Sunday 2 December 2012

Skill Planning for Traders

There are a total of 13 trade skills,  7 of which I consider important primary skills and 6 that I consider less important secondary skills.

The primary skills are order skills that increase the number of market orders you can place and money skills that affect costs. Trade, Retail, Wholesale and Tycoon are the order skills, Accounting, Broker Relations and Margin Trading are the money skills.

The secondary skills affect remote orders or contracting. They can be useful or not depending on your particular market strategy. These skills are Contracting, Corporation Contracting, Daytrading, Marketing, Procurement and Visibility.

I'm going to assume the reader already knows what the different trade skills are, what they do and how to use them. I won't be describing trading or the skills involved in great detail because that's already been done very well many times before. For anyone who needs those details here's a link to a good article on Trade skills.

Regional Trading vs Station Trading

Before deciding what skills to get and what order to train them in you should decide on a trading strategy first. There are many subtly different trading strats you could use but generally speaking there are 2 main types of trading strategy, Regional Trading and Station Trading.

Station Trading is buying and selling on a single station with no travel involved. Your trader just sits in a station (usually one of the main trade hubs) buying things and posting them for resale on the same station at a profit. He never needs to undock. Your buy orders are limited to being filled on the station you're at. Profit margins tend to be lower than with regional trading but once you find the right price points volume can be very good.

Regional Trading involves a lot of travel, flying to pickup filled buy orders on one station and hauling them somewhere else for resale (typically the main trade hub in the same region). Your buy orders can be filled on many stations within the region, whether it's every station in the entire region or just those within a certain number of jumps. Profit margins tend to be higher but all the traveling takes more time. The bigger you get the more time it takes.

If you're going to do Regional Trading secondary skills can be handy, especially Daytrading and Marketing. I find these two skills particularly useful for reselling items that were sold to me in or behind major gatecamps in low/null where it may not be worth the trouble of transporting the items out. Marketing allows you to post sell orders without traveling to the station the items are on and Daytrading lets you modify orders remotely.

If you're just going to do Station Trading you don't need any secondary skills other than Marketing and you only need Marketing because it's a requirement for other skills.

As the first commenter mentioned Daytrading is also very useful for updating orders while away from the station doing something else like traveling, mining or ratting. Not a must have skill but certainly very convenient. It's great for Regional Traders and characters who do more than just trade. I used it a lot when I was doing mostly Regional Trading. Being able to update orders while flying around in space picking up goods cut the time it took to go through my whole routine nearly in half.

The 5 main trade hubs roughly in order of market size are Jita (by far the largest), Amarr, Dodixie, Rens and Hek.

Most players will do best starting a trading career with Regional Trading. Only move into straight Station Trading once you have some experience playing the markets and a good amount of capital to play with... Or when you find yourself spending too much time hauling all the stuff you're buying around.

Basic Trader

For players who just want good basic trade skills I recommend the following skills.

Trade IV
Retail IV (requires Trade II)
Accounting IV (requires Trade IV)
Broker Relations IV (requires Trade II)
Margin Trading IV (requires Accounting IV)

Regional Traders will probably also want Daytrading IV and Marketing II or III. That'll let you place sell orders from 5 or 10 jumps away and modify all orders (both buy and sell) from 20 jumps away.

These skills give you 53 market orders (out of 305 maximum possible) with lower sales taxes and broker fees. Margin Trading could be considered optional for more casual traders. If you always have plenty of cash on hand you don't need it. If you keep running short of cash when entering buy orders you do need it.

Note: Most players will also want to get Contracting I (requires Social I), it makes moving items between characters a whole lot simpler but it isn't absolutely necessary to play the market.

Serious Trader

For the serious trader who wants more diversification, higher volume and needs to shave costs even further.

Retail V
Marketing II (requires Trade II)
Wholesale IV (requires Retail V and Marketing II)
Accounting V
Margin Trading V

Broker Relations IV
Trade IV
Daytrading IV (for Regional Traders only, requires Trade IV)

These skills give you 125 market orders, lower costs a bit more and stretch your investment capital even further. What order you train the skills in depends on how you want to grow your business. You can diversify into more varied items with more active orders, you can lower costs and stretch your investment capital further, or you can do both.

To get more orders Retail V and Wholesale IV are the skills you want. To lower costs you want Accounting V and to stretch your capital further, Margin Trading V.

Personally I'd recommend getting Retail V, Marketing II, Wholesale IV, Margin Trading V and Accounting V in that order. If stretching your capital is more important to you than getting more orders, get Margin Trading V first. I wouldn't bother with Broker Relations V until after you already have all the other trade skills you intend to get.

On most of my traders I actually trained Tycoon IV before Margin Trading V. Having gotten Margin Trading V first on the last couple characters I feel it works a lot better for me and my trading strategy with that training order. On the next trader I'll probably get Margin Trading V before Accounting V. In fact, I'm considering leaving Accounting V until after both Margin Trading V and Tycoon IV.

Master Trader

This is where I consider a character "finished" training trade skills.

Wholesale V
Marketing IV
Tycoon IV (requires Wholesale V and Marketing IV)
Broker Relations V

Acounting V
Margin Trading V
Trade IV
Retail V
Daytrading IV (for regional traders only)

That'll give you 269 active orders with all money skills maxed, able to place sell orders and modify all orders from 20 jumps away.

Additional Notes

There are still more skills you could learn or train further but do you really need them?

If you're a station trader you don't need remote order skills.

Even if you do need remote order skills who really needs Procurement and Visibility anyhow? Maybe a handful of players working unusual market strategies deep in enemy space.

You could always get another 36 active orders by maxing Trade and Tycoon too but is that really worth nearly a month of skills training time? Eventually sure, but most of us can probably find better things to do with a month of training for the immediately foreseeable future.


  1. Good post. I'd like to come to the defence of remote orders a bit as I think you may be underselling them.

    Market manipulation of enemy staging hubs is a big tactic in null sec. It's also a way for bold independent traders to "ninja trade". Go to a busy null sec system, buy all the trit people have listed at 5 isk because they think they're selling to their friends, relist for 10 and watch your wallet fatten.

    Daytrading also allows you to modify orders while doing something else. So you can be gate camping or mining or ratting in a drone boat or something that doesn't require too much effort while adjusting the prices on hundreds of orders. (to 0.01 isk cheaper than the other guys, naturally).

    Procurement let's you target a number of busy hubs. Suppose you want to buy meta 4 shield transporters in The Forge. Jita top buy is 20k but at some of the individual missioning hubs the price is as low as 1 isk. So instead of putting up a regionwide buy order at Jita for 20000.01, you could put an order at Korsiki for 10000.01, an order at jita, an order at osmon for 5000.01, an order at Uitra for 1.01. So you would pay a lot less for those modules.

    If you wanted that set of orders to be within 2 jumps orders then you would need a couple of levels of Visibility.

    Another use in the old days was to be able to update Jita orders while not actually in Jita and thus not suffering Jita lag but Jita's really not laggy any more.

  2. You bring up some excellent points Stabs. I didn't post about that kind of stuff because

    a) The post was already getting pretty big without it.

    b) Other than using Daytrading to update orders while doing other things (I did mean to mention that in the post and I'll fix that now), I don't think very many players actually do that kind of stuff much, especially not as a regular everyday trading strategy.

    BTW, I have done all of the things you mention at one time or another though not as a consistent regular part of my trading strategy. Now that my main is free of Jita I'll be spending a lot more time in null on him and while I plan on doing several different things there ninja trading is definately part of the plan.

  3. I have wondered about corps/alliances using market manipulation as a war tactic.

    I'd love to hear more about it from commenters.

  4. For null sec manipulations the most notable recent one probably was the Goons Scimitar manipulation in the Delve campaign last summer. The Goons had been quietly buying up Scimitars in high sec for a few days, I believe, then pushed forward and cleared out all the stock. All stock in -A- stations was bought and relisted absurdly high. This was coordinated with key reinforcement timers so that -A- and their Soco allies were simply unable to field fleets as FCs don't undock without adequate numbers of logistics.

    There was also a lot of low level hostile profiteering done on the -A- markets in that campaign, simply buying up, say, ammo for the fleets that they were flying and relisting it at double price. In most cases those were attempts to sell to a captive audience as opposed to the Scimi manoeuvre which was an attempt to completely deny stock.

    Later there was a drama in -A- again a couple of months ago over relisting. An ally was unhappy about repair fees in -A- stations so when FC Makalu announced that they would be reshipping to Tempests this guy bought out all the Tempests and relisted them for substantially more. PL spies uploaded the rather amusing soundcloud.