Thursday 27 September 2012

Fuel blocks - my introduction to manufacture

Fuel blocks are relatively large, uninspiring, and needed by owners of towers everywhere.  You can't put up a player owned station in the highest of highsec, it needs to be in a system 0.7 or lower.

Many tower owners make their own; some haul from a trade center; and some are sufficiently busy that they want to buy local.  To keep the lights on (or the shield up), every small player owned structure (POS) you see need 10 blocks per hour; every medium 20, every large lower 40.  So every large tower is (in round numbers) 30,000 / month (assuming I have done my maths right).

They are a great introduction to manufacturing.  A low entry cost, I have found perfect material efficiency blueprints available via contract for 20M (or find someone to research one for you - it should be cheaper).  They are profitable to make.

I have been making ISK not just from selling expensive product, but also from buying cheap.

I use to work out where to both buy and sell items.

First of all you need:
  • A blueprint.  Ideally these will be researched to 40 Material Efficiency.  You can buy both researched Blueprint originals and blueprint copies.  Alternatively if you have access to a material efficiency research slot (most likely a Player owned station), NPC Thukker Mix stations sell the original blueprints.  I like my BPO's (blue print originals) in highsec for the larger run sizes, but copies into our wormhole.
  • Some production skills and production efficiency skills.  I don't like learning level 5 skills unless they unlock later skills, but have just finished production efficiency 5 just for these blueprints.
  • A place to build your product.  I chose an NPC station, close to low security systems, and a null security pipeline and out of the major trade hubs regions.
  • A big transport ship.  I get by on my Iteron Mark V with cargo extension rigs and extended cargo holds, full of giant secure containers (about 49k m3); but it is a compromise.  I see a freighter in my future, and sometimes hire them for haulage.  The cargo is bulky, but the Iteron Mark V's walls are thin (nothing to see here, move along, don't target me, arrgh quick run away, dock, rename ship and swap alts for an hour or 2).  I have not lost a single ship for this, but have often been targeted, generally on my way into Niarja.
 Rather than list all the components (which you can see on your blueprint), I have categorised them as:
  • A 'racial isotope' (eg hydrogen isotope), farmed from mining ice products in the correct regions of space then refining.  Roughly 40% of your costs.  Look at prices around the faction's region, including major trade hubs.
  • Other ice products farmed from ice anywhere then refined; (except wormholes.  No ice in wormholes.  Nerf ice mining in known space!). Roughly 15% of your costs.  No real pattern about where I buy these; but hardly ever in Jita.
  • Planetary Interaction components.  I buy these away from the major trade hubs. Roughly 45% in costs.  I buy these away from the major trade hub districts (though often Rens has good prices).
I mentioned it before; but I will again.  Use an out of game tool like Eve Central (there are others) to work out what where you are buying.  Limit your search to regions you are prepared to buy from (empire regions for me), and you can exclude order sizes below what you are prepared to look at.  If I need 200,000 units of a racial isotope, then I will not bother with a 100 unit sell order even if it is really cheap.

Each of the racial towers have their advantages, and to be honest, I am not really sure what they are.  That's OK, what I do know is that there is demand for out of region fuel blocks, and buyers are willing to pay a premium for that fuel.  In Jita for Caldari fuel blocks, margins might be paper thin, but margins of the other fuel blocks are often much more.  In Hek, margins for Ammar fuel blocks were about 25%.  Off the beaten tracks, my margins are about 40% (with admittedly slower sales).

An obvious alternative to manufacturing the fuel blocks is simply to transport input materials and/or finished fuel blocks.  As a number pulled out of the air, my current profit is 70% of the profit is transportation of either material or fuel blocks from high supply stations to low supply regions; with the remaining 30% coming from manufacture.

Stockpiling mats for a few runs would also be a good idea that I am currently failing at. I have another distraction that is costing me ISK; Interbus 3, Foo Holdings 3.  It appears that some some gangs are grinding Interbus standing (what else could it possibly be?)

As an introduction to manufacture, or even for a haulage business; fuel blocks are a great start.

Monday 24 September 2012

Moving in

The biggest problem we had with getting properly set up in our wormhole system was working out how to get a large amount of structures and ships into here.

We consistently have a wormhole to low security space, and consistently have a wormhole to an adjacent C2 wormhole system.

Scan down the entrance to low security space, so much easier when I got a scanning frigate in here rather than just a disposable rookie ship with probes.  Mad panic to get a large (hisec) ship to get gear into range, then my cloaked hauler within range, and run the low security gauntlet.

I "know" I can't be hit with my Viator, but I still panic when I see red flashing ships on my overview.  On a recent trip back to high, I saw an accumulation of wrecks and cargo containers on the border of high/low security space; each trip had more.  My cloak works well, but if I hit one of those containers I am toast. Mmm.  Maybe no more trips here. 

However, our C2's also has another C2 static.  I started exploring these.  Over the last week or so, half of these have had a highsec exit;  The other advantage has been that some of our native lowsec exits have ended up 44 jumps from anywhere, where going via a neighboring C2/highsec exit has been as little as 4 from Jita, and 6 from Dodixie.

An Orca would be ideal to bring into here, especially with a scouting toon via a C2/highsec route, and would be an effective (if expensive) ship to shut down our C2 wormholes (maximum ship size 300,000,000 kg).  One day when and a lot more skillpoints, (i.e. toons grow up) I will get one.

The Viator can hold some cargo with up to 10k m3 of cargohold, but my Iteron mark V can hold up to 38k m3, or nearly 4 times as much; depending on how I fit my low slots, and use giant secure containers.  Sometimes 1 jump in a less secure ship is has less risk than 4 return trips in a secure one, especially via a scouted C2/highsec route.

Monday 17 September 2012

The abyss stares back

Interbus 1 : Foo 0

Last night I took my first direct potshot at one of our wormhole's Interbus customs office.  I have organised them to be taken down before by proxy, but never participated before.

Now I fit an Eve ship like you would expect an industrialist to do so; A bit of reading and a bit of ISK; and no where near enough ship skills to do it 'properly', either character skills or player skills.  I used regular ammo; not wanting to buy hours worth of faction ammo.   Last night, I brought in about 800 dps to attack one, and allowing several hours before I went to bed.  Such an optimist.

Now according to Chruker's eve_online website an Interbus customs office has 10,000,000 shield; and regenerates moderately quickly. 

Item Data

Volume: 100,000,000 m3
Capacity: 35,000 m3
Mass: 5,000,000,000 kg
Radius: 8,000 m
Hitpoints: 2,000,000 HP
Signature Radius: 4,500 m
Armor Hitpoints: 2,500,000 HP
Shield Hitpoints: 10,000,000 HP

Other Attributes

Attribute Name Value
shieldRechargeRate 50,000.00 Sec.
armorUniformity 0.75
shieldUniformity 0.75
structureUniformity 1

So, I make a recharged shield of 10,000,000 in 50,000 seconds to be about 200 shield repair per second.  I have however read that there is a peak repair rate of 500 shield repair per second, with a that peak occurring about 20%.  I am simply not yet informed enough to make a judgement about the accuracy of these numbers.  I also do not know whether the customs offices have resists or not; I have been told not; but still not sure.

What I do know is that those shield health bars move very very slowly.  The term 'break into a bank with sandpaper was mentioned a few times'.

We started off with a Drone Battleship and Battlecruiser; neither entirely set up as glass cannons.  We had a friendly ship help out for 1/2 an hour, which did help.  I realised that this was going to take a while, so 'quickly' gave a second toon a destroyer to help out.

After about 4 hours, my friend had to log off, with the customs office about 45% shields.  It is not entirely difficult to target one of these things; but  being aware enough to start shooting again after a reload is difficult. 

I started off the evening tired, and could easily have gone to bed at 10pm local.  After a herculean effort (primarily driven by coffee); about 1am local I got the shields down to 29%.  Then fell asleep.

I woke up again, to see the shields back up to about 32% cry, got them back to 30%; then threw in the towel and logged out.  Interbus + need for sleep won this round.

I acknowledge a certain lack of caution in falling asleep where I could be shot.  I have lost more than one ship that way.

When I woke up this morning and checked on the customs office; it was back up to 90% shields. sigh

Well, its off to EFT and google, to work out how I can squeeze out more damage from my ships; and to organise additional ships on my next bash attempt.

And this time I might bring faction ammo; expensive sure; but that extra damage may have made just enough difference to turn a miss into a hit.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Staring into the abyss.

I thought players were interested in wormhole space.  I now know it.  Not everyone sure; but there are players wanting to join.  I am very sympathetic to the idea.

My own plans are somewhat vague.  I really don't know what I am going to do with wormholes until I set up in there.  This rambling post reflects my confusion.
  • Planetary interaction?  Definitely.  
  • NPC's sites? probably.  
  • Maybe mining just to have a look.  
  • Explore adjacent wormholes? Most likely.  
  • Die to due unwanted visitors? almost certainly.
  • Attack transient neighbours?  probably not.
  • Player owned stations; most likely : costing about 200-400M each per month depending on size; for fuel blocks; either purchased outright or as forgone income.  (I won't use a small as primary POS).
This is excluding any capital costs.

Everything I have read says that wormholes are not a single person endeavour.  A C2 wormhole is enough to keep a few people busy, but how many?  Conflict arises when there are insufficient activities to keep everyone acceptably busy and in ISK

I have far more industrial skills than I have combat skills.  Some combat skills will be needed to take advantage of the sleeper sites.  Some combat skills will eventually be required for defense.  So, I am industrial in nature; I like building games.  Pew Pew is something that comes second for me.  I however can use pew pew players.

I have received an application from a pew pew'er.  Going from little more than a name I can tell a bit about you.  Specifically - are you the type to pew pew or not.  Do you target industrialists? others that PVP? pods?  While there is justification in everything; someone who has pew pewed before will want to pew pew again.  I don't need to find more people who will pew pew at me, as I already know where to find them.

A good thing about pew pew space is that it is constantly changing.  PVP'ers will have access to a constantly changing lowsec environment.  PVE'ers will have spawning sites both locally and in neighbouring C2's.  For hisec or lowsec I would recommend someone with pew pew experience look elsewhere; But for wormhole space? I think we can keep them busy.

I found this guide very useful.  I am proposing different operating procedures, and while not entirely agreeing with a document designed for life in a larger corp in a C5, it still was a useful read.

But to that player who contacted me; please see the 'Foo Holdings' tab at the top of this blog, I will want to run some background checks, and the instructions are listed.  My background is very visible, not just on this blog but on my other game blog too.

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Proposed change of scenery

I am currently cramped in my lowsec system.  There are 4 planets with good (2%) tax, and one with OK tax.  However, I am missing access to all the resources I need at a price I want to pay.

I have bought out all the cheap sell orders in the area; and local buy orders are not reliably filled.

On top of that; the system appears to be a pipeline to null, with unfriendly hunters camp it on the weekend; and often during the week.  This is inconvenient.

I now have a Viator (T2 cloaky hauler).  Everyone agrees that these are good things to have, and that they are 'impossible' to catch if I do the right things every time.  Hunters have been telling me this, so they must be right??

(There is also a complete lack of consensus as to how to fly or fit one, but that is a discussion for another day).

Impossible is a big word.  I have nightmares about coming across heavy interdictors (whatever they are), and a gate entrance swarming with drones and containers.

I have survived gate camps in my Viator, but I also survived with an Iteron Mark IV with lots of warp core stabilisers and lots of shield.  This does not mean that I desire to stick my head into a noose.  If I am not there, I can't be shot at.  I prefer to avoid camped gates.

One of the fears I have is that a couple of dreadnoughts would come and re-arrange the furniture; deciding to take out my customs offices and put up their own.  It happened in the system next door; I had purchased the mats for a customs office, and had organised with someone to take out the NPC station.  Then infrastructure started being re-inforced all over the place.  I have a web of blue (I talk to anyone and everyone), and players would come for 'the good fight', but I have very little desire to have one.  A good fight is where you you win by a small margin.  I would prefer to win by a very large margin; or avoid the fight altogether.  I also have nothing resembling 'twitch' reflexes.  And no-one deliberately turns up to be roflstomped - well not in expensive ships anyway.

I however have visited a class 2 wormhole with a low security static.  I lack the resources, character skills and player skills to properly exploit this wormhole.  Umm.  That has never stopped me.  I also should not have been in and out of lowsec in a t1 industrial either, putting up customs offices that I would be ... hard pressed to defend.

In the wormhole I have a basic frigate with a probe launcher and a cloak.  I also (now) know how to tell the difference between a sleeper site and a wormhole entrance.  One of these has ships that makes rookie ships go boom; the other one only might have ships.

The wormhole is largely untouched; an abandoned POS; a couple of (cheapish) player customs offices, and a (nearly) full set of planets.

There are a couple of other players that are interested in the wormhole, and we have plans of moving in.  We are gonna real soon now.  Honest.  As soon as I have the courage.  And these orders sell to free up isk.

Customs offices, command centers, control towers, structures, boats, probes, fuel, alts, blueprints.  I know we will forget something, and that the wormhole will collapse several times before I get what I want in there.  Logistics will be a pain.

The other great thing about a class 2 wormhole?  There is a maximum size of ship I need to worry about.  While a few unfriendly battleships can certainly turn up and ruin my day; my chances of defending infrastructure against a battleship or 3 are far better than my chances against a pair of dreadnoughts.

This sums up my upcoming WH move. 

So you sit in your camp and you stare at the fire
The doubt drops away as the hopes get higher
And you sing to yourself
It’ll be all right in the long run

And the sun gives ground to a long cold night
And you screw up your courage for another fight
But you know in your heart
It’ll be all right in the long run

After all; whats the worst that can happen?

Friday 7 September 2012

Lo Sec PI

As some may be aware; I am a large fan of low security PI; but it does come at cost.

The benefits are the potential for significantly reduced tax rates as well as better resource extraction.  I have access to 4 Player owned customs offices (poco) at 2% tax; two of which are mine and two are an alliance member's.

I pay tax on my own poco simply to assist with accounting and keeping track of roughly what I am saving via owning some, and answering an important question.  Is it better to own my own?  Is it better to negotiate with others for cheap access?

There are some local hunters who also use my Poco's;  They regularly sweep the area, keeping undesirables on their toes; and I provide cheap access in return.

However, I have lost a lot of ships.  An Iteron was never designed as a low security hauler.  It is in fact spectacularly bad at it.

I started a second account; and had an empty basic t1 hauler scout with a toon that had no implants, acting as bait ahead of my real hauler.  I was too predictable; and unfriendly hunter sitting cloaked on gate took out my second ship. Yes I did see that he was in local, but assumed he was too far away.  He also has a scout alt in the preceding system.

I talk to anyone and everyone.  There was another hunter who I thought was friendly without confirming it, who turned out not to be.  That said; talking still works.  I then asked the hunter what it would take to be blue.  He has a dislike of pure industrialists. In return for being mostly left alone, I put together an Atron tackling ship; and now just need to work out when is a good time to go on a roam.  I have no intention of crapping in my own back yard.  I also want to learn how a hunter on a roam works; in order to better defend against it.  Going on a couple of roam turns theoretical into practical knowledge.   For me this is win/win.  Hopefully this weekend.

What is currently working for low security planetary interaction:
  • Keep your friends close.  Talk to the locals.  Make new friends.
  • Keep your enemies closer.  Talk to the locals after you have been killed.  Put them on your watch list.
  • Some hunters and hunted alike will deliberately stay logged in; so you can not tell when they are active.
  • A scout ship tells you at least who is in local.  An empty industrial ship makes great bait. It however is not foolproof.
  • Immediately after downtime is a good time to shift product.  Anyone on is active and not AFK.  (one of the few advantages of my timezone in Eve).
  • There are more hunters on the weekend than during the week.  Local fills up with hunters on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Warp stabilisers are the best 'tank' on an Iteron.  The only time I have escaped with an Iteron intact is when I had more stabilisation than they had disruptors.  
  • Yes I know that heavy interdictors can lock me regardless, but I am yet to see one.
  • The time you spend at a poco is only for loading and unloading the customs office.  Warp to a 'Random' Safe Spot and cloak to shift goods between planet and customs office.  Once goods are on planet, then you can sit in a station or in hisec and re-do your planet.
What will be nice is that I am about to finish training on a cloaky hauler.

Thursday 6 September 2012

A trading game

Lately in Eve, I have been playing with my first blue prints - fuel blocks for POS.  I already have a bit to do  with planetary interaction (forming a significant input of POS fuel), and it seemed a natural extension.

I play Eve a little different to many (most?) around me.   I have not yet been an initiator in ship based PVP (though I do plan to be).  I don't mission for ISK (but will for standing).

I also have been a little quiet on Eve lately; using up my post count* on WoW. 
Some bloggers are relatively prolific writers; churning out 5 posts / week.  Over the last 3 years, I have averaged about 2 posts/week, but write as the inspiration takes me. With what will be 14 posts published in 16 days, written over about 3 weeks, I didn't have time to make any Eve posts.

It was good to look at again WoW, but the series made me realise that I like crafting games.  I played Capitalism Plus,  Civilization in several incarnations (almost always as a manufacturer), Sim City; basically, any game where I could assemble and manufacture an empire.

I found myself playing WoW in the same way.  But WoW's designers have specifically stated that they don't want you sitting outside an auction house looking for bargains, but would rather you were out in the world farming your own mats.  I was already suffering from a little burnout; and that comment certainly didn't help.

I realised how much I wanted a crafting game, and then realised I already was playing one