Now to be honest this action was not borne out of a burning desire to satisfy a noble curiosity, or to explore the virtues of PVE.... No far from it. My reason was as petty as a promise of easy ISK an lots of it...
The terms "easy ISK" and "lots of it" are to say the least, relative. With my "easy ISK" scale being at the easier end of things, and my "lots of it" scale on the higher end of things I ended up being slightly disillusioned.
Yes I made some ISK, but due to the drudgery I experienced during the whole endeavour, I cannot in good conscience recommend COSMOS missions to anybody.
I go into a bit more detail on how I approached the whole thing below but I have to stress that the advice comes with a very hefty caveat:
Before I even completed what I call the "COSMOS missions" I was well and truly sick of it. Sick of PVE, sick of EVE. Sick of anything to do with EVE. I did not want to log in, I read no blogs, and I neglected my own. To be honest I don't think I have even now fully recovered.
Your mileage may vary and you might have a stronger penchant for PVE, maybe a more moderate approach will help - whatever the case, just remember this: I told you so.
Without further ado here is the thick and the thin of it.
1. The good:
During the course of running the "COSMOS missions" I netted in total 8 billion ISK in rewards, loot salvage and mission items (ran with two characters).
2. The bad:
Drudgery. The big money is to be had in items granted by just two agents:
Zabon Michi grants Michi's Excavation Augmentor (1.5 Billion ISK at time of writing) and Akemon Tolan grants Inherent Implants 'Noble' Hull Upgrades HG-1008 (2 Billion ISK at time of writing). The trick with these two agents is the high faction standing requirement (6.00 Caldari faction standing for Zabon and 7.00 Amar faction standing for Akemon).
If you have the requisite standings (or would rather do lvl 4 missions/tags/whatever to gain standings) your drudgery may be diminished.
3. The so so.
Both these agents are in a highsec pocket in the Otomainen system (no station). This means you have to cross a low sec system (Ihakana) in a ship that has a fair Gurista tank and enough dps to kill the ships in the complexes and missions. In addition you need to fit a Gurista shuttle in you cargo hold. Be careful as the pirates in Ihakana are fully aware of what goes on here.
Where Akemon Tolan is concerned some items are required that drop very rarely. The first is Jakon's head found in the Otitoh system (see guide). The second is Myrkai's Data Chip found in Otomainen itself, but is a very rare drop. The best I could do is this forum thread that suggests the chip drops at most twice a day - and then there is a lot of competition for it.
There is a bunch of guys perma camping the system and seemingly making a living of afk mining the spawns of rats in the complexes in Gila's as well as snagging the Data Chip and putting it up on contracts for hundreds of millions of ISK.
These guys know the layout (there are a couple of tricks, you need to know where to go, when to go, be quick, kill rats and avoid webbing drones). The numbers and knowledge made this a bit of a challenge. I did however manage to snatch the Data Chip on one occasion.
This bit of pvp interaction was almost the highlight of the whole episode - these guys aren't shy to show up with gangs inclusive of logi. In addition they don't have qualms going suspect in order to steel "your" Data Chip. Unfortunately downtime falls very late at night for me - 00:00 (with respawn of Chip around 01:30) - thus I ended up making a deal for another Data Chip with one of the Otomainen inhabitants.
A little bit about my methodology:
I ran the COSMOS missions with the sole purpose of extracting ISK. Due to standing requirements I focussed on Caldari/Amar Cosmos.
I used two characters that had no standings. To quickly build standings it is important to get your social skills up - this saves you a lot of heartache later on.
I would run a couple of the starter missions for each char until I could access the lvl 1 Caldari COSMOS agents. Then I would only run enough lvl1 COSMOS missions to gain access to the lvl2 COSMOS agents. Ditto for lvl3 and lvl4 agents. You will notice that your derived standing for Amar faction will also rise during this process.
When the Caldari agents are done (or at least the ones that I could do in highsec) I swithced to the Amar lvl1 agents (if you got your social skills up you should be ok here), then lvl2 through lvl4.
After the lvl4 Amar COSMOS agents were completed I was OK where the Caldari standings for Zabon Michi was concerned. I was however short on the Akemon Tolan standing requirement. It is at this junction that I decided to complete the Amar Epic arc. This greatly added to my PVE shooting rats pain (There are a lot of rooms with a lot of rats in some of those missions... and I had to do it twice!).
If you are still short, try some of the tag agents, circle missions, starter missions or good old lvl4 missions until you get over the line.
Some of the guides I used:
These are generally good in as far as it gives advance insight into the missions and explains where to find the mission items.
In conclusion, I did not enjoy the journey through the COSMOS that much, but if you are a PVE person at heart, or go about it in moderation there is no reason that you cannot farm a number or the required items and then repeat the missions with more characters. If one can manage to solve the scarce item problem and stand the drudge then this might not be a bad path to some ISK.