Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Risk-free ISK

I'd like to go back and revisit an old topic: that of sovereignty.  It's something I haven't talked about in a while.  Happily, I'm not a CSM7 candidate, so that means I can be direct.  That's right: I'm gonna go after some sacred cows.  And I'm not only gonna go after them, I'm going to take an M-2 machine gun to them over the next few days.  Should be fun.  Feel free to blast me in the comments.

Let's start with a really fun topic: risk-free ISK.

Risk-free ISK is bad, we're told again and again.  L4 mission-runners, incursion-runners, miners, and high-sec complex-runners are all bad people because they are only involved in EVE for risk-free ISK.  For this crime, they should all die (or be encouraged to kill themselves).  People right up to Mittens say this.

And this statement hides gross hypocrisy, because the most risk-free ISK in EVE is made in the most distant possible space from the L4 mission-runner.

One of my own means of making ISK is Tech2 production.  One of the items I produce are anchorable bubbles.  To make a Tech2 anchorable bubble requires, among other things, Graviton Pulse Generators and Nanomechanical Microprocessors, two "ship components".  Both of these components have as a key ingredient "Nanotransistors", an "advanced moon material" that is 0.25m3 per unit.  Nanotransistors are made from a mix of three "processed moon materials", sulfuric acid, platinum technite, and neo mercurite.  Platinum technite is a mix of two "raw moon materials"... platinum and technetium.

Technetium is the "tech" of legend.

Essentially, moon material processing just is like PI, where Base Metals and Noble Metals (raw) become Reactive Metals and Precious Metals (processed) become Mechanical Parts (advanced).(1)  Except that one unit of Mechanical Parts is six times bigger than one unit of Nanotransistors.

A single unit of Nanotransistors costs about 6300 ISK on the market today.  Even in their raw form, they go into building an absolute ton of stuff, including every single ganglink.  Put them into a Nanoelectrical Microprocessor, though, and they go into an enormous pile of T2 modules, including virtually every Amarr module such as the Cap Recharger II.  Put them into a Graviton Pulse Generator instead and they go into another large pile of T2 items... including every type of T2 kinetic missile.  Nanotransistors into Oscillator Capacitor Units?  Virtually every Gallente T2 ship.  Nanotransistors into Electrolytic Capacitor Units?  Virtually every Minmatar T2 ship.

You're using technetium right now and you might not even realize it.  It's in lots of products you use every day, as the commercials say.  And because it's only found a few places in the galaxy and is so widespread in its use, it's hugely valuable.  A single tech moon -- one -- is worth 7.3 billion ISK profit per month to the one that holds it.(2)

That means that there's 240 million ISK pouring out of every single tech moon in New Eden, every single day.  That's a lot of Nanotransistors.

Know something you almost never see, though?  A hauler full of Nanotransistors go splat.  You almost never see a moon-goo ship ganked.  Sure, it happens from time to time, but it's extremely rare.  There's 240 million ISK flowing out of 0.0, per tech moon, every single day of the year.  Given the amounts of ISK involved, we should be seeing this stuff go splat all the time.

Know why we don't?  Two reasons:
  1. Nanotransistors are 0.25m3 per unit, which means that a cloaky hauler can very comfortably haul that 240 million ISK daily take in a single load.  No freighter needed.
  2. The process of gathering, producing, and putting those nanotransistors into the cloaky hauler is in all other ways also completely or nearly risk-free.

Technetium comes from technetium moons, which are spread around the galaxy with a much larger concentration in the "northern" part of 0.0.  It is automatically brought into a POS (behind the POS shield) by a moon mining array in a constant hourly stream (no player input needed), then stored in a silo (likewise behind a POS shield), there it is combined with platinum which is mined at a second moon.  This, incidentally, is why when you do see moon-goo haulers ganked, more often than not it's platinum that they're carrying.  The platinum gets carried to the tech moon, not the other way around.  Platinum isn't as valuable.  Platinum is dumped into second silo and the two are combined into platinum technite in a simple reactor (also behind a POS shield).  From there, the platinum technite is put into another reactor and either combined with sulfuric acid and neo mecurite to make Nanotransistors, or it's combined with carbon polymers to make Fullerides (also behind a POS shield).(3)

The combined products are moved into another silo, and from there, to a Corporate Hangar Array.  A jump freighter is brought in, and the final product is loaded (both steps behind a POS shield).  The JF is then jumped to a nearby low-sec system near a station, immediately docked, and the final products are loaded into fast cloaky haulers for delivery to market (assuming the owning alliance doesn't just pump the products right into their own T2 production lines).  Short version: advanced moon materials are so small that there's no need to use a non-cloaky hauler, much less a freighter, to bring it in.

The entire process is remarkably risk-free.  There's far more risk involved running a single L4 mission than there is making that final cloaky hauler run into Jita or Amarr or Rens.  And the bulk of the process of gathering and generating that moon-goo requires no human intervention at all.

So, until moon-mining requires a mining fleet to warp to a moon and run active moon-mining modules for a couple of hours outside a POS shield, the next time someone rails about "risk-free ISK", feel free to keep in mind that the person doing it is probably a beneficiary of the most risk-free ISK in New Eden.

If I haven't ticked you off yet, come back tomorrow.  I'll talk about how sov should work, but probably never will.  In the process, I'll expose some more hypocrisy.


(1) Well, technically, it's the other way around: PI was modeled after the refining of moon materials.
(2) Hell, even platinum isn't terrible.  A single platinum moon is worth almost 300 million ISK profit per month.
(3) Fullerides -- and the tech that goes into making them -- go into the making of virtually every T2 turret ammo, among other things.

66 comments:

  1. I've really never understood why supply lines in eve weren't a bigger issue? A la Battle of the Atlantic.

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    1. Its because most logistics supply lines are not vulnerable in this game. That is changing but much more could be done to enable players to 'harass' undefended space/supplies.

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  2. I am one of the many that think that tech needs a nerf, but I think you are being a little disingenuous here. The real risk of running a tech moon is that PL shows up and blows up your POS, not the process of hauling it to Jita.

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    1. That'd be the same PL that are often the beneficiaries of this process, right? Or do you mean another PL?

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    2. You mean the POS that was paid for by 24h of operation?

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    3. PL faces the same "risk". The difference is, for the average smallish corp, they will never have the miliatary backing to stop whatever nearby large alliance wants their moon from taking it.

      My corp recently set up a moon goo pos in a low-sec system on a near worthless moon that barely paid for 75% of the fuel costs, it was destroyed in a matter of days by random griefer corp #670998678488907.

      In the same system, PL has a technetium moon POSd up, absolutely no presence in the system otherwise, but none of the locals even think of messing with them.

      Delete
  3. Very informative post, thanks! Had no idea of the inner workings.

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  4. I'm not sure if there are as many hypocrites on this issue as you think. I've never met anyone who doesn't think Tech is broken, and I've met a lot of people who make money from Tech. Goonswarm says it needs to be fixed, PL says it needs to be fixed, virtually everyone agrees on this issue.

    CCP's response to this issue is a classic example of the best being the enemy of the good. Everyone agrees that adding new methods to get moongoo that involve risk and player activity (and that provides isk directly to grunts rather than to Vuk Lau's bank account) is the best idea. Designing those methods takes time however, and in the meantime the tech moons continues to pump out unbalanced amounts of value.

    What CCP should do is immediately put some triage in place. Get Diagoras to do an internal analysis of hoe much of each moon mineral is used in industry, and use that data to balance mineral use so tech drops in value and other minerals rise. Then implement alchemy for r32s (like tech). Those two steps won't prevent a new bottleneck from occuring, but they should reduce the magnitude of the problem and add a kind of pressure release valve in the form of alchemy that will give them more time. And both those changes can be implemented quickly with a small team.

    Then once they have the good work done, get to work on the best solution of adding new methods of moongoo production to exist alongside the moons and distribute collection. Having the value scaling better with higher rarities at higher values will make creating that second system much easier anyways.

    I think CCP is so focused on trying to do a complete overhaul that they're ignoring the fact that the system needs immediate smaller tweaks to reduce the damage in the meantime.

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    1. I agree with you. But in the meantime, we've got people who are benefiting hugely from the "damage" being caused while simultaneously (and often self-righteously) bemoaning the scum that run L4 missions or incursions for "risk-free" ISK.

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    2. There's a difference between bemoaning the people who run incursions and bemoaning the fact that incursions are broken (or bemoaning people who defend highsec incursion payouts). If anyone tried to defend tech profits as being balanced they would be laughed out of 0.0, and with good reason.

      Highsec incursions are broken, tech is more broken. There's nothing wrong with anyone abusing either of them (since they're legitimate broken game machanics) but everyone should be onboard with rebalancing them in a thoughtful manner.

      Full disclosure, I have an alt that runs highsec incursions sometimes, and I benefit from tech via the services my alliance offers me. I still think both need to be nerfed.

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    3. Maybe the quick solution is to make it available for players in PI-like style? So no need in POS hassle. And it won't be totally risk-free.

      Probably it might give a good group for another EVE-D 514 link.

      Delete
  5. Can a jump freighter jump directly to a high sec station?

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    1. No. You can't light a cyno in high-sec for a JF to jump to.

      But what a JF CAN do is jump into a low-sec entry system with a high-sec gate, either at a POS or (more often) directly below a large station. Assuming it jumps in near a station, it waits for the session change timer, then there are two options:
      (1) It can immediately dock with no risk; or,
      (2) It can align toward the high-sec gate. If it enters warp, all is well. If it gets attacked, it will be at 0m from the station and can abort the warp and immediately dock.

      Option 1 is less risky: the cloaky haulers can be loaded from the JF in low-sec, then undock and head for the HS gate. Option 2 carries the (tiny) risk that the JF will be suicide-ganked as it enters high-sec, but of course the JF pilot can scout the inbound gate with an alt.

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    2. And then there's the low sec system 4 jumps from Jita with a high sec out gate that one station's undock is perfectly aligned to. Rarely had many people there, so virtually no risk cynoing into there, docking, and then undocking and then insta-warping to the gate before your undock timer ends. In many dozens if not hundreds of trips using that route, I never saw sufficient presence in the high sec exit system to suggest danger of a gank. It was usually practically deserted.

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  6. This would be a great way to make my mining skills relevant again. I'd love to jump back into a barge and mine goo with a fleet.

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  7. Not sure why you would think Mittani is being a hypocrite on this issue, unless you haven't followed his statements on moon goo overhauling and specifically tech. This would mean you are either uninformed, which is hard to believe on your part, or you are being "sic" a hypocrite?

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    1. Why do you automatically assume that this is about Mittens?

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  8. So if a force flied can stop Lasers, Projectiles, etc.... why can it stop a moon mining array beam??? if the force field is suppose to stop something from coming in it should do the same for something going out.....right?

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    1. Or it was purposely designed to function as is, like a 2-way mirror.

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  9. Just a small detail, it is not risk-free direct isk, but risk-free income no less.

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  10. Cloaky Hauler? Orca anyone? Unscanable, holds 40K, better tank and won't drop if Suicide ganked.

    Out of four high sec activities you have named, only one I've seen complained about with any amount of volume including from you is Incursions. Why? Because it's crazy ISK faucet. Every other activity is mainly ISK transfer and complained about much less. Level 4s are mix of two though. Most of whining I've seen is that Level 4 and Incursions can net you alot more ISK then null sec and that ruins risk vs reward part of game though I haven't compared Level 4s vs Havens and Sanctums with recent patches.

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  11. If tech is used in winmatar would nerfing them help that process? Wouldn't fix it by itself but I'm curious about your thoughts on that since I have next to no production knowledge.

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    1. Tech is used in the production of all T2 ships. Nerfing one faction doesn't make a difference. If Minmatar isn't the top faction, then buyers will just switch to a new faction - meanwhile the tech still flows.

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  12. I think you did bad math Riptard.

    Moon reactions produce 1500 Nanotransistors per cycle (one hour) That's 375m3 per hour, or 9000m3 per day. I don't know that many cloaky haulers that can haul 9000m3 when fit correctly for stealth work. A Cargo-Fit Viator might not even get that much space.

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    1. Yep, that matches my math. A Viator can hold that amount comfortably and align in six seconds. Only the very best gate-decloaker has a chance of decloaking that, and you have to do it twice: once to detect that this particular Viator (as opposed to every other one) has 240 million in moon-goo aboard, then again when you decide to gank it.

      Not the easiest proposition in the world.

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    2. A Prorator with expanded cargohold IIs and cargohold optimization rigs holds over 10,000m³.

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    3. Ok, yeah I loaded up pyfa and checked. 6 second align time and 10km3. I'd be curious if this is you just theorycrafting the haul, or if someone actually does 30 jita runs a month just to unload nanotrasistors.

      I know my alt's indy corp did weeky JF/Freighter runs until the Jita griefers caught on and started wardeccing them to gank the haulers. It isn't emergent gameplay to fly back and forth between a losec system and Jita with a load of materials 30 times a month. Ignoring the "sell time" you spend 2 hours hauling. Yuck.

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  13. even tech isn't as dumb as how easy and safe it is to bot in sov space with current ccp policies

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  14. While the process of harvesting and transporting might be relatively risk free being able to hold the moons is not.

    You make it sound like any random can go set up a POS and rake in 240m ISK every day, when in reality there is a massive risk in assaulting/defending these moons.

    You only need to look at the war in the North and how much ISK was destroyed over these moons, it would take over a year for the combined income of the North's Tech moons to cover the losses of the conflict.

    This isn't to say Tech doesn't need to be fixed, I don't think I've come across anyone who says otherwise however you are overlooking a large part of the process.

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  15. While tech is broken and really needs to be fixed, I can't say it is risk free isk. Every tech moon is known, and claimed by someone, literal trillions of isk worth of ships have been destroyed defending and taking those moons. Especially after the NC fell. Because they are so valuable the large alliances control them (pick a large entity in the north, they have Tech.) They aren't risk free isk, but the cost of entry to capture, hold and maintain such a resource is really really high. You need fleets to take the moon, an even bigger fleet to defend the moon, and the industry to mine the moon and process the goo. If the region is stable, and you have enough mass and firepower to deter people messing with your moons, it's easy isk. But when large power blocs get bored, and things get shaken up, you have to fight tooth and nail to keep it.

    Really, the whole moon minerals system, the POS system and SOV system need to be ripped out, thrown into a pit and burned.

    The other difference between tech, and incursions/L4 is tech isn't an isk faucet. It used to be an isk sink (Beyond the ships blown up defending the moons) before PI allowed you make your own POS fuel. The money to buy technium and its products still comes from player/corportation wallets. So while tech causes massive amounts of isk to flow, it doesn't create it from nothing. Mining is the same way. To the person buying tech it's still isk out of hands, but to the economy as a whole, it is isk being moved around, not created.

    Actually, the whole industry side of EVE also needs to be massively overhauled. Mining, moons, POSs and such need a lot of work.

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  16. You know what? I like you, Jester. This was very illuminating, thank you.

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  17. Well, Jester, of course people are already jumping in and saying that tech moons aren't safe at all because they can be attacked. No need to say they are making no effort to show proof of how much that's true.

    My suggestion is that you ask Tuberfield three things:
    1) The number of tech moons in Eve
    2) How many times tech moon POSes were reinforced last year
    3) How many moons changed hands last year

    Then update your post stating how (in)frequent such dangers really are.

    Of course, no amount of facts will convince people who have a take in the current situation, but it is an opportunity to make the post more complete.

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    1. I don't have to do anything to refute the "tech moons are risky" argument. The entire argument is an irrelevant strawman: ownership of a tech moon might be risky for an alliance (I doubt it, but it could be). Every other type of ISK generation is risky for an individual.

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    2. There is a picture of a massive fleet fight on the EVE dev blog about how wonderful TiDi is working.

      That should give you an idea of what it takes to defend your tech.

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    3. Spamming Jita local is a effective, risk free way to make money. Same as making posts on MD asking for money.

      Seriously, the guys with trillions: they don't bloody undock and they didn't make it while undocked. (excluding a few solo C5 dudes)

      Delete
  18. The only thing left out in this review, which is very important in my perspective, is that Technetium and other moons are wealth concentrators, not wealth creators; the price of tech is demand driven. Moons do not create ISK, they simply take it from everyone else.

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    1. Well that is true, they don't generate isk directly but it still makes a huge difference whether your moon has some shine technetium in it or just a crapy cobalt output.

      The main point why this hole moon goo principle is broken is that it is indeed demand driven. The demand is rising with player population. Amount of moons does not rise and all of them are known by now. there is no way to create additional tech with increased effort.

      Oh and at least the logistics involved fighting for or defending the tech moon are t2 ships. Destroying them will only rise demand on new T2 ships and thereby make the tech moon even more valuable.

      Delete
  19. 240 million a day from all the tech moons? or do you mean 240 billion isk a day for ALL the tech moons.

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    1. 240 million per day, per tech moon. If your alliance holds 10 tech moons, 2.4 billion per day.

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  20. Your comparison is flawed,

    If you start by comparing an individual making risi free missions in empire, you should perhaps compare it to you, alone holding a tech moon in 0.0 .

    Try that, then we'll speak again about the risk free part.

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    1. So if a corp or alliance is dedicated to running incurisons it is no longer risk free isk because the issue is really on an individual level? Let me guess, your alliance has tech moons.

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  21. Your article suggests that material is processed in the same POS as the moon goo is gharvested. Thats not the case as a tower can't hold as many modules as defense need to be heavy too.

    You also forget the amount of work to set up, run, refuel and logistic hauler dozends of posses.

    Risk free doesn't mean work free. Only because the enemy is too stupid to catch the transports doesn't mean its risk free.

    Ask the tech moon operators. They plan their daily life around their POS cycles.

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    1. Teut, out of curiosity, can you give us some numbers on the amount of people and hours needed for that?

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  22. It seems to me, and Im just thinking out loud here, that the solution to the "tech" problem is actually relatively simple. Increase the visibility of the supply chain, literally, as the case may be.

    if the end product of moon-mining didn't so neatly fit into a cloaky hauler then there would, in theory, be greater opportunity for piracy somewhere along the chain. Alliances would need to take this into whatever cost/benefit ratio calculations they do and then either work to secure their supply chain (just like army's do in real-life) or "rent" the moon to someone else or even come up with a hypothetical "third" option.

    A good blog, really helped me understand what moon-mining is and where a lot of my stuff probably came from.

    Im curious though Jester, do you have a response to those who point out that moon-goo's are, as one poster put it, isk concentrators not generators?

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  23. Did Rote loose a techmoon recently that they are not butthurt over?
    I totally aggree that techmoons should be more balanced and not focused on a single area.
    But saying its risk free is just dumb,

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  24. All you're saying here is that the process of getting it to market doesn't involve much risk with proper logistics, which is another way of saying logistics are too easy.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with Tech at all; in fact tech moons are currently the lead provider of all conflict in new eden. I'm not sure you can call owning a tech moon "risk free" when it paints one giant motherfucking target on your back.

    I also BADLY WISH people would stop talking about "ISK pouring out of moons" because it fucking doesn't. Tech is a source of MATERIALS not ISK and as such is subject to supply and demand issues. People bemoan highsec incursions in part because they pay too much, but also because the payment being in pure ISK is badly broken and adds to inflation. Recent stats released show that highsec Incursions are responsible for a third as much ISK going into the game as *every other bounty in any space* so it is absolutely right people are complaining about the amount of ISK added.

    Finally, Mittens is *against* tech. I'm also not sure where you think Mittens has stated L4 rewards or Incursions pay too much, because he hasn't, and has actually *defended* highsec Incursion income.

    He is against retards who think they *should* be able to gather ISK in a risk free fashion, which is completely different to stating the activity itself pays too little or too much.

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    1. Khanh'rhh, Tech is in limited supply and the demand for it is massive and diverse. So it's very unlikely that its price will crash.

      And which EvE consumer price index did you use to measure inflation in EvE? Jester already pointed this out in his post "We grief PvPers. Love, incursion bears.".

      ('Consumer Price Index measures prices of a selection of goods and services purchased by a "typical consumer"')

      Delete
  25. Also, Nullbears can get a single Storyline Mission that hands them an 800,000,000 ISK Mining Foreman Mindlink. And they say we high-seccers make too much ISK too easily. I mean...."Wow".

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  26. You can all thank "Dr. Eyjoooo" or however that economist CCP hired is called.

    Like every fucking economist who hates "trivial" non scarcity based economic models he just looves his bottlenecks. So even encourages them instead of advising ways of mitigation.

    Just like the damn tripped power circuit bottleneck in rig production.

    It is even stupid gameplay design. As it leads to boring and hardware taxing blob-fare for the few worthy resources.
    While a spread of the care-bear "plankton" would instead lead to more fun small PvP pack hunting.

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  27. Riskless vs Rewarding vs Effortless. Choose two.

    It can be risky and rewarding with no effort.

    Keeping a tech moon and managing logistics does take lots of effort.

    While I disagree on the pedantic points, I agree in principle. Although, PI is also risk free isk open to more or less everyone.

    What I want is effortless, risk free, big time isk. Not to share though, oh no, I want to be special. Or something.

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  28. I'm not sure your analysis covers the whole picture. I think you're spot on with your assesmenent that the mining and use of technetium has virtually no risk involved. But you haven't discussed the risk and cost of acquiring and defending the moons. Isn't that where the challenge is?

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  29. May i suggest the following read?

    http://failheap-challenge.com/showthread.php?5178-changing-moongoo

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  30. You know how many ships I have lost in taking these so called easy risk free tech moons? Alot, Same goes for defending them. Hardly risk free.

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    1. Mm-hmm. Now subtract all the ones that were reimbursed.

      Delete
  31. Dear Disingenuous Jester,

    You're confusing people, particularly a few bears, it seems, by deliberately obfuscating the difference between "ISK changing hands easily" -- a la products produced from PI/moon-mining, and "ISK from thin air" -- bounties, Incursion payouts, mission rewards. "ISK from thin air" is a faucet that adds ISK to the already-overflowing sink, "ISK changing hands" is just ISK circling the drain waiting for the clogged drain in the sink to suck it up.

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    1. Hong, it's about the flow of the money. Yes, incursion runners get their money from the central bank (CCP). And tech moon holders get it from other players.
      But incursion runners are competing against each other, and the barrier of entry to this activity is low (get a fleet and you're in business). So no corporation is sure to get over 1.5 billion ISK a week.
      Tech moon holders are also competing against each other, but the barrier of entry is much higher. Because the number of tech moons is limited and the defenders can count on over 1.5 billion of ISK per week. It means a corporation can count on a steady supply on money, because the demand for tech is far higher than the supply.

      Delete
  32. Interesting post, but I hope the extent of the hypocrisy series continues. I can't remember the last time I farmed a 100% payout incursion in high sec with capitals. Oh wait! My bad! That's only null sec that you can do that, and with approximately zero competition too. Poor, poor null sec'ers . .

    I'm thinking it will also be interesting to see what you dig up on all the macroing in null. Ratting macros that don't make double or triple what moon goo does a day, are run by numpties. Then there are the ABC mining macroers. I've seen macroers running ded sites too, mind you that's not to difficult with big ships deep in friendly territory. Of course, it's always very convenient to point the fingers at those evil high sec incursion runners (at least half of which are null sec players)' and those equally despicable high sec macro miners that are completely ruining the game by macroing high sec ore to the tune of about 3 to 5 million an hour . . .

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    1. umm shows how ignorant you are you can't drop capitals cause the whole incursion constelation is cynojammed.

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  33. I think your message got lost, Jester. I look forward to the post on your proposal for a sov mechanics fix that will (supposedly) also address risk free moon goo harvesting.

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  34. http://brokentoysalliance.com/402/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=2210

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  35. 4.5 billion in Platinum Technite...

    http://eve-kill.net/?a=kill_detail&kll_id=12611179

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  36. I'm not sure where you get your information on how Tech moon mining works - perhaps you're looking at different POS set-ups than I am, but having made a point of looking at lots of moon harvesting installations, I've never seen a Tech moon with a reactor in.

    All the Tech moon POS usually has is a harvester, two silos and then it switches to "turtle" mode with as many hardeners as the (usually) Caldari large control tower can hold.

    Really - it's like a bait Drake - it's there to take ages to take down allowing the gang to warp in and counter gank.

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  37. You have to understand one thing:

    To own a tech moon is to invite upon yourself the largest scale warfare available in any MMO. The risk is not in operation -- it is in mere ownership. Technitium mining is a game with such high stakes literally only the most powerful people in the game can wield the armies necessary to control it.

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