Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Is there money in LowSec? An experiment.

I finally found the time to conduct a little experiment that has been itching me for some time. It had to do with Booster production, Gas harvesting, and being a newbie. I planned to do newbie stuff, with less than 200.000 skill points and see where it gets me. In LowSec. How long until I get killed?

I looked around a bit and since I wanted to explore the Solitude region anyway, it was as good as any other gas cloud region. I podded a new Character to the region and used my JF to bring in some supplies, about 40M worth for the new pilot, the rest to set up camp. Half of that 40M was for one skill: Gas Cloud Harvesting. I trained up Astrometrics first, got him a T1 scanning Frigate  and with absolutely minimal skills I started mapping out the LowSec parts of Solitude, gathering Bookmarks of sites and trying to get a feel for the activity in the region.

The moment I could, I got into this (terrible) little ship:


Gas Cloud Harvester I
Gas Cloud Harvester I
Core Probe Launcher I [Sisters Core Scanner Probe Ix8]

Survey Scanner II

Warp Core Stabilizer I

Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I
Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I

This. Is. A. Bad. Fit. Don't use it. No tank and fit for what the ship should not be used for: Scanning. It is amazingly cheap to fly, skill and ISK wise, though, and about the only thing you can get fit on it with my limited skills. But that's what it was about. A newbie would fly this.

I ditched the scanning Frig I had and only flew this ship, scanning for the Gas sites I was looking for, cherry picking. Look at it again. No cloak, no tank. I scanned in LowSec sitting there visible and vulnerable, sometimes in a safe spot, but mostly on expired site bookmarks I had found earlier.

Of course I first tried it out in HiSec, and it yielded about 5M/hour worth of gas plus scanning and travel time. I was doing the newbish stuff... selling to local buy orders instead of shipping it out. But 5M isn't that bad, is it?

Next, I set out into LowSec. Getting the good sites there yields nearly 50M ISK an hour, but also requires more scanning and travel time. (The low tier Gas is more abundant here, but really look for the higher tier gases!). In average, I could find a site every 30 minutes, and empty it within an hour. Still, I'm flying in an uncloakable, untanked ship on a character a couple of days old and in an NPC corp.

After 6 (!)days, I got killed for the first time. I was targeted once before on station and docked while scanning, and I was scanned down twice before that but escaped by warping out when DScan showed incoming ship to my location. Ok, the watching DScan is considered a level up for newbies, but everyone tells you to do it... so I went along and did that.

The kill happened like this: I was harvesting Gas (the third cloud of the day) when local blinked and DScan showed a Buzzard in the system for a second, after that: scanner probes. I had seen this before, often people were just flying around updating their bookmarked sites in the area. I caught the Buzzard a couple of times on DScan again while orbiting the Gas cloud at 1000m. (Newbie thing: Not aligned, you know).  New neutrals blinked into Local, and DScan showed me a Jaguar and a Cynabal, and one I didn't catch. I was hauling my gas in shortly before and saw the Buzzard warping close, so I assumed it was on the gas site at the time I got back and started harvesting again. And just as the Jaguar and Cynabal were warping close it uncloaked at 13km off the cloud. I had already initiated warp as it uncloaked and docked on station. There I waited for a bit to see what happens. The Jaguar and Buzzard logged or left system, the Cynabal pilot stayed. I undocked and did a directional scan toward my cloud bookmark to see a Cynabal and some drones. I warped to a nearby planet and verified. The Cynabal was on the site. So I warped back to station and logged on to another character for a bit. When I returned, the Cynabal pilot was docked with me on station. (This was not so newbish, but I wanted to know).

Another newbish thing to do: Undock and start harvesting again. The Cynabal undocked shortly after I started harvesting again. I only got two cycles so it must have been less than 2 or three minutes until he landed on grid after I undocked. From my POV he got me as I was already warping out, probably a skill level or two of any useful skill would have saved the ship. Or a tank if I would have been able to fit one for that matter. Lesson: More skills will make things a lot safer. More skills means: Less time scanning, less time harvesting, a cloak and a lot more survivability. Obvious, right? Except for a newbie, perhaps.

The result of this experiment, thus are:

- 1 Lost Venture (Around 10M ISK, those Sister Probes are expensive)
- 400M in harvested Gas, ready to be processed.

(So much for Risk vs. Reward)

- 100M ISK reward transfered to my killer after this post is published. (I just can't resist).

- The lesson from my killer that I should buy a light saber to bounce his shots back to him. I'd rather fit a tank, thanks, once the alt gets the skills.

All in all, a fun experiment. Also, maybe it's time to deploy some people to gas harvesting regions. The margins seem fair enough, and maybe together with a tank I should fit some tackle on a Venture and look for fun. Hero Venture with T3 Cruiser Drones should be fun. All considered, I really need to do the math on booster production. A single gas site can provide one POS with one day worth of material for standard Boosters, two sites from different regions for improved or strong Boosters. I wonder how the market looks.

There are of course other ways to make money in LowSec. Once you are able to set up a POS, that is.


  1. That is a very nice article. Everything related to low or nullsec seems to require a lot of ISK and time, but gas mining seems to be feasable also for a casual, 1-2 hours per day highsec carebear like me. Not that I am averse to risks, but with my limited game-time the options are limited.

    So, one question: When you talk about your per hour income, how much at-keyboard time is really needed to set up, go there, find the sites, mine them, sell stuff? I get the impression that you might very well need a full afternoon and evening to be able get this kind of income in the end. I am afraid as a CC "casual carebear"), all I can do is to prepare operations stepwise, one or two hours per day at maximum. So I am really looking for some sorts of feasible mini operations.

    If you have time and leasure, I would love to read about some low or nulsec mini ventures, which can easily be done in newb-range without having to spend to many hours in a row to actually pull it off.

  2. Interesting. I have long wanted to get into Booster production but it seems extremely painful to ship the gas around fairly competitive regions. Do you intend to put up a POS in lowsec or transport it all back to you WH?

  3. The OP is a guest post.
    Poke @Outof Bound, who I know has a follow up post written, just not yet transcribed into here.


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