Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday definition: Cyno alt

And now, an EVE term definition for the newer EVE players.  You vets can move on to the next post.

There are two definitions of the phrase "alt" in EVE:
  • any character that is not your main pilot, the one which you spend most of your time playing EVE with; and,
  • any character on any of your accounts that is not actively being trained in a skill.
The latter definition is the more correct one.  Any pilot that you are actively training, whether you realize it or not, is one of your "mains".  Any character that you are not actively training is one of your alts.  Each EVE account can have up to three characters associated with it, only one of which can be trained at any given moment.  It is the emphasized phrase that is the important one.

As you advance in your EVE career, you'll find that you'll need lower skill point characters.  For instance, low SP "scout alts" can be useful right from the beginning of your EVE career if your high-sec corp is war-dec'ed.  A neutral alt in a shuttle with very few SP can then be used to scout a much more expensive ship through high-sec jumps.  Setting negative contacts with this alt with the corp that has war-dec'ed your high-sec corp will allow the alt to determine if hostiles are camping a gate before your expensive ship comes through.  Later, if you move to low- or null-sec space, the same alt can determine if the path that you're moving through is safe.

And if the scout alt is killed, then you have little reason to care: after all, it had very few SP and was in a shuttle.  Even if the alt is podded, most alts can get along with the free 900k SP medical clone.

Still, as your scouting needs become more advanced, you might decide that you want your scout alt to be able to fit a MicroWarpdrive, or a Warp Core Stabilizer, or other mods so that the alt can avoid gate camps.  At that point, it's useful to pause skill training on the main on this account to give the alt a few tens of thousands of SP to be able to fit and use these mods.

As you gain access to capital ships, this alt will need another skill: the ability to light Cynosural fields for the cap ships to jump to.  Cynosural Field Theory is an Electronics skill requiring Electronics V as a prerequisite.  An alt that is capable of lighting cyno fields is called a "cyno alt".  Training Cynosural Field Theory to Level III is usually sufficient for a cyno alt.  The preferred ships to light cyno fields are frigates with a good cargo capacity: the Caldari Kestrel and Minmatar Probe are particularly good cyno ships.  At Level III skill, the cyno alt will burn 350 Liquid Ozone per cyno.  Because cyno ships die frequently, it's a good idea to keep a spare cyno ship of the appropriate type, plus a spare cyno mod and 700 Liquid Ozone, in the cargo bay of any capital ship you expect to need the cyno alt.

Training a good cyno alt takes about a week away from the training of the main on the associated account.  A good additional skill to train for your cyno alt is one level of the Cloaking skill (which only requires Electronics IV).  This will allow the cyno alt to also use Prototype Cloaking Devices and sit cloaked off gates.  In this way, you can gather intelligence for your corp or alliance.

Cyno (and scout) alts are by no means the only type of alt, but they are among the most common.  Alts are also commonly placed in Jita or other large markets (called a "market alt") so that you can check Jita prices whenever you like.  And a few hundred thousand SP into science skills will create a "research alt" that can research and copy simple BPOs (for ammunition or mining crystals, for instance) in high-sec stations.  This process often takes weeks or months per BPO, but can generate decent passive income when you sell the researched BPOs.

Happy alt'ing!


  1. Thanks for the clarification. A pilot in Dodixie pm'd me recently and asked if I was an 'alt'. Though I've been playing for nearly three years, I didn't know how to answer that question. I am training two mains, though one is a utility main. Anyway, I closed the dialogue box without answering because I decided that answering the question was not in my best interest, whatever the answer.

    The topic and this incident came up a few hours later in a discussion with a corpmate who said that there was a small group of players that were trying to get alts banned. Does this make any sense at all?

    Off topic...I just spent a weekend reading your blog posts from June forward. I was interested in your perspective of last summers turmoil. It was a great read. Glad you're back in EVE.

  2. Good thing to do with cyno alts is not only Cyno III and Cloaking but to give them all racial Frigates to III as you never know whats available on the market, especially if you've parked them up in LowSec or NPC Null.

  3. How can a cyno alt cyno a main on the same account? Have I missed something here because I didn't think you could be on 2 characters at a time (not to mention logging out drops fleet for cyno).

  4. @Kyle: Virtually any EVE player with a capital ship has two accounts. The cyno alt goes on the non-capital ship account.

  5. @Crash: "The topic and this incident came up a few hours later in a discussion with a corpmate who said that there was a small group of players that were trying to get alts banned. Does this make any sense at all?"
    Yep, makes perfect sense. The MM part of MMORPG stands for Massively MultiPLAYER ... NOT Massively MultiCLIENT, as has become the norm.

    A nice corollary to this can be had in the real world. If you're American, you live it. Ages ago, in an eon known as "the 1950s", single-income households were absolutely the norm. Then, in the 1960s and 70s (I know, ancient history, but it has a point!), this thing called "Women's Lib" came out. As a result of that movement, in the 1980s, you saw more and more women entering the workforce.

    At first, homes where women worked, dual-income households, obviously more money came in, and more nice "rad" things were to be had ("rad" was an in word back then).
    As others noticed the dual-income households with their rad things to appease their latchkey kids (another anachronism -- now we call kids "miniature adults" or "mini-mes" but I digress), more and more people were awed by the radness of the dual-incomers, and wanted some of that for themselves.
    Verily, they sent the wife off to be a secretary, cook, etc, and earn more income for them, so that they too could have rad things.

    Then, as more and more households became dual-income households, the greedy evil Capitublicans saw there was more and more money available, and they needed moar $$ for themselves, even though their 1 job was more than sufficient income to provide radness for several families. Therefore, not only did the prices of rad things go up, because, after all, only the truly rad should have rad things, but the prices of common goods went up as well.

    Now in order to "make ends meet" and just pay bills/meet the bare necessities of life in our modern little world, you have dual-income households. If you're single, too bad, get another job... or hope to land that "rad" job that gets you enough by itself to get you by, or have a couple nice things.

    Dual-boxing in EVE is a perfect match to "dual-boxing" IRL. At first, people doing it are "better off" than everyone else, but only for so long, til everyone else catches on. Then, it practically becomes a requirement...and later, potentially, an economy-breaker.

    I have a "2nd main" account -- but it has nothing to do with my main-main's account, the two are separate and somewhat unequal. This account and char I play most often, the other I am currently skilling up for FW in another entire region of space. The two chars and accounts will never meet or be used conjunctively, nor be "dual-boxed".

    If you're going to have multiple accounts, that's really what you need to be doing, otherwise, you're "exploiting" CCP's greed, and the intended mechanic of requiring the help of other players for certain things.

  6. I have 3 cyno toons on one account (two alts and a 'main'). That way I can get almost anywhere I want to go just by chaining the account log on/offs with the cyno alts in the right systems for a long carrier flight.

    Gotta love JDO 5, JC 5, JFC 5.


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