with the most shit-eating grin on my face. Dreaming of what I’m going to spend my excessive profits on, click the sell button. “There are no buy orders for this item in this region.” Dismay, again, took me. My savings, my entire livelihood, had been invested in this venture, this first economic adventure of such a hopeful individual. What’s more, I owed more money to my corp mate than I could ever foresee myself making through “legitimate” means. Pleading to my corpmate about the situation, he agreed to purchase them for what I did myself. It was a very kind gesture, and also my first economic lesson: Do not rely on Eve Central being up-to-date.

Barely avoiding economic ruin, I thought to keep a low profile for a while. Tempting the gods was, after all, not the greatest of ideas. I did get involved in some very light missile trading, but commerce was slow and margins were slim. Between that and low-sec Bantam mining, I managed to amass an intimidating 6.0 million isk. On top of the world and finally confident in my EvE playing abilities, I decided that monsieur marché’ and I were going to have another go.

My glorious, albeit hazardous, low-sec mining ventures did successfully teach me one thing: Minerals are the nutz. I had become fascinated by the sheer competition found in the mineral trade. People would stop at nothing to acquire what they needed, or sell what they no longer wanted. I decided that the mineral market was to be my next business venture. After nodding at a few pages of numbers and pretending to myself they made sense, Megacyte and Zydrine seemed like an excellent commodity with which to get involved. They were extremely valuable p/u and took up hardly any space. EvE central showed masses of cheaply priced minerals in 0.0 space. Thus was my new business venture born: With my newly acquired and wisely fitted smuggling kestrel (1 warp stab, 1 ab, shield hardener, and two overdrives) which interestingly enough resembled the Millennium Falcon, I would proceed undetected into 0.0 sec space, “liberate” these stacks of minerals, and take them to Jita to sell at a massive, incomprehensible profit. My Dr. Evil laugh that day was, safe to say, absolutely earth shattering.

The market was, at this point in time, quite a bit weird. Buy orders for zydrine and megacyte were consistently higher than the highest sell orders, by very large margins. Never, though, did I stop to ask why, for there was money to be made. Actually, I did quite well in this venture, risking only a few jumps into 0.0 and investing only one half of my total capital at any one time. Both buy and sell orders seemed unlimited in supply and no one could lock and engage my Kestrel successfully before warping. The operation actually seemed flawless. So flawless that I decided to do a massive run and invest everything I owned. As they say, you have to spend money to make money. Or was that high risk high rewards? Not that it matters anymore, as I was so distracted by my monetary awesomeness that I barely noticed my ship abruptly come out of warp and stop amidst a massive blue bubble. It was arguably one of the more impressive graphical features I had seen in EvE.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to admire it, as several ships began targeting and starting their approach. No prob!, I thought, as I went for my warp button. I guess everyone learns one way or another what it means to get trapped in a warp bubble, and I just happened upon the hard way. My Caldari Kestrel issue Millennium Falcon was blasted to space dust, as was my surprisingly fragile pod. After reviving in Empire space, my anger quickly turned to relief, as I realized they had popped me on the to-buy trip, and not my return. Looking at my wallet and admiring how I had singlehandedly turned five or so million into twenty-five, I decided that the risks no longer outweighed the ISK to be made. It was at this juncture that operation “Mineral Liberation” came to a close.

No sooner than my return to Stacmon did I learn that epic political undertakings had taken place, and our precious academy was to be merged into a mega corporation, which, in turn, would be merged into a mega alliance. Our instructors insisted that we would not be forgotten, that our mission would go on, and that there truly was no better place to learn to play than 0.0. Ignorantly trusting them on their word alone, I packed up my surrounds, said adieu to my beloved Stacmon, and prepared to make the 60-odd jump journey to our new HQ.

I’ll skip over most of my stay there, as it isn’t much relevant to this post. However, my items were never delivered, our most trusted instructors abandoned us in favor of riches and fame in 0.0, and we (or at least I) found ourselves abandoned and without purpose. I spent two weeks merely looting other people’s rat wrecks, since there was nothing else I was even remotely skilled for. Deciding enough was enough, I came to the conclusion that I would need to plan my escape, and this group of power mongering wankers would not take kindly to my decision to leave.

Spending a massive 4.5 million on a badger mark 2 (I never received my badger and the economy is absurd out there), I loaded all my recovered rat and watched local to make my escape. Confident that no one would harass me in the dead of night, I boarded my industrial and proceeded to sneak away. Not even 10 jumps in, an interceptor successfully locked and popped me. I was, once again, revived back in Empire space. Every *single* item I had ever accumulated was either lost, stolen, or trapped in a corrupt space station. I had 15 million ISK to my name and absolutely nothing else.

This started the point in my EvE career I refer to as the “Dark Age”. I don’t really know what I did, or why I did it. I logged on to train skills or mine, mostly. I got into some light trading, usually for very small margins, and these transactions started to amass a bit of pocket change over time. My trading was very by the books, fly to Jita, buy an item, fly back and resell it for more. I got into Modal Mega Ion cannons a bit, though they didn’t have a very good turnover time. Caldari Navy antimatter charge S was a real money maker, and people were willing to buy it for up to 1000ISK p/u in some systems, a huge markup of my 500 p/u purchase price. Slowly but surely, in large part thanks to my new mining osprey, I started to amass a bit of wealth, eventually hitting the 100million ISK mark. Thus, I decided to give trading one last chance.

I had spent hours upon hours perusing the forums, wondering how on Earth anyone ever traded in Jita. After all, Jita was where the cheapest of the cheap were sold, thus how could anyone ever hope to make a decent margin there? Nah, competition in Jita was unattainable, incomprehensible, for the heavenly few with nigh trillions to their name. I would do what I always did, buy low and sell high.

I made a move from my quick bar to my item of choice, to notice some peculiar numbers. First, there were hardly any available in Jita (unfortunately, since the market is starting to come back down, the exact module will have to remain a secret). Second, prices had reached an all time low. I’m not sure what sparked it, but I felt this immense pressure to do something real in EvE, to throw down my shackles and rise up against the oppressor I had known to call the EvE Market.

I made a play, a (for me), absolutely huge economic play. I spent my life savings and bought up the entire market for 200,000k ISK p/u each. Ignoring the possible ramifications of my impulsive actions, I relisted 20% of my stack…at 4 times the price I had bought them for. Not knowing exactly how, I had become the *sole* supplier of this particular module in Jita, the economic New York of New Eden at four time the price they were “supposed” to go for. Kicking myself for my stupidity, I logged off in disappointment.

Nothing could have prepared me for the surprise that awaited me. I had sold half of the stack I had put up for sale. What’s more, it seemed that every tool in the galaxy decided to list their modules at *my* prices. Yes, my price had become the new standard by which everyone created their listings. Due to my advantageous position, I could undercut the competition exponentially. After all, anything above 200k was profit. I ended up selling every unit I had purchased, quadrupling my money in the process. Now *this* was trading at its.

After a few weeks, the market would stabilize, and I would quite simply repeat the process. No one seemed to catch on to the fact that the price would quadruple in price for no apparent reason. Every few weeks, I doubling and even tripling my ISK in a way I could never do through mining or missioning alone. This led me to my last and most recent economic experiment. Could I actually inflate the market of an item so much that another individual would buy en masse from me at, again, inflated prices, if my price managed to undercut the going Jita rate?
The answer was an astounding yes. The first item I tried this with was a module something along the lines of a 425mm prototype cannon or something like that. A fair amount of units were available, at the very affordable standard of 200k ISK p/u. Wanting to test my theory and having the money to do so, I purchased every unit I could in Jita, relisted 10% of my stock as five different sell orders at three times the price I paid for them. After waiting several days for the market to “stabilize,” I sent out an evemail on the bulk mailing channel informing people I had to liquidate this stack of guns asap, and I’d be willing to sell them as a bulk contract @ 300 ISK p/u (300k p/u below the Jita “standard”). Expecting my evemail to go unanswered, I prepared myself to just eat the expense as a business expenditure.

To my surprise, the next day I had not one but five responses, all expressing interest in my stack of guns. Again, these are guns I paid 200k each for, held onto for three days, and then resold immediately at a 50% markup. Between this ploy and my more genuine trading every two or so weeks, I am quickly approaching one billion ISK. I know full well that that is still a trivial sum to many, but considering I was lost in space with 0 assets to my name, and considering I had been utterly vanquished by the market several times before, I consider it a personal victory.

Why did I write this? Well first I’d like to apologize for the length; I reckon I got a bit carried away. Thank you and felicitations if you have successfully reached the end of my post. As for my reasons…first I have come across post after post after post by new players looking for advice on how to get into trading. The vast majority of them go unanswered, fall upon deaf ears, or are met with an armada of sarcasm and dismissal. For those new players looking for real experiences relating to trading and commerce from someone who was and still is in your shoes, I decided to write this for you. Second, I would like to appeal to the true economic legends of New Eden, the rich of the rich who run banks, IPOs, and other amazingly complex financial ventures. To you all, what do you think of my methods? Do you consider it unethical to drastically raise the price of a module, despite the fact that that sharp increase is going to affect hundreds of honest pilots out there? Is it nigh scamming to unload hundreds of thousands of units worth of modules to a few honest speculators who are completely ignorant of the imminent market crash? Like I said in the beginning, I’m not seeking praise or ridicule, only discussion and criticism. I hope this post, this novel, was beneficial to someone in someway, and at the very least, was an entertaining-enough read =P

-Lecherito

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~ by Lecherito on May 5, 2009.

4 Responses to “The ISK Keeper: Tales from a Newbie Trader”

  1. Cool reading.

  2. Yep thanks for an awesome blog mate!

  3. You are made of the rare and fine stuff of real life moguls are made off.
    Great strategy, you effectively mocking all macro-trading (specially in jita)

    😉
    0/

  4. Cool blog! Nice read bit long though but that doesnt matter! Thanks for sharing!

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