Our second war with Absolute Defiance ended, but a new war started with Noob Farmers began at 0109 EVE time today. That means another corporation is paying CONCORD for Eve-Scout Enclave to deliver hugs in high sec. But unlike Absolute Defiance, Noob Farmers appears to move around some. So the question is, how can we ensure the delivery of the hugs Noob Farmers so desperately needs in a timely manner?
The answer is fairly simple. Locator agents. Locator agents are agents that not only give out missions, but can track down players as long as they are not located in a wormhole. The better the standings a player has with certain NPC corporations, the better the quality of the agent available. That's right, doing PvE in order to increase standings can help in PvP situations, especially war decs.
All players have access to the basic level 1 locator agents. These agents can instantly locate a player in the same system and locate a player in the same constellation withing 1 minute. If the player is in a station, the agent will even disclose the station the player is docked in. However, the location the agent gives is the player's location when the search began. Not a great difference for level 1 agents, but a factor in the better quality agents.
The agent does charge for the information, but will name the price before disclosing the location. In the case of the level 1 agent, the agent will ask for 1,000 ISK if the player you are searching for is in the system or 5,000 ISK if the player in in the same constellation. Just obtaining the price from the agent can tell a player some information. If the player is not located within the constellation, then the agent tells you that the agent is outside the area and does not charge for the information.
Level 2 locator agents are better than level 1 agents due to the fact the level 2 agent can search the entire region, not just the constellation. Level 2 locator agents, just like mission agents, require a standing with the corporation or faction of 1.0 Like a level 1 agent, a level 2 agent can locate a player within the same system instantly and within the same constellation within 1 minute. But the level 2 agent can find a player within the same region within 8 minutes. The required payouts are 5,000 ISK if the player is located within the same system, 10,000 ISK if the player is in the same constellation, and 25,000 ISK if the player is within the same region. If the player is located outside the region, the agent informs you the player is out of the search area and does not charge you for that information.
One final attribute I have not touched on is the cooldown period in which you can ask an agent to search for a second player (or the same player a second time). Both level 1 and level 2 agents have a 5 minute cooldown period. However, that is only if you pay ISK to find the location of a player. See the loophole in the system? But I'm not sure how often someone would cycle through 20 players to see which ones are in the system, especially since local is available to do that. Perhaps finding players in the same constellation is more useful.
Level 3 locator agents are available with corporate or faction standings of 3.0. Level 3 agents not only can find players located anywhere outside of wormholes, but can find players in the same constellation or region faster than the lower level agents. Level 3 agents can find players within the same constellation within 30 seconds, the same region in 4 minutes, and anywhere else in 8 minutes. However, the agent asks for 10,000 ISK if the player is in the same system, 25,000 ISK if the player is in the same constellation, 50,000 ISK if the player is in the same region, and 100,000 ISK if the player is outside the current region. The cooldown to reuse the agent, at 15 minutes, is also greater than the lower level agents.
Finally, the level 4 agent becomes available with corporate or faction standings of 5.0. The search times drop to 20 seconds if the player is in the same constellation, 2 minutes if in the same region, and 4 minutes located outside the region. The offset is the increased cooldown time (30 minutes) and the increased costs (25,000 ISK / 50,000 ISK / 100,000 ISK / 250,000 ISK).
For those just starting out, getting access to level 2 agents isn't that hard. Just train the Connections and Diplomacy skills to improve standings and the Social skill to improve standings gain. Then again, saying that gaining standings for myself is easy. Both Rosewalker and Wandering Rose have access to all the Minmatar and Gallente level 4 location agents. I also have an alt that has access to all the Caldari level 4 agents and is only 0.15 away from having access to all of the level 4 Amarr agents as well.
I will add that I got a lot of faction standings from running COSMOS missions. So if you really want to go on a standings grind, I'd suggest training Social up to 5, then run the COSMOS missions while you train Connections. Just getting standings up to 3 with one faction will help a great deal. Plus, unless you are only interested in PvP, high standings unlocks so much in EVE.
Hopefully this explanation helps a little bit in understanding how locator agents work. And who knows. Perhaps one day you can provide the intelligence required to hug a war target.