Home to over two hundred people on an average evening, the system of Hek in the Metropolis region is one of the biggest Minmatar trade hubs. The safe route from Jita to Hek is a whopping 19 jumps, putting the system far enough away that a trade hub is very much required. The route between Jita and Hek is often heavy with industrial traffic and has historically been a prime target for suicide attacks against Tech 1 industrials. When hauling anything worth more than 20 million ISK, use a Tech 2 industrial ship like the Occator that will deterr most suicide gank attempts.
A short-cut exists which provides a reasonable 9 jumps to Jita but this route passes through the famously dangerous low security systems of Crielere, Rancer and Otou. Although some traders with Jump Freighters find the risk of jumping directly into Otou and thus bypassing Rancer acceptable, traditionally all traffic is warned to stay well clear of this route. Hek is supplied with all the basics but its selection of Tech 2 ships is limited and prices are on the whole about 10-20% higher than expected. It's far enough from Jita that I wouldn't advise traders to add it to their rounds but it would make a great spot to keep an alternate market character in.
Rens VI - Moon 8 - Brutor tribe Treasury:
Rens in the Heimatar region has long been the Minmatar's main trade hub. At 25 jumps from Jita and 6 from Hek, items are transported here at a premium. Like Hek, prices are on the whole about 10-20% higher than expected and for traders there's good money to be made. Unlike Hek, however, Rens is absolutely packed with everything you could want. The availability of Tech 2 ships is good, though you can expect to pay a little more than usual for them. Tech 3 ships and subsystems are a similar story, making it significantly more expensive to put one together here than in Jita.
Rens is typically home to several hundred players at a time and being surrounded by a cluster of systems with level 4 agents, it makes a popular home base system for corps. Traders should make note that the price differences between Jita and Rens make it an excellent candidate for trade runs. While the trade route is 25 jumps long through high security space, it's perfect for those long autopilot hauls you can leave in the background while you're doing something else. When on autopilot, make sure you've done your best to proof your ship against possible suicide attacks. The best thing you can do is to make yourself an unappealing target. Carry less than 20 million ISK's worth of goods in a standard Tech 1 hauler, less than 100 million ISK in a Tech 2 transport ship and less than a billion ISK's worth of items in a freighter.
It's a testament to the effectiveness self-organising systems that trade hubs erupt around centres of activity. Although most people go straight to Jita for buying and selling goods, there are plenty of other trading hot-spots in New Eden. As a buyer, the different trade hubs give you alternative places to buy something when the prices are clearly being manipulated up. As a trader, they give alternate markets to play in. While Jita's market turnover is legendary, there's a great deal of profit to be had in spreading part of your stock across multiple regions and trade hubs. In next week's final part of this in-depth look at EVE's trade hubs, I explore some of the biggest Gallente and Amarr trade hubs.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at massively.com. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you want to message him, send him an e-mail at brendan.drain AT weblogsinc DOT com.