Monday, April 30, 2012

Hulkageddon V: Gank Proof

This morning I was looking through Twitter, and Helicity Boson posted this lovely gem:

For those who want the link, here you go. Yes, that is a 3.6 Billion isk Hulk, lost to a pair of destroyers. Wow. Looks like you have officially won Eve. Deadspace shield gear, T2 rigs, fit for mining efficiency. 3.6 Billion isk is a long way to go in mining Veldspar, so enjoy that buddy.

The killmail gets even better when you look at damage taken. As Helicity pointed out, this fellow only took about 5000 damage, which means that all of these expensive modules likely weren't even on! I am constantly astounded by the incompetency of a lot of these miners out there, especially the ones that are clueless about Hulkageddon all together.

The event did get me thinking if I could build a Hulk to resist ganks. I gave it my best shot, but Hulks are pretty squishy. Here's my best effort, with the constraint that I was only going to use T2 gear since literally anything can be ganked with enough firepower.

[Hulk, Anti-Hulkageddon Hulk]

Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II

Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Survey Scanner II

Damage Control II
Power Diagnostic System II

Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

Mining Drone II x5
Mining Drone II x5

This poor fit still only has 25.1k EHP. Honestly, it seems like the best defense against getting ganked would be to put an alt in corp, grab a cheap T1 frigate, web your Hulks to kingdom come and keep them aligned. Plain and simple, any ship can be ganked somebody wants to do it. If pilots can gank freighters, your Hulks definitely aren't safe. Stay aligned, have some good intel, maybe get some shield gank links from your Orca buddies. Throwing isk at the problem does little to nothing for you.

Gankers, enjoy the ride. You've got a lot of easy targets out there.  ;)

Station Trading 102: Day-to-Day Operations

In the second part of the station trading guide, I'll look at item selection and the direct practices involved in day-to-day operations. As I've said before, station trading is not a difficult task, but there are a lot of little nuances that you can learn from in order to start trading more effectively and sooner. Let's start by taking a look at choosing what items to trade in.

Item Selection
You can't trade in everything. You are limited by number of orders (even with an army of alts), the isk you have available, and most importantly, your time. The point of having a station trading alt is that it is a source of semi-passive isk, and in order for this to work for you, choosing what to trade in is essential. The question, then, is how to decide what you should aim for. In my opinion, it breaks down to four essential factors, which you can then analyze based on your own desires and capabilities. The four categories are Price, Margin, Volume & Volatility. Let's break it down step by step.

Price is pretty straight forward. This is simply how much you pay for the item. If you can't afford to have a couple of Marauders in your hangar or on sell orders waiting for someone to take them off your hands, then you probably can't trade in them (to start, at least).

Margin is the difference between the top of the buy orders and the bottom of the sell orders. Obviously you want to maximize profit, so finding ships and modules with higher margins is often a very good thing.

Volume is the quantity traded per day (or month, year, etc). Higher volumes lead to quicker turnover of items. This affects how quickly you get the return on your investment. For example, Gyrostabilizer II's have a much higher volume traded than Naglfar dreadnaughts (see below). The in game market browser is great for this. Go to Price history --> Show Table, and look under quantity. Note that this is regional data, so the number in station would be ever lower than this quantity typically.

Quantity: Greater than 200 traded every day

Quantity: 1 traded over the last couple weeks

The final factor is volatility. This relates to how much the price can change and how quickly it does so. This is especially important because you don't want to buy at one price and end up losing on the sale if the market price drops. The in-game browser is again an excellent resource though. If you go to Price History --> show Graph, you can see the general price trends for up to a year in the current region. Typically, higher volume traded leads to lower volatility. An interesting example is the Tornado. The Tier 3 Battlecruisers have been trying to stabilize under a period of overwhelming inflation, and you can see the price wavering over the last 3 months.

The problem with these four factors outlined is that they are often at odds with each other, and this is where you need to decide for yourself what is important. Margins increase with increasing price, but you also often find lower volumes and higher volatility (Check the table for an Obelisk, for example). On the other hand, you could trade in items with lower margins at generally lower prices, but you will have high volume and low volatility (Gyrostabilizer II). In the latter case, however, you're also going to have to update your market orders more frequently because there are so many people competing for these common items. 

My recommendation is dependent upon your status in terms of commitment and capability. If you don't have a ton of capital to start with, then you have no choice but to start in lower priced items and work your way up. There is nothing wrong with trading in Magnetic Field Stabilizers and Ballistic Control Units. One of the first groups of items I traded in was +4 implants, although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it now. All it comes down to is managing your risk and deciding how often you are willing to update your market orders.

Daily Operations
Running trade operations is relatively simple. In the first few months, it will be a lot of trial and error, and you should constantly be evaluating your performance. Especially in this early phase, it is crucial to review your item selection and keep an eye out for some more lucrative industries (higher or similar margins with better volume, for example).

Ultimately, it comes down to updating orders in such a way that you get them filled and put on sell orders. Personally, I'm one of those traders who increments by 0.01 isk when I have been beaten out on a buy order. There is no reason to jump up by any higher amount or round it off to a cutesy number. You are a trader, and you make your living based on the small margins available to you. Why would you cut into your own profit? 

I try to update my orders 1-3 times a day depending upon how busy I am. That number is often just one time a day though, and sometimes not at all. Generally, one update takes me about 15 minutes, but you'll find very quickly that your profit in a given day is very closely tied to how often you update your market orders. I find that about 40-60% of all of my trades occur within the first two hours of updating my orders. Its exponential decay in frequency of sales after the two hour mark. To put it simply, other traders just move in too quickly for you to stay on top in market hubs. I've also found that updating orders is more beneficial at certain times of day than others. For example, when all of the Americans come home and update their respective orders around 5pm (GMT -5), its not a great idea to refresh your orders at 4:45. 

I also have a specific way of updating my orders, although you can definitely find something else that works for you. My method is this: I update buy orders first, followed by sell orders. Then, I put all of my stock on sell orders (as long as I'm not competing with myself), and as I go through, I replace buy orders if need be as well. I have found that this is the best way to do it because after you update buy orders, you'll often see items come through very quickly. This way, by the time you get to selling ships and modules, you can put the very recently acquired items right back on the market for a quick turnaround.

Those are the basics of how I run my trade enterprise. It is not overly complex, but there is a lot of thought in it at the end of the day. The fundamental part of trade operations is choosing items that give you a good return on the investment of capital and your time. The more you can update your orders, the more you can expect to see in your hangar for resale. Next time, we'll take a look at some of the more advanced topics in the trade industry. Stay tuned for Station Trading 103 coming up later this week.

If you missed Station Trading 101, check it out here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Station Trading 101: Getting Started

This is the beginning of a three part series on my particular variant of station trading. I've thought about writing about my trading practices for a while now. When the EON Isk Guide came out, I was disappointed because their rundown on trade involved actually moving around space, and that's not for me (trade-wise). I like station trading because it involves minimal effort and it keeps me with more than enough isk to fund pvp, skills, etc. To kick it off, Station Trading 101 will start with the basics of acquiring skills, attaining capital and understanding the basics.

 The Skills
A quick and easy part of trade that is absolutely essential is the skill training. The first two you want to look at are Trade and Retail skills. These both allow more orders per level of the skill (+4/+8, respectively). If you find that these still aren't enough orders, look towards Wholesale and Tycoon, which give you +16/+32 per level. Personally, I have Trade IV, Retail V, and Wholesale IV, and that is more than enough for me at the moment (125 open orders).

The next two skills that I would also call essential are Accounting and Broker Relations. Accounting reduces the transaction tax for each order by 10% per level. Broker Relations drives down the costs associated with setting up a market order by 5% per level as well. As a general rule of thumb, taxes and fees come to about 3% of your market order total, so utilizing this skills will allow you to trade on razor thin margins, and as any trader knows, a couple percent here or there can go a long way over time.

Margin Trading is a skill that wouldn't technically qualify as must-have, but its very close. Marginal, you could say (I'm sorry, that's a horrendous pun). Each level cumulatively lowers the amount of isk you have to put on escrow for your orders by 25% per level. Going from level 1 --> 5, you have 75%, 56.25%, 42.19%, 31.64%, and 23.73%. What does this mean exactly?  If you place a buy order for 100M isk, for example, with Margin Trading V, you only have to put down 23.73M isk when you place the order. The remaining 76M isk is covered when someone fills that order. This is a beautiful thing, especially for budding traders. Essentially, you can trade with money you don't have. Not all of your orders will fill at one time, so you can have the following situation: the combination of your stock and your buy orders actually exceeds your net assets and isk. It can be confusing, but it's an awesome skill once you've got it figured out.

The last set of skills that I have for trade are somewhat non-essential, but it depends on your intended trade style. Daytrading, Marketing, Procurement and Visibility all relate to your ability to trade remotely. If you intend to just have an alt sit in a station (like Jita 4-4), these won't be necessary. I'll cover these explicitly in Station Trading 103: Advanced Topics.

Attaining Capital & Understanding the Basics
You can't start your trading enterprises until you've got something to offer the seller. Honestly, you can start pretty small and still make it, but it'll be a tougher road to go down. Having more capital always affords you more opportunity. Missions, Incursions, Mining or otherwise are all suitable, but you need somewhere to start.

Down to the basics then? Its pretty simple actually. Let's look at Magnetic Field Stablizer II prices as an example. As you can see, I chose Dodixie for this example. We'll talk about location selection just after this. Looking at sell orders (Sellers), you see the lowest price in Dodixie is just under 1M isk, but on buy orders (Buyers), the highest bid is 772,310.65 isk. The basic principle of station trading is to get someone to sell to you at the buy price and resell at the higher sell price. Simple right?

On buy orders, any order that is green means it has range selected such that any seller in your station will fill that order if it is the highest available. Note: selling to buy orders always fills the highest available buy order that meets range requirements. So as a station trader, you have to beat out the bids that are in your range in order to get your items to resell. 

The last thing I'll cover in Trading 101 is location. Location is everything, right business owners? For station trading, there's really only a few places you'll want to go, and those are the major trade hubs. There are a few tiers of trade hub. Tier 1: Jita, Jita, & Jita. There is no doubt that Jita is the economic hub of Eve. Here, orders will be updated more frequently, and margins may be smaller, but the turnover will be quicker (If these terms seem unfamiliar, see Station Trading 102 -- I'll get into it). Your Tier 2 hubs are Rens and Amarr. Tier 3 hubs are other systems such as Dodixie, Hek, Oursulaert, and miscellaneous mission hubs. Blake over at k162space wrote an awesome article about the importance of location. Its from 2010, but most of the information is still pretty spot on. Side note: I have no idea how or why I was able to recall a random blog post from a year and a half ago, but it happens.

That's the quick and dirty of station trading. In the next post, I'll cover item selection & some direct practices in the station trading game. This is the heart of what we're going after, so pay attention if I haven't lost you yet!

See the later posts below:
Station Trading 102

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Escalation: The Patch & the Goons

The Escalation Begins indeed. The initial ramp-up to Inferno dropped yesterday, and quite flawlessly I might add. I've been extremely busy recently trying to wrap up my last semester at college, but I've got to at least give CCP credit for getting the patch out cleanly. On my machines, the entire Escalation patch took about 20 minutes to complete with no errors. Judging by the tweetfleet, I saw much of the same. So much for the "set a long skill" of old days. That's not to say I didn't do it though (Medium Energy Turret V, Electronics Upgrades V, Armored Warfare V)  ;-)

On the subject of Escalation, Goonswarm is really taking it up a notch with two things. The first is Burn Jita. As many know, its going to be an attempt to cause general havoc in Jita. According to the "leak" on EN24, there will be Tornado gangs to gank freighters and there will be roving Thrashers for all other targets. The biggest thing is that they are supposedly starting the attack a day earlier than planned. Don't be too surprised if its even earlier than that. They may try to catch people scrambling to make their freighter runs before the madness starts. 

The fun part about Burn Jita is the opportunity to whore on some Concord killmails. RvB is organizing a response to the Goons. Personally, I don't like to claim it as a part of any "Save Jita" campaign. I just want to show up and either whore on some flashy KMs or pop the pods of some outlaws. Its mostly just for the lolz more than anything else. Also, this is a pretty significant "Eve is Real/I was there" event, and there's no reason not to check out the antics that are about to go down. 

The second escalation I referenced that the Goons are apparently about to undertake is OTEC (Organization of Technetium Exporting Corporations). This is an attempt to collude and drive up the price of tech and its related goods. Jester's article on the uses of tech is a fantastic resource to see just how influential this could be. This makes me a lot more uneasy than Burn Jita or Hulkageddon. Sure, I may lose a few ships or pods while having my fun in Jita this weekend, but if the Goons are successful in driving up the price of Tech, watch the prices of all T2 goods start to skyrocket. In conjunction with the already high levels of inflation, the next few months could see some pretty wild ship prices. It also makes trading a little more risky, which is my primary isk source. Its all quite a step up from the ice interdiction, especially since its something they can continue indefinitely. A bit of an escalation you might say ;-)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

BB 35: Being the Villain

Now approaching its tenth year, the EVE Online player community has matured into an intricate and multi-faceted society viewed with envy by other game developers, but is frequently regarded with suspicion by the wider gaming community. 

Is this perception deserved? Should "The Nation of EVE" be concerned by its public identity and if so how might that be improved? What influence will the integration of the DUST 514 community have on this culture in the future?

There's an old saying that perception is reality. And I was going to open with some long rambling philosophical discourse about that, but one of the first google searches on the subject is Jester's post by that title. That man is literally a machine. To return to my perception of this reality though, I think this month's blog banter is a pretty interesting question and one of the toughest ones we've seen in a while.

I'm not really one for political correctness at all. I think its more than silly. Someone will always be offended no matter what you said. Either you took a statement too far or it didn't go far enough. As I wrote about when Mittani-gate was ongoing, I think that those comments were out of line, but the 1 month ban and removal from the CSM was too strong and clearly indicative of a knee-jerk reaction by CCP. Mittani-gate spurred the conversation this month though. CCP has a clear need to protect its product's image in order to thrive. My simple response is that I think the image that has been cultivated over the last decade is exactly the one that we want -- Eve is a cold hard place where someone will scam you, kill you, pod you and enjoy your tears throughout the whole damn thing.

Enter Dust 514. To be honest, I felt that this year's Fanfest focused more around Dust than Eve in many respects, and that's fine (although not the way I'd prefer it). I read a review on initial game play via a tweet recently that can be summarized by saying, "The play isn't as good as something like Mass Effect 3, but there is potential." There sure is potential, but at this point, that's all we've got. It all depends how CCP integrates the Dusties into our world (and yes, I am saying our world for now, at least). It needs to be meaningful on both ends. Regardless, you can believe Sony put some pressure on CCP to clean up their little mess with the Mittani. Sony is the big time, and they don't want CCP's "missteps" flowing over into their business.

At the end of the day, I'm happy with our community. We are who we are, take it or leave it. So what if the perception is dark? Check out #tweetfleet or the blogging community and you'll see in a second that we're not all (completely) cold, dark bastards. Many of us, sure. But I wouldn't want Eve another way. I love the game where you have a month of destroying industrial ships kicked off by burning down the primary market hub. And I may shoot a Hulk this May just for good measure, but I'm not generally an active participant in Hulkageddon. But this type of sinister reality is a huge part of what makes Eve so great, and if Sony or the larger gaming community can't handle it, that's fine. We can always use some fresh blood in New Eden, but outside of that, take a hike. I think we're just fine with being the villains of the MMO community, and why not? Perception is reality, I suppose.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hulkageddon V: Mining Rokhs Abound

To all of the people who have bundles of fun mining (or just want to capitalize on the absurdly high mineral prices right now), I present to you the mining Rokh. It has an absurdly high shield tank with bonuses to resists. The highs are filled with miners and the lows accommodate mining, fitting and cargohold. To throw out some EFT numbers, the Rokh gets 891 units/minute and a Hulk with Strip Miners and two upgrades gets 1436 units/minute. The big upside to the Rokh is its monster shield tank at 152k EHP. All of these numbers are before any leadership bonuses, so an Orca with mining/siege links could even further better these numbers. And of course, fit drones to taste. Your call between Damage or mining drones. Enjoy!

[Rokh, Mining Rokh]
Mining Laser Upgrade II
Mining Laser Upgrade II
Co-Processor II
Co-Processor II
Expanded Cargohold II

Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II

Miner II
Miner II
Miner II
Miner II
Miner II
Miner II
Miner II
Miner II

Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I

Monday, April 9, 2012

Veteran Skill Training

I've crossed over the 55 M SP mark, and I have to be honest, its getting tough to pick out skills to train. Before anyone gets upset, I'm fully aware this is a good problem to have. A great problem, even. Its a problem none the less though. There are plenty of options, but its getting to the point where I have the skills I want and need to fly the ships that I do. All of my gunnery and navigation skills are top notch, so skills are becoming pretty specialized now. Let's take a look.

Amarr Skills - I am still a bit weak in Amarr skills. I don't have T2 guns for medium or large, and I'm lacking in Battleship skills as well. The thing is that I don't really fly Amarr ships too often, and the ones that I'm interested in don't have any issues (Curse, Pilgrim, Guardian, Slicer). I'm considering sticking here though because it could be useful down the road.

Capital Skills - I'm in good shape to fly a Thanatos now, but that doesn't lend itself to RvB too often. I could be somewhat easily persuaded to leave RvB, but no one's been knocking at my door recently. It feels a bit wasteful to train for the Thanatos when I've never undocked the one I have.

Drone Skills - The only real drone skills I have left to train are Heavies & Sentries to V. Again, I think the only place I would use these are Ishtars or Dominixes however, and they're not a significant part of the repertoire right now. I could see this being useful though, and it does help out for capitals (although not Supercapitals, obviously).

T2 Ships - I can fly all T2 ships, but I'm considering taking some of the skills to V. Logistics and Recons would be top of that list, as they both have significant reason to max them out in terms of fitting and survivability. Again, they're just not top of the list right now. Logistics would benefit Carriers as well though, given that Logi V enables triage.

I don't mean this post to be a bitchy rant. I think its representative of a larger problem for Eve. With all of the discussion about Titans recently, it makes sense that Veterans want to head that way. Honestly, there is not much else to train for after a certain point. I'm specializing in training ships that I don't fly (often) at this point. It makes me consider training up an alt or something, but in general its tough to aim for something higher at this point. I'd love to hear what other vets shoot for once they reach this type of situation. Regardless, life is still pretty good at this point being able to jump into a very wide array of strong ships. If you can overcome the bitter vet syndrome, its an awesome time to be in New Eden.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

RvB Small Gang Weekend

A lot of people knock RvB, saying its too blobby and there's no strategy. I totally understand that. This weekend, the RvB leadership decided to do something different: no fleets above one squad (10 pilots). The leadership runs these themed weekends pretty often. A couple of the usual flavors are Kitchen Sink (anything goes) and Serendipitous (T1 Cruiser and below, no faction or T2). This was the first go at the small fleet weekend, and its been a blast. 

The norm at RvB is to jump into a large fleet and smash into each other. That's all well and good, but it can actually turn into a game of "What ship should I bring so that I don't get primaried but I'm still effective." This small fleet weekend was totally different. With gangs of no more than 10 rolling around the home systems, every pilot mattered. With such small gangs, EWAR and ship selection becomes really important. With all electronic warfare, its great in small gangs, but it doesn't necessarily scale too well. In these gangs, we used tracking disruptors quite a bit. We also used some unconventional fittings, such as gank Mallers fit with blasters. I was on for a pretty long duration of the night and it was a blast. 

I hope RvB continues this event, and I believe that they will. More people can FC, more people matter, and thinking differently matters. Tonight wasn't about just DPS, tank, follow fleet instructions. It was about full small gang operation. It was great to see 2-4 small fleets going out for either side. There was also more people going out and trying some solo Pvp as well. I loved the theme, and its definitely here to stay in RvB.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inflation & Changing Ship Selections

An interesting thought crossed my mind tonight while updating some market orders. Its getting to be pretty common knowledge that there has been some massive inflation in New Eden over the past year. Jester wrote a great post about the potential stagflation that could occur over the next year, and if you haven't read it you should check it out. Besides the obvious market impact of inflation, I began to think that it could have a significant change on what people choose to fly over the next year or so.

I've never really been one to fly very expensive ships. For the first two years in Eve, I missioned for everything I had. Its not a great experience, and I wouldn't recommend it to most people. Even with a pimped out Kronos or Machariel, I couldn't make much more than 40-60 million isk per hour. That's not bad, but it makes losses sting a lot when a fitted Drake translates to an hour of your life spent missioning. Since I started trading though, isk is much less of a problem. As a result, I'm much more inclined to fly something in the couple-hundred-million-isk range. Let's take a look at what that buys you, now and last summer.

Last year, a Dominix was 50 million isk. With the current levels of inflation, you're looking at closer to 90+ million, and all of that is before fitting. This is characteristic of all T1 ships. Not every curve is quite as sharp as the Dominix, but its the same general trend. Starting around the November/December time frame, all prices started to rise.


The same meteoric rise hasn't occurred as uniformly for T2 ships however. Its not really worth posting a graph because there is so much variance between ships, but suffice it to say that inflation hasn't affected them as strongly. The interesting thing that comes out of this is that T2 ships are becoming less of a mental obstacle in terms of price. T2 frigs can be fit for around 30-40 million, max. T2 cruisers are well under the price of many battleship fits at this point. This is all due to the fact that mineral speculation is driving up the cost of many ships and moon goo is not driving up T2 prices in the same fashion. I'm curious to see if more pilots begin flying T2 more regularly. I know I will for PvP outside RvB. The relative shift in prices will almost certainly drive up usage on all T2 ships.