Success at the hacking minigame in EVE is mostly a stat check - if you've brought enough virus strength and coherence for the particular difficulty level, you get the loot 90% of the time, a bit less and you lose it half the time, farther and you'll rarely open anything.

There is a bit of strategy, which seems be limited to near - absolute rules learned very early on: prime examples being "kill buffing nodes immediately", "open edge nodes first", "don't use data caches unless you're out of options". I've been exploring in sovnull for a while, and I think I'm seeing some patterns to how nodes spawn relative to each other or the terrain - for example the system core is almost always in an edge node. However, I'm doubtful that most of those patterns really exist, and I've struggled to develop any strategy beyond the obvious things I've discovered in my first attempts. Is there any harder-to-see algorithm to approach the minigame with, or is it simply something that's easy to master and without any hidden complexity to it?

  • I think it's just a simple hacking mini-game (see Deus Ex: HR hacking minigame). It was deliberately made to be random and that's about it. It even spawns the nodes at random with the highest probability for them to be in the last undiscovered node. It's supposed to impede your progress through the exploration aspect and give a sense of progression to the player. So in conclusion, don't dwell on it, there is no strategy to it aside from the ones you already learnt.
    – Baseballs
    Sep 18 '14 at 7:47

You should have high virus strength and coherence, you should fly a ship that has bonuses to these stats.

There is no surefire pattern to the nodes, they change depending on the difficulty of the site, and this only effects the density of the spawns.

The one constant is that if there is a bad node, and it is surrounded on all sides by nodes, the system core has to be one of those nodes.

The optimal strategy is to try and find this bad node by sticking to the center of all the nodes, only revealing the nodes that are surrounded on all sides by other nodes.

By following this rule you either find the bad node, and thus the system core, or you find a positive node or nothing at all. There is a fairly high probability that the center nodes don't have a bad node, in this case the system core could be anywhere, but usually spawns near a bad node.

I've had the best luck clearing all the center nodes I can, knowing that they have no bad nodes, then I explore, and destroy any bad nodes I come across, always destroy the buff nodes first, as the system core has a high probability of being behind a bad node.

  • I had given up on getting a good answer for this question but here you are. Thanks :)
    – Fadeway
    May 27 '18 at 5:13

The strategy of "edge nodes first" is actually incorrect.

The reason for this is the so-called "rule of 6": if an uncovered node has 6 nodes around it, it will never contain a "bad" node, UNLESS one of the 6 around it is the system core.

Therefore, the best strategy is to reveal any large solid sections of the grid, and then go for the edges that would do you the least harm if they turn out to be bad.


I think the middle nodes, the ones that create more options and open up other nodes are the best to open. A node that unlocks 3 other nodes for opening being optimum.

I've been playing with the edge theory, but I really can't tell, I just made it out to nullsec explorations for the first time and I'm underskilled with hacking 4 and in a Gnosis with no hacking implants or modifications. Just scan strenght and deviation.

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