Monday, May 20, 2013

Look Before You Leap

Our fleet of alts is killing sleepers tonight.  That's me and my corpie, Jayne, and several of our alts.  Earlier I flew my cloaky PVP Tengu, Artemis, to scout our connected C3.  It's a pretty large system.  The wormhole is near to an outer planet about 30 au "south" from the center.  There's a second planet that's about 15 au "east" of the sun.  And the center with several planets.  There are several towers, but they are all dead.  There's several other signatures: highsec static, some gas, some rocks.  No ships uncloaked.  No probes except mine.  Nothing for Artemis to hunt.

OK, I fly Artemis back to our POS to reship.  Meanwhile, my alt jumps in the our throwaway overwatch ship, a blackbird.  Jayne gets his two characters into PVE Tengus.  I fly in, and get my PVE Tengu.  Now we fleet and I move the fleet to the wormhole.  We jump.  My alt goes to sit cloaked about 20 km from the highsec static to listen and watch; he can warp over to jam us out of a jam if anyone jumps us.   The rest of us tear into the first anomaly.

Things are going fine.  Sleepers are killed.  Wrecks are tractored, looted, and salvaged.  We move on to a second site.  Just as we are completing the first wave, pooooorgh!  Wormhole sound!  I report it on com and we wait.  Immediately two Drakes appears on the highsec static, and pause for a second.  Are they after us?  Two Drakes vs three Tengus seems an unlikely prospect, but they may have a cloaky mate.  Or three.    Should we abort?  I tell Jayne to get aligned.

The Drakes warp off.  Where to?  I didn't see.  Ping dscan from my Tengu: nothing.  Ping dscan from my Blackbird: there.  They are still in the outer system.  What are they doing?  Another ping and... sleeper wreck!

Sleeper wrecks mean one thing: players trying to earn money.  Evidently they don't know we are here, or they'd never be so foolish.  We discuss it, and decide to attack.  However, there's a problem.  Our ships are PVE ships.  None of them has tackle.  We've got to get back to our POS to reship, and that means warping right by these guys where they'll be able to see us on dscan.  Still, nothing to be done about it.  So, I warp fleet to our wormhole, and hope they are not paying attention.  We zoom by and jump on contact.  Then we go to reship.  Artemis, time to hunt.

Meanwhile, I am watching dscan from the Blackbird, like a hawk.  No change.  No change... wait.  There's a Drake on grid at the wormhole.  Did they bug out?  No, the other guy's not there.

I bring in Artemis, and Jayne brings a stealth bomber.  We have a PVP Drake poised on the other side of our static.  I warp to the one anomaly that's around the outer planet.  Sure enough: there's a Drake still fighting sleepers, right about 25km from me.  Evidently the first guy took damage or got nossed enough to have to get offgrid; the wormhole is a fairly safe spot for that.  I set course for the guy, and close to about 10 km when Jayne is ready with the bomber.  We both uncloak; I point and web the Drake and start hitting him with assault missiles.

I'll give it to the guy, his reaction was perfect.  He rapidly locks the stealth bomber and fires a round of missiles, and gets his Warrior IIs out to sic on him.  Jayne gets just one volley of torpedoes off, and warps.  The guy now starts hitting me.  My shields are taking damage but I am fine.  Meanwhile, the other enemy Drake has returned.  Not sure if this was prompted by us or if he was just out of the action long enough to heal.  In any case, this does not help as Jayne has transited the hole and warped in our PVP Drake.  The enemy has taken damage already from the sleepers, and has heavy missiles and no tackle; we've got no damage and assault missiles.  They've got passive tanks, we've got big buffers.  The result is now ordained.  The second Drake warps off -- we could have pointed him, but Jayne instinctively pointed the guy he was shooting.  The first Drake dies and promptly zips off in his pod.  We assume he'll got to the highsec static, so we chase.  He does.  But they both escape easily.

We come back in our PVE Tengus and finish their site.  One of them pops into the system in a Loki, and disappears.  I am not sure if he cloaked or left.  He's not likely to find us since the anomaly is now gone.  And I doubt he can do anything anyway, since we have numbers and our overwatch.  But on the other hand, it's getting late and we have a kill.  So, we finish the last wreck and go home.

Good fight to you guys, anonymous Drake pilots.  Watch your dscan a little more, maybe, but scouting the system is definitely a good idea.  (I wonder if maybe they did scout and just missed us, perhaps having to fly a few jumps to reship.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Skillpoints and ISK

Some EVE players create and sell characters as a business.  I have considered doing this myself.  Assuming the skillpoints are placed into useful skills, characters sell based primarily on their skillpoints.  A character that is a year old should have around 20m skillpoints; such characters sell for about 8 billion ISK.


The main way in which one gets skillpoints is simply to subscribe.  You get one character month of training per PLEX, and PLEX have an ISK value.

The formula for skill points is: (primary + secondary/2) SP/minute.  Per hour (the time unit used in EVEMon): 60*primary + 30*secondary.

A character with no implants, remapped to the best possible attributes for a skill, gets primary=27 and secondary=21.  Thus, 2250 SP/hour.  There are 24 hours per day and 30 days per month, so 720 hours per month.  One PLEX costs around 525m ISK (May 2013).  Thus we can compute the fundamental conversion of ISK into skillpoints: at best, your character pays 324 ISK/SP.  At worst, both attributes are 17; in this case you get 1530 SP/hour, or 477 ISK/SP.


With these figures in hand, we can compute the cost effectiveness of implants.  However, to do this we must make further assumptions.  This is because implants last forever, unless you replace them, or you get pod killed.  Because of this, we cannot compute implant values in ISK/SP without some means to bound the lifetime of the implant, and/or discount its gains over time.  I am adopting the former approach, and will simply compute implant values assuming they last a finite time, without discounting future skillpoints gained at all.

What are some interesting lengths of time?  Well, one thing I'd like to know is: is buying an implant when I get cyber 1 worthwhile, if I plan to get a better implant at Cyber 4?  (Cyber 1 to cyber 4 takes around 3 days; 1/10 month.)  And similarly, is buying an implant at cyber 1 worth it to get to cyber 5?  (17 days: 1/2 month).  Many useful low-skilled alts can be created in about 2 to 3 months, so, to stick with a strictly geometrically increasing time sequence, let's adopt multiples of 5, and compute values for 0.1 month, 0.5 month, 2.5 months, 12.5 months, and (for fun) 62.5 months.

Here is a spreadsheet showing this data.

The table shows the skillpoints gained by an implant under the assumption that the character only trains skills whose primary attribute is the one the implant boosts.  If the implant boosts a secondary attribute, double the number shown in the table.

I have bolded numbers which are less than the PLEX cost of skillpoints.  Thus, we can see that for training many low skilled alts, it is not worthwhile to train to cybernetics IV to get better implants, since these implants are not cost effective in the amount of time that the character will train.

We also can see that for training cyber 4, using a +1 intelligence implant is worth doing, but not a memory implant.  If you are going for cyber 5, buying a +1 intelligence implant and a +1 memory implant will be worthwhile.  Getting +2 versions or higher is not worth it.

For training for-sale characters of 1 year, +4 implants are a marginal deal in terms of just their skillpoint effect over that year.  The most salable skills are combat skills, and these largely divide into two classes: perception/willpower, and intelligence/memory.  A typical combat pilot might have half of his skillpoints in each of these categories.  So, you'll get about half value (2x the cost shown in the table) for implants boosting the two primary attributes, and a quarter value (4x cost) for implants boosting the secondary attributes.  This would suggest buying +3 implants for the primary attributes and +2s for the secondaries.

That said, remember that I assumed that there was zero value to having implants after the end of the time period.  This would be true if, for example, the character became a utility alt of some kind and never trained any skill again.  However, it is pretty obviously untrue for most for-sale characters: the new owner will value the implants.  Most of the cost of the implant can be passed on to the new owner.  So, I'd suggest +4 implants to all attributes you train much, which will be all attributes except maybe charisma.  Many characters will barely use charisma, and can settle for a +1 or +3 implant.

Cerebral Accelerator

Finally, we discuss the Cerebral Accelerator (CA).  CAs are not for sale on the markets; you can only find them in contracts.  They typically go for around 300m ISK.  They give +3 to all attributes for a starting character but only to the character's 35th day.  Is this worth using for a for-sale character?  Where is the breakeven point?

I assume you plug the thing in ASAP and train throughout the 35 days.  Each hour, the CA gives 270 extra skillpoints, no matter what skill you train.  So, the total skillpoints gained is 226800, and the cost is 1323 ISK per skillpoint.  This is considerably worse than what you get for PLEX.  So in general, I find CAs not worth using.

It is worth noting that the CA can speed you to getting your +5 implants.  Assume that you have decided to go for +5 implants for whatever reason.  The CA will decrease the time it takes to get them, by about a day and a half.  In this case, the CA in effect returns extra skillpoints, namely, the ones that you get because you plug in the +5 implants earlier than you otherwise would.  Let's compute that.  Normally, assuming you've remapped to Intelligence/Memory, and you use two +1 implants, it will take 13d, 16h, 16m to train Cybernetics V.  With a CA boost, it takes 12d, 6h, 18m.  So, you save roughly 1d, 10h.  That's 34 hours extra time with +5 implants instead of +1, which is worth 360 skillpoints/hour.  So, total is 12240 skillpoints gained, increasing the amount the CA is worth by about 5%.  Still not worthwhile unless you can find a really cheap CA.

We can also compute when a CA is always superior to PLEX, that is, when it gets you at least 324 ISK/SP.   This happens at a cost of 73.5m ISK.  (Add 5% if you use it to train Cyber V.)  So, if you ever see one for that price, grab it.  Actually, what matters here is the proportion of the price of the CA to the price of PLEX.  Since we assumed a price of 525m for PLEX, what we see here is that CAs are worth using if you can get one for ~0.14 PLEX.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'll be Dual Training Twice Over

It's official: dual character training will be in Odyssey:
Activating Dual Character Training on your account allows two characters to be trained at the same time for 30 full days. ... the system doesn't care which individual characters are trained, as long as the simultaneous limit is not reached.
An exciting new feature for me.  I have two accounts, both which have three characters.  These characters' functions are, loosely, as follows:

Account 1:

  • main - combat, explorer, PI, trade, jack of all trades
  • low skilled ganker - T1 cat pilot
  • PI alt - PI, modest scanning skills
Account 2:
  • trading alt - trade, freighter pilot, PI, industry
  • main - combat, modest scanning skills, PI
  • scanner alt - very modest scanning skills

On both accounts, I skimped on one or more of the alts in order to keep the main account training.  For example, my ganker alt has only T1 skills; he would be much better with T2, but I was unwilling (especially at the time I trained him) to take so much time for that.  Two more weeks seemed like a lot when my main was just 6 months old.  Another example: my PI alt on account 1 can only fly a Badger II (requires Caldari Industrial IV, ~3 days of training), and not the much-superior Iteron V (requires Gallente Industrial V, ~17 days).  There are still months worth of skills that would be worthwhile for my alts to have.  And also, as time goes on I sometimes learn about the utility of skills that I did not understand or could not exploit when I was training a character.  For example, my trading alt could profitably get into manufacture, but currently I have less than a day of training time spare for my account #2 combat pilot to get Destroyers V and BC V before June 4.

If I wanted to train in parallel now, I'd have to pay 2 plex to move my utility characters to a new account.  But I don't want to have three accounts permanently.  So eventually I'd have to pay another 2 plex to move a character back.  Training 2 months for 6 PLEX?  I'll pass.  2 months for 2 PLEX?  Gimme.

People are saying this will boost PLEX demand.  I think this is true in the short run, but not the longer run.  There will be a lot of people, like me, who will take advantage of this new feature for a limited time to round off the training of secondary characters.  But these characters will still remain secondary: I don't spend hours playing the Jita market, and I don't want to.  I do PI for PLEX.  I play the game to shoot spaceships.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Making POS Fuel is Not Worthwhile

I have recently moved into a wspace system where one can make POS fuel from the ground up, via PI.  Everything other than ice products can be made locally.  I've commented before on the profit of making POS fuel: pretty pitiful.  So that's one real strong reason not to make it in substantial quantities.  But still, it might be worth making for a different reason: size.

I run a large tower.  This requires 28800 blocks of fuel per month, which is 144000.00m3.  I live in moderately deep wspace: I cannot always find a highsec exit.  Also, the path out goes via random wspace systems, which may have hostiles present.  So the bandwidth of goods in and out is a problem worth worrying about.

Worse, I am planning to do significant PI to make money.  If each of 10 characters makes 5000m3 of PI goods per planet per 9 days, as I discussed in the previous post, then that is 833333m3 that have to be carried out per month.  This can certainly be done; at 35000m3 per Iteron V load, it's 24 loads.  But it would certainly be nice to reduce it.

One way to reduce it would be to create P3 goods.  In the step from P2 to P3, some shrinkage is attained: the factor is either 0.6 (for P3 goods requiring 2 P2 inputs), or 0.4 (for those requiring three P2 inputs).  So, one way to proceed is to produce P3s, particularly the ones which require three inputs.  We have one of those we can make, so that's one thing I will do.

Another thing we might do to decrease bandwidth is to make POS fuel.  (Certainly, that one should make one's own fuel is a popular idea among wspace dwellers.)  What is the size reduction of POS fuel of its inputs?  And what is the input volume of ice products?  I don't know, but I am about to figure it out.

... OK, I just punched numbers into my spreadsheet (a copy of the one that I discussed before).  The result is pretty clear.  Here are the facts:

  • POS fuel blocks (5m3) are a little bit smaller than their inputs (5.75m3).
  • The ice-derived inputs to POS fuel (4.5m3) are just slightly smaller than POS fuel itself.  
  • The PI-derived inputs to POS fuel (1.25m3) are a small fraction of its volume. 

Given these findings, as well as the low profitability of POS fuel, and the fuss of having to set up PI to create its inputs, as well as the opportunity costs, I find no value in making POS fuel myself.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Low Work PI in Wspace

EIEIO.  I have a farm in wspace, in a C1 system with highsec static.  I was living there a while, part time.  I found is that C1 space is pretty boring.  You get a few anoms or sigs per week.  Once you do these, and you do your PI, there's nothing to do.   So I was doing exploration in highsec the other half of the time.

I recently I have moved up into higher wspace.  My PI setup remains at the farm, along with the that of my corporation members and several alts.  But I can no longer easily visit to move around planet goo.  Thus, I am thinking about how to get optimize the PI income I can get, subject to the constraint of visiting as little as possible.


I have the skill to use five planets.  (I do not feel that spending 20 days to get a level V farming skill is worth it.  My main is less than a year old, and my alts are low skilled.  There are more important uses for my skillpoints.)  I have Command Center Upgrades IV.  So these are the constraints on my PI setups.

Currently, I make P1 goods on all planets.  I make P2 goods on two planets, using the P1s from two others. (The P1 outputs from my fifth planet are handed off to a corp mate to make P2s).  I run extractors for 24 hours and 45 minutes.  Having a schedule of about a day means that I need to reset them every night, which I do most nights (occasionally I forget or am busy).  The 45 extra minutes gives some leeway.  Also, 24h45m is the largest time increment for extraction that I can use before the PI programming uses 30 minute blocks.  I don't want 30 minute blocks because I have to cancel production fairly often to reset.

In terms of my time, it is almost trivial to reset each extractor on any logged in character.  This might take a minute per character (for 5 planets) if I do it fast.  If I linger and move around extractor heads, maybe 5 minutes total.  And there is often slack time playing EVE anyway, for example when travelling or mining, or sucking gas.  It is not trivial to log in PI alts to reset extractors.  Often the main account is busy.  Certainly you can never use slack time to do it.  And in any case a login takes a minute or two.  But still this is a pretty minor amount.

The substantial time taken doing PI is due to two things.  First, if you have to move goods up or down to orbit, you must access the POCO, and that requires being in the system.  Flying to a remote wormhole entrance can be very costly, and even a few jumps adds several minutes to a process which is short enough that the extra minutes are costly.  (Actually moving the goods up or down if you already in the system is almost trivial.)  So, my PI plans require no storage of goods in orbit.  If you are reading this and thinking about setting up a farm where you live, moving goods up/down is easy and this will not constrain you.  So you can use the POCO as additional storage for your PI installation.

The second substantial timesink in PI is unavoidable by everyone: you have to actually fly to the POCO and pick up goods.  (You can drop off goods too in this step.)  Obviously this requires presence in the system.  It is this step that I am seeking to reduce in frequency to a minimum.

Now that my new constraints are clear, we can analyze several designs for extracting PI goods.  Since all PI starts with extraction, let's look at that first.

R0 Extraction Planet

Imagine a planet that is optimized only for the production of R0s.  (R0s are the lowest-level resources, created by extractors.)  With an advanced command center, there is enough power to run the following PI setup:

2 extractors, 9 heads each
2 launchpad

Each extractor outputs directly to a launchpad.  Doing a pickup is easy, just move the R0s into orbit then go there with an industrial capable of holding 20000m^3.

Planets in wspace seem to average about 1m R0s extracted per 24 hours, using 9 extractor heads.  (This is what I see in my farm system.  I expect it is valid across wspace, but don't know.)   So, this setup will create about 2m R0s per day.

R0s are very bulky.  Each one is 0.01m^3; so we see that the production of a single day is 20000m^3.  That fills up your storage.  So, you'd have to tend a planet like this with a trip every single day.  Needless to say, nobody does this.  (Read on.)

Before we go on though, let's figure out how much this production is worth.  The R0 market is thin (exactly because hauling such massive volume to and fro is a loser), but the prices we see range from about 0.75 ISK to about 8, with perhaps 4 being average.  Assuming 4, we can see that our daily production is worth about 80m ISK, or about 2.4 billion per month.  Even going with the worst good (0.75 ISK), we find the value is 450m per month.  These values are much more than one can actually earn doing PI; what they reflect is the difficulty of moving bulky goods to market.  If you really carried 2m of any R0 good to the market per day, you'd crash the market for that good.  But it is interesting to see how the economics play out.  (Just making this computation makes me want to bring a bunch of R0s to market.)

P1 Production

Imagine a planet that is optimized to produce P1 goods.  The planet has 9 installations: extractor (10 heads), storage, 6 BIFs, launchpad.

Each BIF processes 6000 R0s per hour, producing 40 P1s.  Thus, 7 BIFs would be required to process the full output of an wspace extractor.  Generally I use 6, either because that planet has lower concentrations of resources, or I am not running the full 10 heads.  Also, since I plan to build in a storage facility per extractor to buffer, having a bit of extra production will often not be wasted.  In any case, let us assume that each planet is getting 240 P1s per hour.

Each P1 is 0.38m^3.  Thus, a day's production of P1s is 2189m^3.  Thus after four and a half days, a launchpad is filled up with roughly 26000 P1s.  Then I must fly there in a ship that can carry at least 10000m^3, and move them.

I can improve on this by building a second output launchpad.  Route three of the BIFs' outputs to this launchpad, and the other half to the original launchpad.  Then I can go about 9 days between visits.  It requires 20000m^3 to carry off the goods.

If I cannot arrive in a timely manner, I can still run for about a day.  This will fill the R0 storage.

P1s have a wide range of sale prices, from a low of about 100 ISK up to one that sells for 600 ISK.  Several better ones sell for around 400 ISK.  So assuming I produce the more valuable ones, my production on a pure P1 producing planet is around 69m ISK per month.  5 such planets produce 345m ISK -- more than half a PLEX.

P2 Production

Can I improve on the P1 production planet?  Yes.  The P1 production design has a small amount of spare power and a lot of spare CPU.  If I run only 9 input heads, I can add 3 AIFs, and still fit within the power limits of a level four command center.  Hopefully the 9 will still keep my 6 BIFs busy; I am assuming that they will.  And the AIFs will produce P2s.  Call it a P2 production planet.

On each P2 production planet, I bring 10000 P1s each time I visit, and put them down on the launchpad.  The three AIFs are used to manufacture P2s from this input along with the P1 that is being extracted locally.  The P2s produced are put back on the launchpad.  Per hour, each AIF inputs 40 each of both input P1 types, and produces 5 P2s.  5 P2s are smaller than 80 P1s, so they fit on the launchpad.  As time goes on, the volume stored on the launchpad slowly decreases.  Locally extracted P1s are being taken from the launchpad at exactly the rate they are being produced.  So there is neither a P1 buildup or shortage.

How long can a P2 production planet go without being attended?  Well, compared to the P1 production planet, I have not changed the production leading to the P1 launchpad: it has three BIFs feeding it.  So that launchpad will fill in the same 9 days as before.   These locally extracted P1s will be exported normally; they are the input P1s to some other P2 producing planet.

What about the P2 launchpad?  After 9 days, all 10000 of the imported P1s are exhausted. The launchpad has 3240 P2s on it.  These are the net outputs from the P2 production planet.

What happens if I do not remove goods in a timely manner?  I can still run for about 2 days.  This will place about 2000m^3 of P1s on the P2 launchpad.  The P1 launchpad is already full, so the system will back up and fill up the R0 storage.

P2s have a fairly wide range of output values, from a low of 2200 ISK to a high of 12000.  The better ones average about 8000; using this as our value, we compute a production of 86m ISK per planet per month.   For 5 planets, that is 430m ISK/month.

Can I improve on this?  Not without changing what installations I am running.  At least not in money terms -- money is only increased by running more installations. But I could push out the visitation time a bit, by bringing more inputs, and transferring some to the P1 storage, then drawing them from there.  (I leave this as an exercise to the reader.)  Although some gains could be made, I find the process fussy because it requires another expedited transfer, so I am not going to advocate it here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Gas Mining in Wspace For Newbies

[UPDATE, October 2014: I have a newer guide to gas mining in wormhole space.  Click that link.  Note that it assumes you've read this first.  So, read this and then click on that.]

Hunting that Venture reminded me of a guide I already wrote for newbies.  If you want to ninja mine in a wormhole, don't go after low-value minerals. Arkonor? It's there, but it really does not pay well. Not compared to gas.

Go after gas! Not all the gas, just the valuable gas.

Here's the fit you want:

[Venture, Gas Miner for Newb]

Emergency Damage Control I

Medium Azeotropic Ward Salubrity I
Incremental Magnetometric ECCM Scanning Array I
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I

Gas Cloud Harvester I
Gas Cloud Harvester I
Core Probe Launcher I, Core Scanner Probe I

Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I
Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I

This thing takes very little training -- less than 4 days. (Spend a few more to buff your scanning skills.) Yet it sucks gas as well as any ship in the game. Total cost is about 7m ISK. So you're not risking much. Mining wormhole gas (the good kinds) can be worth 20m per hour. More in higher class wormholes.

With a bit more training time, you can get Gas Mining V so that you can use Gas Miner IIs, for a substantial increase in mining rate.

How to use it: find a wormhole. Take this thing in there. Safe up. Turn on the ECCM for the duration of the time you are in wspace; ECCM makes you harder to scan down with combat probes. Not impossible, just harder. So you have to use d-scan to watch for probes. But the ECCM along with your already small signature should prevent anyone inexpert from scanning you down quickly, and it is the warning from seeing probes on dscan that you need. If you see such probes, bug out.

You also want to turn on your damage control and adaptive invulnerability shield, the entire time you're in wspace. Ventures have a good capacitor; use it.

Deploy your probes and search for signatures. You want ladar sites, and you want to select which ones. There is one site -- Ordinary Perimeter Reservoir -- that has sleeper sentries in it. Ignore this one unless you can bring in a combat ship to kill the sentries. However most ladar sites in wormholes don't spawn any sleepers until ~20 min after they are instantiated (which they are whenever they are first warped to). So, you can mine them for that initial period. You're "ninjaing" not just against the people living in the hole, but the sleepers!

Once you've got a ladar scanned down, look it up on eve survival (or just refer to this summary), to see which kinds of gas it has. You won't have time to mine both gas clouds (unless, again, you can bring in a combat ship which can kill the sleepers). So look up the prices on eve-central (here's a helpful link), and determine the better of the two types of gas that it contains. Got it? Keep it in mind.

Now warp to the site at 100. You don't know whether anyone has warped to it yet, and you don't want to plunk yourself down in the middle of already-spawned sleepers. Make a safespot close by as you decelerate from warp. If sleepers are already spawned, you can't mine it; bug out ASAP before they kill you. Otherwise, good. Bookmark the better gas cloud. (By the way, you did test out gas mining in highsec first, right? So you are certain that you've got gas clouds showing on your overview?) Warp out to your nearby safe and back into the just-bookmarked cloud.

Lock the cloud and start mining. Orbit the cloud at 500m -- being in motion does not affect your mining but it does make you much harder to gank and also harder for the sleepers to hit when they spawn. Now sit back and d-scan. You want to be hitting dscan at least once every 15 seconds to stay safest.  (Or, just don't.  Risky, but a lot easier to do.  Read a book.)  You can keep probing for other ladar sites, too. Just remember to do a dscan each time while your probes are moving then scanning.

After about 15 minutes you should pay more attention because the sleepers will be spawning soon. When they do, they will spawn in the middle of the site (at least on those I have run), so you will initially have some distance. But they can come fast, and the larger ones can hit hard at a distance. So be ready to GTFO.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Venture Goes South

(A post inspired by the adventures of Penny at  I learned how to scan by myself, a year ago.  I was inspired to hunt in wormholes by the Confessions of a Wormhole Killer.  But learned a few tricks from Penny!)

Artist's rendition of prey
Having run my circuit around Poinen, I am ready to hunt.  I jump in my cloaky PVP Tengu and set off to delve into several wormholes I have previously noted.  After several dry holes, I enter a wormhole I'd found earlier in Nomaa.  Dscan... and, bingo.  No towers on scan.  One Venture on scan.  I figure I have myself a gas miner.

I 'm at about 2000m from the wormhole, so I burn out beyond 2500, cloak, and warp off to an outer planet to launch probes.  There's a tower.  Is he from here?  Who knows.  Look for a better place.  One more warp to a second outer planet and: no tower, no ships.  All good.  Five probes away, and sent up above the system, copying Penny's method of blanket scanning a system.  (This bit I learned from reading tigerears.)  Now I move my probes up above the inner system, where the Venture is.  32au scan.  I've got a weak signal, 2%, on a ship.  Good.  I warp in to an inner planet and begin trying to use dscan to narrow down the Venture's location.

Woops.  He's no longer on dscan.  Is he in the system at all?  I consult my probes and the answer is no.  Either I somehow spooked him, or maybe he filled his hold.  The good news is at least he is not local -- if he was he'd be at the tower.  I will wait.  Meanwhile, I fly over to sit 15km off the wormhole out, to listen and watch for him (or anyone else) coming in.  And I start trying to probe down his ladar site.  I know very roughly where it is, so I hope I can scan it down before he gets back -- if he comes back.

I probe down to 8 au or so, and have two ladars starting to resolve in the area I think the Venture was in.  I am about to go for a 100% on one of the ladars, when....  pooooorgh!  Wormhole sound!  Is this the Venture coming back?  Yes, it's a Venture... it warps off.  Crap -- my probes are out!  I hastily recall them.  Did he see?

I guess he did not see.  Once again, I warp to the outer system to launch probes.  Probes out, and again placed above the system to blanket scan.  Sure enough, a 2% ship in the inner system.

I warp to a planet in the inner system, and start using dscan to find the Venture's rough location.  I get a reading toward the sun, about 8 au.  So I warp over to the sun.  Now I look around a bit.  I'm not that good at this process, and it takes me a while.  I do a full 360 facing the ecliptic with a 90 degree scan, and no ship in sight.  Probes say he is still there, though.  (And it stands to reason I have plenty of time, since he should be empty.)  Finally I think about looking straight up with 180 degrees.  Bingo.  OK, 90?  There.  30?  There.  15?  There.  5?  Not there.  Well -- 15 degrees is pretty good.  Now I determine range, which I have more experience with, and quickly determine he's about 1 au from me.  1 au, almost straight up.  I narrow the probes to 1au range, hoping this is enough to resolve a Venture to 100%.  Then I bring them down and place them right above me.  And... breathe! I scan.  Pshew... pshew... bingo!  Got a 100% on a Venture!  I recall the probes and warp at the signal.   Did he see?

I land on grid, and there is he is.  I uncloak and try locking, but fail in this for a few seconds.  (Either I was still in warp, or perhaps I uncloaked too late and had to wait.  Not sure.)  Eventually I get the lock started, and I overheat my assault launchers.  I don't bother with the warp disruptor because it has but one point of warp disruption, and I know my prey has two built-in.  If I am to get this kill, it is because he is too AFK and/or stunned to react quickly enough.  He starts to move, uh oh.  I web him.

I get just into armor, and he warps.  Immediately I warp to the wormhole, figuring that's where he must have gone.  I am right -- there he is.  I start to lock... and he's gone.  Oh well.  Kudos to you, young Venture pilot!  Well played!

Out of curiousity, I want to check out the site he was at to see what gas he was sucking.  Wait... what?  I don't have a ladar resolved at 100%.  Just some rocks.  I fly there -- yes, he was mining asteroids.  This is pretty funny -- probably the newb had no idea that mining rocks in wspace is piss-poor pay compared to sucking gas.

I wonder if he might be back.  I launch probes and scan a few sites down, but after about five minutes I realize this is a waste of time.  Time for bed, instead.

On POS Fuel Costs and the Price of Ice

As I discussed earlier, with Odyssey the price of ice is probably going up.  My guess is way up, although I have not estimated how much yet.  Without committing to a number, let's look at how much the price of POS fuel depends on ice.  I am using Amarr Fuel Blocks as an example, because I run Amarr towers.  However the same principle applies to all fuel types.

Currently at Jita, Amarr fuel blocks sell for between 14500 - 15300.  (That range is the highest buy order to the lowest sell order.)  For the purposes of our computation, I am going to take the low sell order as "the" price for all goods, so, 15300 isk.

How much of that value is due to ice, and how much comes from other stuff?  A fuel block is made from the following PI incredients: Coolant, Enriched Uranium, Mechanical Parts, Oxygen, Robotics.  In addition, the ice ingredients used are: Heavy Water, Liquid Ozone, and a kind of isotope.  For Amarr the isotope is Helium.  So, the goog tells me that one Goren Styne has already made a spreadsheet for POS fuel.  On the second page we find the info I want...
Amarr Fuel Block production costs, using numbers from today

(Note the razor-thin profit margin.  This is an awful business to be in.)  So now we experiment.  What happens if all ice products leap in price by a factor of 10?  You get this:
Here's what happens if ice products are 10x as costly
Ouch!  Price has just jumped by a factor of 6.4!  So we see that fuel costs are quite sensitive to ice costs.

What can we predict?  Well, I had not previously realized just how sensitive fuel prices are to ice prices.  (It's actually easy to see in the first spreadsheet, but you have to actually look at the numbers.)  It already costs a significant amount to run a POS.  If fuel prices sextupled, there are going to be a lot of POSes shuttered because they are no longer cost-effective.  So I do not expect anything like a 10x increase in fuel prices; that would be enough to reduce demand by 20% or more.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Statistics on Ice Mining, and Projections for Odyssey

How much ice is currently being harvested in highsec?  I am not aware of any real current data on this, but a year ago there was a spate of tweets from CCP Diagoras which contained this one:
Isotopes harvested in March? 2.67bn Nitrogen, 1.73bn Helium, 1.70bn Oxygen, 1.18bn Hydrogen.
Since these isotopes are products only of ice, we can back-compute the ice harvest.  Assuming that all ice was harvested in highsec (a close approximation to truth), there are 300 units of isotope per block.  So, over 31 days in March 2012, there were a total of 24.27 million blocks of ice harvested.  That averages out to 782.8 thousand blocks per day, or 32.6 thousand per hour.

a Mackinaw doing its thing
That's an impressive amount of ice.  A mackinaw going at it with full boosting from an orca can harvest almost one block a minute; a Hulk gets just over one block.  If we assume a ballpark figure of 1 block per ice-harvesting-ship per minute, 60 per hour, then the amount harvested suggests there were 543 ships across New Eden going at it 24/7.  (This seems a bit high to me, but with 25000 characters online at a time, it requires just over 2% of them.  Seems more reasonable in that light.)

How many ice belts are there in highsec?  Well, we can look them up at this site, finding as follows:
  •   White Glaze (Caldari): 30
  •   Blue Ice (Gallente): 23
  •   Glacial Mass (Minmatar): 17
And finally, Clear Icicle (Amarr space) currently has zillions of belts, but these will be drastically cut back as per the dev blog, to 24 systems with ice anoms.  It is unclear whether any of these systems will have more than one anom.  I am assuming one anom per system.

So, there will be a total of 94 ice anomalies in highsec.  CCP implies ice will be roughly the same in all of them, so we predict 8328 blocks harvested per site each day.  CCP apparently believes each anom will be harvested fully five times each day, so the total amount predicted per anomaly per spawn is 1665.

For all ice to be mined, 5x per day, each anom must be tapped out in 48 minutes.  Ice mining will double its rate in Odyssey, so we expect rates of about 2 blocks per minute.  Thus, to tap out an anom requires 18 fully Orca-boosted exhumers.

Routine Exploration

I have a routine of exploration these days.  My base is in Poinen (planet 5 moon 12), in the Forge.  Poinen has the nice property of being in the center of a constellation that is highly connected.  All of the systems in the constellation except for one (Olo) are directly connected to Poinen, but they also all connect to each other.  Thus, I can explore while staying close to my base in case I want to reship.  I leave my base, scan Poinen and hit sites in my exploration Tengu.  Radars get hacked.  Gurista signature sites get run, except for the Lookout (which allows in nothing larger than a destroyer).  I enter all wormholes that I find leading to wspace just to have a look.  Sometimes you can see ships from the wormhole, or even at it.  I bookmark all crap sites (drones, mags, rocks), wormholes, and Lookouts.  Occasionally I run an anomaly.

Then I go to Otela, Josameta, Liekuri, and Obanen and do the same.  All of these systems are one hop from Poinen, so that if I find anything in any of them that requires a different ship, I can hop over and reship quite quickly.  These days, I reship only for PVP (if I find someone in wspace), or occasionally to get my Worm for a Gurista Lookout.

If I have time, I can also hit Olo and Nomaa.

Once I have done a circuit, assuming I have found wormholes but not fully explored the systems lying beyond, I return to Poinen and reship into my PVP Tengu.  Then I redo the circuit, wormholes only.  Each one, I pop into wspace to see if anything is happening, and to look at the full system if I have not done that already.  Occasionally you see something interesting.

If I finish that, then I go back for another run of the circuit, exploring in my PVE Tengu.  The earlier bookmarks make this pass go a lot faster.