Friday, March 29, 2013

PI Challenge - Day 23

Results as of day 23:

Daily average profits are now at 4.28m isk.  We are getting close to the end.  No commentary today, just wanted to update the progress!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Battle of Hikkoken

Fweddit came to Hikkoken tonight.

Word came in that the Amarr Militia wanted to come over and fight.  I guess they needed a break from getting shoved around by the Minmatar?  However you look at it, they made it known when they wanted a fight, and we started preparing.  But not well enough.

We got about 30 pilots together, and sent out scouts.  Much bouncing through systems and plexes ensued.  As the Golden Glob was approaching one jump out, we learned they had significantly more numbers and organizations that we did.  10 logis, and another 50 or so cruisers.  We had about 5 logi and 20 cruisers with some frigates for fun.  A frantic align and warp got us out of Pyn and back into Nennemaila, and reshipping began.  ECM was added, the call was sent out, and we eventually got up to around 60 people.  Fweddit was nice enough to wait next door while we tried to make the fight more interesting.

After a bit too long a wait for some tastes, we undocked and flew to Hikkoken.  The dirty slavers had taken up residency in the Medium plex of the Cadlari pig-dogs, and we warped on in to have at them!  It started out nicely, but over time the greater logi support of Fweddit and their tighter organization began to win out.  Our target calling started well but broke down part way through the fight.  A few mistakes left our fleet a bit scattered on the field, and we reached the point where our DPS could not break the Fweddit reps.  Even though we could reship next door, the visiting team won the day.  To make matters worse, someone had the bright idea to put an fast locking Thrasher on the Nenn staition, and a few of us got podded while trying to reship.  Fweddit also had some ships that seemed to be dedicated to podding us out of the fight.  After my second cruiser went, I found myself in Athinard instead of Nenn, and that was it for the night.

A few lessons:
  • Fweddit was nice enough to let us even up the odds, but that's not the norm.
  • Signal calling is very important.  Both in this fight and a previous spat today, slow and/or confused target calling had an impact on the fight as a whole.
  • Keeping your fleet in a decent place for reps and targets is also key.  Getting ships strung out over 80km of space makes reps hard to manage.
  • Fleet doctrines and organization can make a huge difference.
Thanks to Fweddit for being good sports!  It was a fun fight, regardless of the outcome.  And double thanks to the Gallente logi pilots who kept my Thorax going far longer than it had any reason to.  That was awesome!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Week in Black Rise

We always hurt the ones we love...
I officially have a rank in the Gallente militia now, so I guess that makes me a totally legit faction
warfare pilot.  Right?  Guys?  Oh well...

I'm a week in to FW, and after missing fleets most of said week, I finally got in on some fun action tonight.  By fun, I mean I managed lie, cheat, point, and whore my way into some 17 kills, give or take, tonight, including my first solo killmail ever.  On a Condor that I'm pretty sure didn't know I was shooting him.  So that was awesome.

But the most interesting part of the evening wasn't my first solo kill during a fleet fight.  It was a particular Vexor gang that found out what happens when you linger too long in one place.  A mixed group of Fidelas Constans came for spin through Black Rise and got pincered between at least two Galente FW fleets and a whole bunch of folks who showed up.  It started out Innocently enough.  Chatter had been coming in about some FCON Vexor fleet that was tooling around in Enaluri and thereabouts.  This was met with mixed thoughts on my part, as the CFC has been sending some large battleship fleets through Black Rise, and foolhardy as I am, a lone Incursus is ill-suited to taking on a wing of much larger ships.

The fleet I was in was torn.  We had been chasing a group of Squids around for a while to varying degrees of success, and weren't sure if it was worth sending our small mixed frigate and shiny fleet up against the Vexors, which were known to be in the double digits.  Impatience and word of another FDU fleet stalking the FCONs pushed us over the edge in the end.

We jumped into Enulari, got a terrible warp in, and ended up burning towards a mixed FW fleet duking it out with the FCONs.  After much slowboating and warping in and out, the dust had settled, and the intoxicant-fueled Gallente fleets sorting out the wrecks hovering over the Enulari star.  Villore Accords, Monkeys with Guns., Sicarius Draconis, and a lot of unaffiliated FDU celebrated the accidentally-on-purpose death of a bunch of misappropriated Vexors.  I blame it on the Omen and Auguror FCONS brought.  We can deal with seeing Squid ships, but adding the Amarr to the mix with all those obviously stolen Vexors was an act too far to let even Squid hunting get in the way of.  They even had the temerity to bring a flight of purloined Thrashers!

We then celebrated with some low key gate camps that1 were wonderfully successful2.

I'm still failing at the very-small scale fights, but I'm starting to learn things, and not take all the damage in my face.  I'm starting to look at fits and understand some of the considerations that go into them.  Mostly, I'm learning to love the impromptu nature of FW roams, and the joyous risks taken in the name of finding things to shoot.

1 This wasn't even part of the camp, just stupid luck and fast responses by our fleet, which was docking at the time.
2 Nothing besides the cloak? Really?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

PI Challenge - Day 18

More results for you:

Up from 36m isk in profits to 72m isk.  The daily average profit is now at 3.6m/ day, or an end estimate of 108m isk, in profit.  Interestingly there is a side to this that I have not spoken of:  What you will profit not including the initial costs.  Since my initial outlay of about 33m isk, my daily costs have hovered around 1.5m, and my total sales are at 133m.  That means the profit only including day-to day costs is 106m, or 5.9m isk per day.  That gives a final profit, less sunk costs, of an estimated 177m isk.

So month one may be a bit of a bust, but subsequent months will be more profitable, by a considerable amount.  I'm interested to see how this plays out.

I also moved a lot of ECUs around today to combat depletion, which cost 315k isk.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Odyssey Mumblings, The First

Odyssey is upon us.  As much as I’d love to make a crack a Jester’s great caravan of the stars, there are some other ideas I’d like to spin out a little.  With the hints in CCP’s release at PAX, there’s plenty of opportunity to speculate and put on our tinfoil hats!  I'll put some posts up over the next few days regarding the topics announced in at PAX, and my thoughts regarding those topics.  Today I want to talk about exploration a bit.

Discovery scanning.  We have no idea what it is.  I can hope that it is a system that makes the process of scanning sites down more enjoyable.  Currently the dedicated explorer is pigeon holed into a few core concepts.  You need a scanning ship, either a CovOps or a T3 fit properly.  If you are serious about beating the competition, you probably also have another account with a combat cruiser, again likely a T3, flying with you to jump into those sites as soon as you find them.  The choice of useful ships is rather limited, and the fitting requirements to take advantage of those ships narrows the selections even more.  The skills needed to fly the narrow range of suitable ships are not insubstantial.  The skills to utilize the sites are very specific and often have no use outside scanning.

This is not bad, per se.

What is ugly, however, is the capricious nature of scanning and the tedium of finding and resolving signatures.  It usually requires a notepad and some patience.  So how can CCP improve things?

First, I’d love to see a change to the dynamics of what ships are allowed into resolved sites.  Specifically, I’d like to see the mechanics work so that if your ship can scan it, your ship can go inside.  There’s nothing quite like finding a handful of sites in a system, and learning that your cruiser, battlecruiser, or T3 isn’t allowed in.

Second, I’d like to see dedicated exploration ships that can fit some of the scanning gear without severely sacrificing the ability to complete the sites.  While this is primarily true for combat sites, there is only one CovOps that can fit all the modules needed for a scanning roam without needing to dock up to switch modules.  Obviously there are balance issues, as giving a cruiser PvE or PvP tank and gank AND scanning would break aspects of combat scanning.  But giving each race a cruiser hull with a few more mid slots and scanning bonuses would go a long way towards making solo scanning roams more feasible.  Perhaps make cloaks and probe launchers a dedicated hardpoint?  Perhaps just change the way high-slot hardpoints work by adding specific role-only slots?

Third, and tied directly to the first two, scanning needs to be made more possible for solo roamers.  A dedicated scanner should be the fastest and best option, and PvE and PvP fits should excel at those tasks, but reasonable balance should exist that makes scanning and completing sites a one-ship, one-account activity.

Fourth, the scanning mechanics need a tweak.  Saved probe formations.  Ship-board logging of sites you have resolved or are working on resolving even if you leave the system or need to dock.  My ship can hand a neural-interface, route through all of known space, and control weapons, navigation, scanning, targeting, and EWAR at the same time.  It can’t remember how I launch my probes or the data loaded in the scanning system if I close the window?  And as for the D-Scan, if it can figure out what something is and how far away it is, why can’t I warp to that point in space?

Fifth, and most contentious in my mind, is that scanning should be less random in the rewards received.  Nothing saps my will to scan like clearing through a half dozen systems and getting nothing for days on end, only to hit the jackpot once in a blue moon.  I'd love to see low end rewards boosted with a corresponding reduction in high end rewards.  If exploration is to be a viable career in Eve, like mission running or industry, there needs to be a more dependable income stream that comes from it.

I'm sure some of these ideas are not feasible, and others, such as ships I consider suitable for scanning and completing sites and rewards, are open to debate.  But there are many changes CCP could enact to make exploration more interesting overall, and more enjoyable and accessible.  

Friday, March 22, 2013


I tried to go to Luminaire today, but alas, it was not to be.  A fleet of us got together, sorted out logistics, spooked some camps along the way from FW LS to Dodixie, and then we watched the Live Feed of the Luminaire event.  Once the Leviathan was at about 30% shield, we said screw waiting, let's go.  We had been holding back to see if the null sec fleets would pound each other down, but that was not to be.

We got to the Pettinck-Luminaire gate at were locked out.  For a while.  While watching hundreds of ships orbit a gate on the lowest graphical settings was a new experience for me, it was less than enthralling.  I honestly had more fun playing cat and mouse to move some Caldari gatecamps out of the way earlier.  We were making the route safe for some of our lowsec pilots to rally up.

As I was sitting at the gate, idly punching the jump button to see the error message, the gate briefly unlocked, and I was pulled through all by my lonesome.  My Myrmidon was immediately, although languidly, target, scrammed and popped by the fine members of various branches of the Goonswarm.  TiDi gave me a wonderful slow motion experience.  On the plus side I got my pod out.  Yeah, those Navy Cap Boosters were from the active tanked fit that I dropped for plates to use with our logi.  Who were having a grand old time on the other side of the gate.

I warped off, and a very odd thing happened.  Because I had somehow accrued the combat timer that prevents jumping, even though I was targeted and fired upon first (someone tell me what I don't understand about aggression mechanics, please!), I had to bounce around Luminaire in TiDi for a few minutes before trying to escape.  My pod, while in warp, told me I was being warp scrambled, and I was taking pod damage.  So I picked another celestial and started spamming the warp button.  In a very odd collection of moments, I went from being scrammed while in warp to being scrammed while in warp in a completely different direction.  I don't even know how this is possible.  If I am warping, I'm not targetable, or scrammable, I think.  Much less able to take damage.  But all these things occurred at the same time!

I got out.  I went back to Dodixie.

So overall, the whole Luminaire event was a bust for me.  No chance to see the Leviathan, although I was watching the feed.  I heard it went down.  Cool beans, but what else would happen?  It is Gallente space, after all.  The whole experience left me wondering about a few things:

Eve's interface for large scale events is terrible.  The hostiles I tried to target and interact with on the Luminaire Gate were so lost in the overview that the ships popped or warped before I could do anything.

On the Luminaire side, the gate camp was a clusterfuck, in multiple ways :).  I knew I would lose the Myrm, and that's fine.  I just had no chance to really respond to anything.  It took getting halfway through armor before I could lock or launch drones or fire.  I also incurred the aggressor tag somehow, even though I was locked, scrammed, TP'd and taking damage before I locked anyone.  I probably don't understand aggression in Eve well enough at this point, but it seems silly.

The overview really can't handle large events, either.  I have a few tabs set up just to sort friendlies, hostiles, war targets, etc.  It was still useless today.  The pod-saver tab worked, only because it has nothing in it save for planets, gates, and the sun.

From a player participation side, the system locks and lag and TiDi kind of ruined the whole experience.  Great kudos to CCP for doing this event.  I love the idea, I anticipated the hell out of it.  They publicized it, the community got behind it.  But in execution it pretty much fell flat.  The rest of my fleet never jumped through, and eventually turned around to regroup and head back to Low Sec.

Maybe next time, CCP should look at spreading such events out.  Make various fleets have to choose from a number of systems to engage in.  This would make the whole thing less node-intensive, and reduce the player counts in each system.  With one spot where everyone wants to go, the infrastructure ground to halt, and the larger blocs got to run much of the show.  Even more people were just stuck sitting at gates.

Overall, I'm glad the event happened, but I was hoping to play some role besides killmail fodder.  Cheers to anyone who got in and took part!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tackling Tempests and Trailing Tengus

Close only counts...
A few days into faction warfare, and I'm fleeting up and roaming around.  Today I'll give a three informal after action reports of situations that didn't work.

Tricky Tengus

On a roam starting in Nenn, intel told us a pair of Tengus were running mission sites a few systems over.  We take a look at our fleet, mostly frigs and destroyers, and decide that between an Arazu and some tacklers, we had a chance to sneak a point in and hold at least one Tengu long enough to get the rest of us in.

Operations commence with the fleet holding on gate outside the Tama system, home to our pair of would-be kills.  They don't appear to notice anything aside from one fleet member warping through system.  We get cloaked eyes into the mission room.  Then it comes to light that the Tengus have a Buzzard hanging out off-gate watching traffic.  This doesn't seem to be a problem, as we just need to sidle our tackle in and then once point is accomplished, the Buzzard is irrelevant.

Then a fleet mate jumps the gate.  The Tengus spook and dock up.  Good game.  The moral of this story the importance of fleet discipline.  We were just about ready to get our tackle in on the targets, from another gate that the Buzzard couldn't see.  One nervous jump ruined the planning, and the glorious killmail we might have scored.  My killboard efficiency would have skyrocketed!

2 v 1... then 2... then 3... then None.

5 or 6 of us are holding at a small outpost, after clearing out the pesky squids that had been hanging out there.  A second outpost had a few hostiles.  In a sane world, the gang would align as a unit and warp in, grabbing points and taking targets out while FC calls them.  Eve is not a sane world.  I was unsure what was going on.  A hesitant newb, I was holding on the plex while one, then two, then three members warped off in staccato fashion.  I was waiting for the FC to give the go ahead.  He realized what was happening, and simply said "Ok, how many people still have ships in local?"  Turns out we were down three ships, with nothing to show.

We had more force, more ships, but not better timing.  Again, discipline was the key missing factor between feeding a choppy line of kills to the foe and clearing the field.  I blame the ease with which we had mopped the previous complex.  That nice high of dropping your gang on a target and managing the field carried over into overconfidence and sloppy execution.

Twin Tempests

The frigate roam continues!  We spot two Tempests chilling at the gate to a complex.  We manage to hold discipline, warp in, land tackles, and most of us orbit under the Tempest guns.  I'm in a long-point Atron, so my job is mostly holding one of the Tempests.  Things are going fine until they go pear shaped.  Drones come out and start taking a toll.  A few frigs are orbiting too far out, and are taking fire from the 800mm shells the Tempests are raining upon us.  Eventually I realize I have a stack of drones chipping away at my armor at alarming speed.  I burn out, as things are falling apart.  I manage to make it out of scram range in deep structure and warp out.  The Tempests hold the field, with one nearly out of hull.

A few things went wrong.  A few frigs managed to orbit into those 800mm shells.  I failed to focus on the drones soon enough to mitigate the incoming damage.  This fight was far from a given on either side.  Had we downed one of the battleships while losing our hulls, it would have been a victory, but we came up just short.  Perhaps I should have kept my blasters on the Tempest, and perhaps I should have targeted drones sooner.  Both would have eliminated half of the incoming damage or more.  This was a better managed fight, but still eluded us.


I had some victories today as well, a few kills that padded my efficiency.  I got part of a kill in my first pirate act in Eve.  A fellow militia mate and I fell to an obvious mismatch out of stubborn anger and honor.  It was a good day overall.  I look forward to the next.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

PI Day 11

Here's the update:
Trending a little bit better.  I got the Precious Metals output a bit higher, and now Chiral Structures are the rate limiting factor.  This means I'm pulling in an extra 1.4m or so per day on Enriched Uranium sales.  The POCO taxes have taken about 16m in profits at the 10% high sec rate.  That's not 10%.  That's an effective tax rate of about 18%.

They get you coming and going!  Interstingly, the tax rates are pegged to old values, with P1s going for 50isk/unit and P2s going for 900isk/unit, and P3s for 7000isk/unit.  This results in interesting tax rate anomolies as shown above.  There are a few errors, as I lumped a few things together in the beginning and I can't sort the out now.  Stupid March 11.  But the overall tax rate of 18% is correct.  If I had no taxes, I'd be at about 51m in profit 11 days in.

Edit:  My original effective tax chart was poorly formatted.  I updated it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Day, Another Incursus

I like the Incursus.  It's a nice little ship that looks pretty and seems to hold up well in small matches.  And I got another kill in one today.  Nothing fancy about it.  In fact, he got the drop on me because I was sitting in a plex, looking at three different chats and comms trying to figure out where the damn fights were.  And then the fight was targeting me.  We danced for a while, and as often happens, some other militia came in while we were jockeying for position.  Much like last time, I had him in a bit of armor, he had chipped away at my shields.  I find it terribly difficult to manage my screen,  but I'm trying to get the spiral approach down and it seems to be working a little.  At least based on relative shields and armor in the brief 1v1 situations I've been in.  So that was fun.  I'm starting to realize how janky the drone control system is though.  Ugh.  I have to stop forgetting to launch drones.

After that, I tried to fleet up for a while which was a mixed bag.  No offense to non-American english speakers, but system names and abbreviations are giving me a headache, at least for now.  I'm over in Nennamaila most of the time, looking for fights, and the weird adjacent systems seems to be french in origin, and whatever the heck Caldari names are based on.  And I now know what OMS means.

But about fleets.  I joined the rolling Gallente Militia fleet a few times today, with very little to show for it except an unfortunate Tusker who warped into a plex not realizing we had about 13 cruisers and frigs waiting.  That stabber didn't take long to go down, and we obliged his goal of finding a way to rid himself of a hull.  I almost didn't make it on the kill it happened so fast.  Aside from that, I missed the few larger fights, and am starting to see the odd dance in FW fleet combat.  No one wants to get rolled, so any time a larger fleet rounds itself up and goes out for a stroll, it seems like the skies are empty.  Makes sense.

I also missed out on a few fights due to poor positioning and timing.  Such as a group of Ruptures landing on Nenn station.  I docked up, in my solo Incursus, only to undock in time to see one of our pilots in an Archon, mopping up 30km off station and plenty of friendlies plinking away.  I just couldn't burn out fast enough to engage.

A Swarm Interlude

How can you not love a face like that?
I just finished Heart of the Swarm's campaign.  You know, that expansion to some game called Starcraft 2?

The Good:

It's fun.  The campaign on normal is a little bit on the easy side, but it's a fun romp through a middling revenge tale.  The units all seem to have a point and purpose.  Expanding a Zerg base is fun, and expanding the creep is wicked fun.  I have mild OCD about spreading the creep across the entire map, every time.  The cutscenes are pretty, if sometimes silly.  Kerrigan, your main heroine, gains abilities and gets to customize her swarmlings as the campaign progresses, which provides satisfying variations.  Those are all variations on swarm the enemy with lots of bugs, but it's a fun theme to play variations on.  The various mission types are a nice variation on build-swarm-repeat, with timed missions, control point and DOTA inspired elements showing up in various places.

The Bad:

Streaming cutscenes are annoying as crap.  I never got a high quality cutscene in my entire playthrough.  If you leave the game, the downloader apparently stops downloading.  Some of the load times are interminable, with no indication of how long remains.  Some of the pacing for side missions is questionable, and being a completionist results in weird breaks of the narrative progress.  Some load screens seem randomly placed, especially when you are chilling on the Leviathan between missions, click on the spawning pit, and a load screen pops up.

The Ugly:

The first cutscenes with Raynor and Kerrigan.  Ugh.  I have a hard time seeing the Queen of Blades going all googly-eyed for anyone.  If you play through the campaign, you'll pretty much know what the final expansion is about, which ruins a little bit of suspense.  And since we probably have 2+ years until that campaign, a little suspense would have been nice.  Overall, the plot was cool if uninspired.  Also, there is a whole mission that is pretty much a race to see which hero can charge to OVER 9000, DBZ style.

Random Thoughts:

It seems that all three races have people that understand there is a big picture, but then everyone ignores that big picture in the name of Kerrigan's revenge.  I'm sure every Terran who lived on the planets Kerrigan wipes out understands that millions of dead is totally worth killing Mengsk.  Does any bit player in the world know or care that he's a lying bastard?  And at this point I think Kerrigan has killed more people than Mengsk anyway, so the whole thing gets rather Korean-gun-fu-revenge-story where everyone loses.

Why are the ancient primal Zerg so damn stupid, after millenia of implied development?  Why do all Terrans of any importance wear shoulder pauldrons large enough to serve a turkey on?  Why is that one primal zerg dude killing humans and talking about collecting their essence, when he states he cannot collect human essence?  Why do Mutalisks flap their wings in space?  Why does no one ever listen to Zeratul, ever?  Has the dude ever lied or led someone down the wrong path?  Why does every character have to hit, shoot, torture or otherwise display force to process any information?

But seriously, it's fun.  I laughed out loud more than a few times playing through the missions.  More fun that I remember Wings Of Liberty being.  If you already have SC2, just grab HotS and waste a weekend.  Zerglings will make you happy inside.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Warring with the Factions

A few nights ago I had my first foray into faction warfare.  I spent a few days moving ships and assets out of Caldari space to new high sec mothball hangar in Gallente space, bought and contracted a bunch of ships to my new low sec home, and while waiting for the bulk of my supplies to arrive, I hopped into a few ships and took the not-so friendly stars of Black Rise.

The first thing that happened was this.  I warped around Nennamaila for a while and ended up in a small complex, I think that's what it was, and starting orbiting the structure with a timer.  That seemed like the logical thing to do, right?  Shortly thereafter, my new friend warped in.  He had an Atron, I had a Incursus, I figured why not?  Cut to a rather long chase, with me cycling between webs and reps, struggling to keep the Atron in range after my poor drone had turned to space dust.  I'd gotten him to structure, and had a solid scram on him, but this was taking forever!  My Gallente militia mate happend into the room at that point, and a few more shots from his Condor tipped the tide.  Queue me saying "First PVP kill EVAR!" in local, gfs all around, and a sense of accomplishment.
"I found a target!  Oh, never mind,
I'll be back once I find a new ship..."

Then we come to this.  A pile of hostiles pop into local, but not militia war targets.  Ok, I'll keep orbiting my button.  Probably some people passing through, as had been going on all night.  I see a warning in local from a militia mate, then TEST said hello.  I get a little overwhelmed, and fail to warp out fast enough because I'm a nub with poor combat navigation skills, lose the poor Incursus (She was so damn happy after that last fight!), then lose my pod.  Good news:  I just created a new clone, and put in much cheaper implants.  Bad news: I need to redefine cheap, and I learned my medical clone's home was in Caldari space.  Good call, me.  A ship worth 10m isk, implants worth about 46m, and my clone itself, which is now worth about 43m.  Yeouch.  I need to learn not to lose my pod!

And last, I can't post, because the KM was never put up on the boards, but I lost an Algos to two Harpies because of stupid.  I thought the Condor with me was warping in, saw the "Don't" in local, realized I had no point to keep the Harpies off me and let those sexy drones do damage, and poof.  Got my pod out this time though!  Most of this I realized in hindsight.  The lesson is always make sure your fellow pilots are planning on engaging.  After that I was out of ships and adrenaline for the night, although it seems my hero antics proceeded to escalate a small brawl that had the good fights going all around local a few minutes later.  So I'll take that as a victory, and stop flying destroyers for a while.

All in all, a very fun night.  I just waiting on the rest of my ships to get in, and then MOAR FIGHTINGS!

PS - Shoutout to Alamar Caledane, for being all friendly my first night out.  And the title of the blog, he helpfully told me, will get me killed.  Yep.  That's the joke, if you didn't get it.

Ugh - PI Challenge - Day 8

Just a quick update on the PI challenge.  I've made lots of tweaks to max out extraction.  Last update, I was at about -9.3m isk on the whole affair.  Today's total running numbers:
I broke into the black!  And so far, over 8 days, I've averaged a little over 2 million per day in profit.  In revenue, I've averaged about 8 million.  8m x 30 days is 240m isk.  For the 500m isk goal, this thing is probably going to be a complete failure.  Assuming no more costs, I'll be surprised if I get much past the 200m mark.

Some mid-challenge analysis.  In 2.5 hours, while working on other stuff, I went mining today.  The sales from that were 29.3m isk.  On another front, I ran a max run of Phased Plasma L ammo.  That sold for 18m isk.  So in less than the time it took me to do a week's PI, I netted 47m isk into my pocket, for less actual effort than the PI.  I have no idea what that ammo cost me to make, because the materials were lying around, but there you have it.

This brings up a bigger question:  What is the most enjoyable way to secure income in only high sec space?  So far PI is ranking very low.  It's active playing when I'm doing it, unlike mining.  It lacks the explosions of mission running.  It's more intensive than manufacturing.  There is training time to consider, but based on where I stand in the game so far the PI challenge has been more frustration than fun, and the perceived effort of this PI setup is tedious at best.

Tomorrow: My first foray into Faction Warfare!  Teaser:  I'm terribad!

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Downward Spiral of Depletion

Warning, this post contains many charts.

Edit: Thanks for the link Mabrick!

First:  Mabrick stated this in my last comments section:
You have extra R) and P1? The way I deal with extra R0 and P1 is to not have any. That may seem a bit arrogant, but hear me out. Robotics is a 2 extractor, 4xP1 and 2xP2 production chain - per planet. When you get to Elite command centers it will be easier to do, but you should aim for 2 extractors each pulling 288,000 m3 of R0 with 2xP1 facilities per R0 type and 2xP2 facilities to take their product. You then have to move one of the P2 products to another planet to make the Robotics. I move Mechanical Parts to my Lava worlds where I have on additional P3 facility in my setup. Precious Metals is typically the weakest producer across all the planets I've run and that's why I produce Robotics on the Lava worlds. All three Lava planets process 1/3 of my Robotics each. I use no silos and I try and keep a day's worth of R0 in each Landing Pad as a buffer. To keep this working as stated, I actively adjust my extractors to make sure I don't over produce, even if that means I remove heads and have grid left over. It's just easier that way to me. 
To answer, in short, I don't have Elite Command Centers.  The long version is my planets, even after removing the storage facilities I didn't need, cannot support the mixed production chain he is describing.  In part due to CPU/PG, in part due to low resource distribution.  I am curious to know what planets exist in HS that could support his approach based on resource density.  I'm sure they do, but trying to find the 5-6 planets needed (3 barren, 3 lava), in one system, and also near whatever else you happen to be doing in Eve, seems like chasing after Enigmas.  Below is an example of the resources on one of my planets.  You can argue about ECU placement, but even if I consolidate to one ECU with 10 heads, I end up at about the same production, and then can't afford the chain Mabrick is describing.
Second:  Extra P1s are looking to be saving grace of my setup.  I can sell those excess materials.  In my mind leaving them on the table is lost isk.  I'll have numbers to show this later.

Third:  I lied.  I used Mabrick's advice in a different way.  Precious Metals are killing me.  So I played around and realized I have PMs on my factory planet.  Down goes an ECU head, fed into my production line to bolster production a little bit.  Not glamorous, but it should add a little margin.  Unfortunately, I've hit a wall in that I can't keep even one Robotics line going at this point.  See the image below to see the link going off to the ECU, and the current supplies inside the launchpad on my factory planet that supplies the whole P2>P3 chain.
It's lonely in here...
You need 288,000 * 2 units on each R0 to keep one robotics line going.  At capped out Command Centers on my Planets, here is what I am getting, with ECUs set to provide coverage of the best hotspots on the planets:
I'm making up the difference on P2s and P1s that are overproducing the rate limiting R0 (Noble Metals > Precious Metals):
So here is where we stand today:
For the complainers, I know sales tax probably shouldn't be included in costs, but I haven't bothered fixing everything yet.  This is feeding into a nice overall graph that will come later, and I haven't fixed that part yet.  But regardless of the -336,198.31 isk in sales tax, we're still in the red.  Production is slowing down considerably. I went from over 100 units of robotics a day down to 54.

I'll try to come up with a way to increase R0s, but it may take a few days.  The next two days are busy real-life wise.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Ever Increasing Complexity - PI Day 2

In response to my own questions from last post regarding the shortcomings of my production as it was implemented, I went looking at how to use the excess resources from my over-producing R0>P1 planets.  If you are running 4 planets to get the materials for Robotics, you end up with an imbalance among the following P1s:
  • Chiral Structures
  • Precious Metals
  • Reactive Metals
  • Toxic Metals
These in turn can be used to create a variety of P2s:
  • Consumer Electronics (used in Robotics)
  • Mechanical Parts (used in Robotics)
  • Enriched Uranium
  • Construction Blocks
For nice list of all the PI flow charts, take a look at this.  So the question I had to answer was how can I take my excess PI products and make them profitable, and easy to get to market?  The answer, I think, lies in looking at market prices for the P1s and comparing those to the prces for the various potential P2s, and making the P2s which are worth more than the P1s you started with.  Given the high rate of import and export taxes, this is not a trivial calculation.  I'll let you run your own numbers, but I was able to find a solid excess line, and factor in the estimated overproduction of P1s that are worth more than their P2s, and came up with something like this:
I haven't fixed the costs, so expect the import/export to take roughly 10% off each of the non P3s (i'm keeping it at 10% for simplicity, and to account for increased profit as you go up the chain), you get this
Huh.  We are back at roughly 500m isk, and that's with 5 planets instead of 6, and without Elite Command Centers.  Maybe my doom and gloom from yesterday was a bit premature.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

PI Challenge Day 1 Part II

Although it's another day for me, it's the same Eve day, so this goes into the first day, hence the Part II.

I took the first batch of Robotics to market.  111 units to be exact.  I also removed some storage facilities and added some ECU Extractor heads on my low yield planets.  I've adjusted the tracking sheet to account for a few more things.  Here are the results from my labors:

Back of the envelope calculations show this scheme, if static for the next 29 days, will yield the following:
Hmm.  We might have a problem here. At roughly 5/6 capacity of Mabrick's approach, we are looking at about 30% of his estimated income.

I found I could add a second production line on the factory planet, which accounts for the increase in Construction costs.  But I am not sure high sec planets will be able to keep two robotics lines fed.  The resource density on one of the planets is already starting to take a hit, and cannot feed 4 R0 > P1 factories.  That means I may not be able to keep even one robotics line running at full capacity.

For reference, one Robotics line running at capacity for one month will produce 2160 (24 hours * 3 units * 30 days), and two lines will produce 4320.  At current Jita buy prices of 81,000 isk per unit of Robotics, before accounting for import and export taxes, that equates to roughly 175m to 350m isk in sales per month.  Setting up sell orders increases the price by 1,000 isk per unit, giving 177m to 354m isk.

Perhaps selling extra materials on one end will make up the difference?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mabrick's PI Challenge Day 1

I set up all the planets for the challenge, 3 barren, 2 lava, and have the production planet going.  I also have a sheet set up to track the costs by line item.  I loves me some Excel!  Without further ado, here are the costs incurred in buying the command centers, setting up the planets (including a few mistakes in placing and rebuilding PI buildings), and transferring the first production loads from the resources planets to the production planet (also including one mistake):

The Customs Office interface is still horrible, and you can easily transfer crap back to a planet when you think you are loading it to your ship.  Why?  Because CCP decided that the CO inventory screen should not be part of the unified inventory.  That's great.  That cost me about $500k isk.  Remember to open your ship inventory and drag the items from to CO to there, and not hit the Transfer button.

The PI interface still leaves important info out of the equation when placing buildings.  So if you click the wrong facility, you cannot check what it makes until after you spend the money on it once you are in that process.  Yes, I could right click, show info, and then choose and place it.  Perhaps the Build Panel could include a PX > PY note right on the screen.  So be careful if you are setting this stuff up.

Accounting note:  My production planet came online on Eve-day 3/8/13, so the challenge will run until I sell products made withing 30 days of 3/8/13.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Objects in Space

Note: This is old material, sitting in my draft bin for a long period of time.  The links are also to the old articles that got me thinking.

Why should ships log off when players log off?  This has always interested me in Eve.  My understanding of the current mechanic is that, aside from timers, if you log off while in space, you go into a "warp stasis", where your ship is apparently in a pocket dimension that you mysteriously come back from when you log back in.  From a technical standpoint, I can sort of understand this.  There are already enough objects in space on the server.  But perhaps if you log off while in space, your ship should stay where you left it?

This would fit with the ideas behind stations and POSes.  Stations are where you go to get out of your ship, get other ships, trade, and so on.  Stattions are also the only almost completely safe space in Eve.  No one can blow up your ship while it's docked.  In space where stations do not exist, POSes fulfill this role with hangars and force fields.  Would anyone leave a valuable ship sitting in a WH outside the POS shields?

From a PvP perspective, this would make all sorts of logging strategies effectively worthless, unless you felt safe leaving a ship at deep safes and assuming no one would come find you.  It would eliminate the idea of invisible campers in WH space, assuming the residents actually took the time to use combat probes.  It would also require gate campers to actually show their presence in space instead of hiding in the warp stasis bubble.

As for what happens to a logged out ship floating in space, there are options.  I imagine the status of the ship would be to continue running whatever modules were active when you logged.  So many ships would eventually cap out, then drift once recharged.  The biggest problem I see is the problem of what happens to your velocity.  It would cause problems to have ships just... fly forever.  So maybe you program autopilot AI that says if a plaer is logged out for X minutes, the ship finds the nearest celestial and warps to it.  You could even give people the option of what celestial, or station, and what distance to choose, and if docking is completed.  You'd probably need a default of 1000km from the nearest planet if none of the player options are available to deal with station docking rights and WHs, but there could be a system.

All of this is to say that the whole log off in space mechanic in Eve seems to be a throwback to computing limitations.  In many ways, the log of mechanics still provide some rather big bugbears.  Gate camps and WH squatters come to mind.  Would it hurt to have objects in space become a little more persistent?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Precocious Pod-Dweller Planetary Puzzle Day -1

As mentioned, I am giving Mabrick's proposition a shot.  From the latest post, there a few things I am unsure of, namely, if his 500m isk/month claim was based in HS or WH space.  But, here are the conditions of my experiment:
  • Skills:  
    • Command Center Upgrades 4 
    • Interplanetary Consolidation 4 
    • Planetology 2 
    • Remote Sensing 3
  • Production
    • Final Product: Robotics
  • Planets:
    • 2 Barren R0 > P1
    • 2 Lava R0 > P1
    • 1 Barren Production Planet P1 > P3
    • All planets are in one High Sec system with standard Customs Office rates.
A few other notes.  I am not taking up the challenge as presented mainly because I don't want to move the alt, and it has about 30m skill points.  Those are almost entirely in mining, production, and recently combat.

Here are the Planetary Management skills, IC 4 will be done soon:
Here are the planets, pending the production planet due to IC 4:
Here is the pattern used for all of the R0 > P1 planets:
You'll notice that the extractors are much further from storage than Mabrick indicates.  This is because HS planets have crap for resource distribution, so the R0 > P1 chain is located central to the hotspots I judged to be closest together on each planet.  Notice the bands I used on the scanner, to give you an idea of the resource density here:

Mabrick contends that something around 500m isk is viable each month.  Many readers disagreed.  Given my skills, I'll shoot for 50%-75% of his estimate.  Thats 250m to 375m isk in one month.  I'll start my timer from the day I get the production planet up and running.  I am going to have ~2 days of P1 production already created by the time that happens, but given the nature of resource depletion, I'll use them and consider it to be a wash.

Initial Costs:
  • Setup of 4 planets with level 5/6 Command Centers: $23,720,000.03.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mo' Planets, Mo' Problems

As mentioned previously, I am rather space-broke at the moment.  To me this means less that a few hundred million isk in my account, above what is earmarked for purchases.  So I've started two endeavors:

The first is a relaunch of the 30 Day Market Challenge.  I messed up the start already, after seeding 20 mil, I noticed I had about 70 mil in modules from the last go-around.  Stupid numbers making accounting hard.   I'm aiming to clear 10% margins each day, at least up to the billion isk range.  We'll see how it goes.  Preliminary actions in Jita seem to indicate margins have gotten tighter on just about everything since the same time last year.  As long as the isk flows, I'll be happy.  Not sure about daily updates, it may be more of a when I feel like it thing.

The second project is based on a post over at Mabrick's.  He seems convinced that HS planets can rake in 100m isk a week.  I'm starting with 5 planets, and a lower level of command center upgrades, but I'll be posting my results over the next few days.  You can all judge based on that.  We'll call this one the Precocious Pod-dweller's Planetary Puzzle.   Or something.

Once the prelims are taken care of on the money front, I'll be making good on my overtures to join FW.  I have the good fortune of having an old real life friend involved in a decent position in one of the factions, so I can jump right in with some larger actions once I get ships moved about.

Monday, March 4, 2013

30 Day Market Challenge Wrap Up

This is meant to be a moderate guide for anyone looking to try and make some money station trading in Eve.  I will not go into arbitrage, which is buying in one region and hauling to another, nor is this about industry.  The main focus is making money in stations.  Station trading is the act of placing buy orders above the competition, then selling the goods from those buy orders as sell orders.  The profit is the margin between your (high) buy price and your subsequent (low) sell price.

Time Required

I am a graduate student.  This means I have the luxury of being able to carry a laptop with me all day and periodically (every few hours) log in and check my orders on the market.  At minimum you want to check your orders in the morning, once or twice during the day, and in the evening.  I personally like to check my orders one last time before bed, as that lets you get below or above other US TZ players that may have already turned in for the day.  This obviously changes based on your TZ.  The more you can update, the more successful you will be.  Updating orders takes about 5 to 10 minutes.


How much do you know about Eve?  If you know what most of the modules do, you will be in a good position to understand which modules to buy.  If you do not understand modules, I suggest you enter the Eve blog community or talk to your corp mates.  Understanding how many units to sell and how many an individual buyer might buy is good.  Weapons usually go in sets, for example 7 missile launchers fit on a Drake.  Propulsion mods are only needed once per ship.  Learn this stuff.

Once you understand the mods, there is a wonderful feature in game called Market History.  There are two views, a table and a graph.  The graph is not very useful in my opinion, outside of looking at the historical trend of an item.   What Large Shield Boosters sold for last January is not useful for a day trader.  The direction it is trending is.  The table shows how many items sold each day, and the low and high values that item sold at.  The quantity traded should be over 50, and the margin should somewhat reflect the spread you see in the buy and sell orders in normal view.  Also pay attention to the high and low values.  If they are near each other, and near either the current buy or sell price, odds are the action on the item is slanted towards either buying or selling.  You don;t want to go in on an item that is only selling or only buying.  You cannot flip that item.

WTF?  Useless...

That's useful.

This brings us to margin.  Simply put, margin is the difference between the highest sell order and the lowest buy order.  The spread is probably the most you profit on the item.  In reality profit will be less, as you will raise the buy order price and lower the sell order price over time, and eat away at that initial margin.  Taxes and transaction fees will also reduce the margin.  In my estimation, margin of less than about 10% is probably not going to make you much unless you have amazing skills.


You will need, at minimum, the following:
  • Trade 4
  • Retail 4
  • Accounting 4
  • Broker Relations 4

Trade and Retail get you more orders, up to about 54 or so at level 4 in each.  You need enough order slots to have buy and sell orders up to cover each item, give or take.  The reason for this is once you starting flipping orders it helps to be able to list your inventory as you get it.  Accounting and Broker Relations lower the overall cost of making orders, which is not huge, but you can cut it down so that relisting and canceling orders will cost you less.  Handy when you see someone dump 10 modules for a sell order 500k less than everyone else and you want to buy them and relist all your inventory as one order.


Here is the meat of this beast.  How do you actually make money?  First, start small.  Buy 5-10 of items with good margins.  Even if you have billions of isk lying around and think “Hey, I can do this market thing!”, don’t invest it all.  Start with low value, decent margin items and learn the speed of competition, watch a few piles of inventory get reduced to nothing as a big fish crashes the sell value, and learn to watch the market.  By watch the market, I mean stick with a few items for a few days.  You’ll start to get a feel for how the market can ebb and flow.  Flip buy orders of 10k to sell orders of 50k.  Get your feet wet.

After a few days, you should have a fair bit more money off your starting investment.  Keep cool.  Expand slowly.  Buy in small amounts that can be flipped easily and quickly.  Remember the 50+ volume number I talked about earlier?  Don’t get suckered into investing in something with a huge margin and low turnover.  You’ll fail to make money.  Get familiar with the idea of “velocity of money”.  More small orders moving faster makes you more money.

At this point you may have a few tens of millions to work with.  Start increasing the value of the items you buy.  Upgrade from 10k modules to 100k modules.  The margins might get a bit better.  I shoot for a margin of 10% or more.  This can vary, but a decent margin leaves you less vulnerable to dramatic changes in the order values.  After a few more days you may be getting close to 100m or two in total capital.  Again, be careful!

Keep limiting your inventory.  A hangar full of modules is a pile of isk that is doing nothing!  You are better off keeping that isk liquid than holding stock.  I rarely buy more than 10 to 20 items at a time, unless they are low value and very high turnover (in the hundreds of orders per day range).  Pretty soon you should have a handle on what to buy, what times of day are good for flipping items, and you should be getting a feel for the market.  Only increase your investments in small increments and keep your eyes on whatever your goal is.


What to buy?  I focus on meta items.  These are items that cannot be manufactured, and have the “weird” names.  Industrialists produce tons of tech I and tech II items, and the volumes look great, but the margins are low and the competition is fierce.  You will likely never get to buy or sell the “vanilla” items unless you can sit in front of your computer screen for hours every day, and that rather defeats the purpose of this whole endeavor.  If you do not believe me, go look at the market screen for Large Shield Extender II.  I am willing to bet your screen shows a huge list in the buy and sell orders, they are all .01 isking each other, and the margin is so low your taxes and fees will eat any potential profits.

Once you start buying your meta items, you’ll notice margins change.  A lot.  Don’t worry.  If you bought at 300k, intending to sell at 1m, and the sell price drops to 500k while you got your stock, you have two options.  Sell at 500k, and make 200k profit, or hold your stock for a day or a few hours and wait to see what is happening.  Once you get enough isk, you can start looking for sell orders that are driving the price down and buy them, relisting at a higher price.  These are orders where someone lists a small quantity, say 5 units, at a large markdown.  So low that you can buy and relist and make a marginal profit.  As your isk pool grows, you’ll learn how you can manipulate the market prices by doing this.  Sometimes you’ll find a big pile of items selling for way below the next highest order.  This is a profitable opportunity!

Non-Module Items

There are ways to make money off items that are not ship modules.  I have not dabbled in this all that much.  But know this:  You can set remote orders specific to mission hubs to buy cheap mission loot and haul it to a trade hub.  You can buy skillbooks and bring them to a market hub and try to resell them higher in order to take advantage of impatient players.  You can dabble in PI goods, materials, and pirate tags.  All you need to consider is how much time various strategies will take, and if it is worth it to you to branch out from your trade hub and add hauling goods to your trading business.


Where should you set up shop?  At the time of writing, the obvious choices are Jita, Amarr, Rens and Dodixie.  These are the informal trade hubs of Eve. Jita is the biggest, and also has the most orders and players to compete with.  Also keep in mind that many times the weapons that are traded in these hubs relate to the rats nearby.  Dodixie has a lot of Hybrid turrets.  Rens has more Projectiles.  Amarr has a lot of Energy weapons.  Outside Jita margins can be better, but volume is lower.  This may help or hurt you.  I recommend you try out each hub and see which you like, which is more to your pace of play.


They exist.  Market bots that simply update every damn time you try to place an order.  You can’t do too much about them, other than cancel your buy orders and try to move your sell orders.  Alternatively, you could ladder up the price of the buy order buy setting a few small buy orders and cranking the price slowly up.  This works by slowly, over a few hours, incrementally raising the buy price until the bot stops matching you.  If you can get it high enough, sell your inventory to the bot and find solace in the fact that you gamed the bot for a bit of isk, and hurt the bot’s bottom line.  You won’t make as much, but it can be satisfying.

Is this the game you want to play?


This is not the end-all, be-all guide to market trading.  It is not a guide to market PvP, as such.  It is simply a basic guide to get you started in the market with a few guiding principles.  I like to trade in modules.  You might want to look at something else.  Here are the core ideas in this guide, restated for your edification:
  • Learn about what you are trading so you recognize the reasons behind trends and useful quantities.
  • Learn the various in game market tools, the price history graphs and tables.
  • Watch your margins, and cut your losses if needed.
  • Train your skills appropriately to take advantage of the markets.
  • Start small and organically, and take time to learn the market, there is a lot going on besides the numbers.
  • Stock not trading is isk not growing. 

Time, time, time...

Unrelated to Eve:

After almost a year off, I'm testing the waters in Eve again.  Crazy how fast that year went, and everything that's happened in my life.  Marriage, moving twice, family illness, and a hefty Minecraft addiction all put Eve in the backseat.  Proof I suppose that everything has a season.

Can't stop the signal?  We'll see...
I'm going to start writing again, but with a few caveats:  I'll probably talk about more than just Eve on this blog.  Due to that, I may have to revamp the format to make it multi-game appropriate.  If anyone who is *still* linking to me cares about that, make your adjustments accordingly :).

Back to Eve:

Just before I unsubbed, I had been working on a 30-Day market challenge.  I actually wrote the guide, but never formatted or posted it.  Expect to see that soon, as well as a new version.  I am starting up my market trading again, as the isk I made last year disappeared into PLEXes and I know find myself space poor once again, and looking to set up a sizable stable of ships for a new FW endeavor.

To those who have stumbled here over the last few months, thanks for coming!  I can't say I'll be posting as often as I was last year, but I hope to once again add to the Eve blogging community!