Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vacation in dark places

Ace Rimmer - what a guy!

I'm on vacation with my family this week, so I thought it was a good time to get one of my main's clone into an exploration adventure. I put a couple of cheap probing implants in his head, jumped in a Helios and found a wormhole. I'm torn between running pirate relic sites in C1, C2 and C3 wormholes vs the same thing but in nullsec. I think I'd prefer nullsec, since I'll definitively know if anyone is in the system with me, thanks to the local channel.

It took me a couple of days (just a couple of hours of play time though) to get out of the first wormhole, since all the exits closed while I was out with my family.  The locals were very helpful, letting me what system their lowsec static had re-opened upon, but I was already in the next wormhole, searching for that elusive nullsec exit. I did actually start to run a relic site in this hole, but warped away when an uncloaked stratios warped in.

I've scanned five wormholes so far and found no exits to nullsec. This may not be as easy a way to get there as I'd hoped. I believe CCP recently reduced the number of wormhole-to-nullsec connections, to prevent their fleets from easily using them as shortcuts.

Being stuck in chains of wormholes means I also can't jumpclone back into my "main body", which is sitting in Fliet. If I can't get to nullsec soon I'll take the first exit that lets me find a station at which I can dock, then jump clone back to Fliet.

I found one wormhole today with three pirate relic sites: exactly what I'd been looking for! Sadly, my risk aversion told me that, with the killboards showing explorer ships being ganked there today, and a high-sec static exit, this probably wasn't a safe place to risk running relic sites.

* I tried to find a picture of Arnold Rimmer on vacation, touring the diesel engines on Red Dwarf, but couldn't find one :( Internet, you have failed me!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Asset Rich, ISK poor

From flickr user NoHodamon

Hi everyone, I'm back! I wasn't doing enough of interest to warrant posting, but that's changed and Ima start posting again. I have a long video of a fun and busy 3 days of Eve I played a few weeks ago. It's edited but needs a voiceover.

Trading

I seem to have found a small flaw in my trading plans: I'm doing a lot of "buy low" but opportunities to "sell high" are few and far between. As the price of Jump Freighters drifted downwards I acquired them for 6.3B or less. I assumed that the price of each would drift back up to around 7B, as they have all done regularly over the past six months.

Sadly no.  The prices just continued to drop (except on the Rhea, which I wasn't able to acquire)...and I now own eight white elephants. 4 Nomads, 3 Ark and an Anshar, which I picked up last night for just 6.1B.  When I checked the fuzzworks manufacturing calculator it says these ships cost 9-10B to make....how are they selling for 6B?!

My liquid cash is less than 300M, but I have an enormous amount of goods that I could sell: Eve estimates the JFs are worth 51B, my trade hangar stands at 19B...that's the bulk of it.

I got into this predicament by having a high resistance to selling something for a low price...I'd rather hold it and wait for the price to go back up. This was ok when I had more ISK to invest than I could easily spend, but that time is past.  I spent my last chunk of ISK on some cheap PI material and now I'm in danger of missing other bargains if I keep my stock. I now need to be aggressive in selling off what I have, starting with the items that will sell fastest and still make a profit.

I'm hoping that Fozziesov will spark something in the market that pushes the JF prices back up, and quickly. Changes in the Caldari-Gallente faction warfare system might help push datacores back up to 125-150k, where I'd see a tidy profit.

Update on 7/20/2015 - Good news! I sold my Anshar for 6.37B, amid fierce competition. In addition the price of several datacores spiked to 150K and higher and I was able to sell several thousand of them. The wallet is now fat and happy at almost 10B, the trade hanger is around 16B and I plexed my account.  I also asked a question about the cost of building jump freighters. The answer was about 7.3 - 7.4B ISK, which leads to the question "why are they almost always sold for far less than that?"

Exploration

I've dipped a toe into wormhole exploration, looking for relic sites - no luck yet, but I have completed Archaeology V and thus I'm able to use a tech II relic analyzer. This should make relic site running a lot easier. My plan is to get a clone out to deep nullsec, via wormholes, and see what I can find out there.  I've run a few low-sec combat sites with corp mates and the rewards can be great, plus you get to socialize which is always a reward in itself.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Life Speeds Up

Life Speeds Up...then it goes away


Faction Warfare Missions

I've had a productive couple of weeks lately and I think there's enough material to tell a story or two. I have been out with friends and run Level 4 faction warfare missions, earning about 360K lp in two sessions, totalling about 5 hours. The second set of missions we run seemed to be cursed from the start: my friend undocked his Proteus and the Eve server crashed. When he logged back in he found himself on the station undock, but luckily nobody had attacked him. We set off on our route and suffered two more disconnects. Most of the first missions were mine and we happily blasted through them, noting how quiet the systems were. "I've probably jinxed it now!" said my buddy.

Yes. Yes he had.

When we warped to his mission in Asakai he found a Succubus on the gate, waiting for him. He got scrammed...I landed just behind him and jumped into the mission. I wondered if he could use the acceleration gate too, but it seemed that being scrammed prevented him jumping in with me. I pressed ahead, getting into the field of rats, wondering if I should bounce out and go help my friend.

As in many engagements, the question arises, "whose friends will get here first?"...presumably our attacker had allies coming and we had nobody...but wait! Who just jumped into system?! X Gallentius, a well-known Galmil FC. I quickly convo'd him and asked if he could help. He said yes and we waited...my friend's armor was going down and a Pilgrim had landed to help the Succubus. He was being neuted too, and it was starting to look bleak.  Still no sign of our blue buddies landing.

Into structure and a couple of galmil began to arrive, but it was too late. The Proteus turned to wreckage, but the Succubus and his friend were scrammed and destroyed. The gal-bros were kind enough to send some ISK to my friend to help pay for his next ship.

My luck held and I completed my sixth and final mission on my own and headed back home, where we turned in our missions and collected our reward.

Jita Trading and PI

My Jita alt has added some Planetary Interaction skills so I could take advantage of a low-ish tax rate on a good set of POCOs I found near Jita. I did a little math and found a setup that I think will work. I screwed up my first batch and sold them for one-tenth the cost I was looking for, but I'll make that back shortly. I'm using the Customs Code Expertise to lower that tax rate even further. I'm sticking with the same setup I have in Fliet, buying level 3 PI materials and producing level 4s. I could have tried going from level 2 to level 4 but that's frankly more logistics that I care to deal with. Three-to-four will make me about 80-100K profit per unit produced, which I'm perfectly happy with.

The jump freighters I bought are on the verge of returning to higher prices so I can finally sell them. It was an interesting experiment, but too slow to be worth it. I'm going to return to the quick flip, even if the profits are lower.  Some of the other items I've been stockpiling have just had a nice price spike so I'm trying to offload them now.  I've also written a piece of software that will be capable of watching that information for me, when I get around to writing that part of it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Undocked

Suit Up! From flickr user Tom


The stars aligned and I spent three glorious hours zipping around Oto, helping pew-pew 51 Templis CALSF ships into dust before losing my Catalyst (3M isk ship with 16M loot in the hold...smrt!). Our fellow Gal Mil corp "Rapid Withdrawl" put together a sizeable fleet of cheap but effective Catalysts and we cut through their even cheaper Cormorant/Kestrel/Merlin fleets, with the odd

We close a few plexes and kept our eyes several pirate Snuffbox capsuleers that harassed both sides. They dropped fighters on us a few times, giving us the chance to kill a couple of these super-drones. They were using the soon-to-be-history "Skynet" technique, which I'd never seen in action before. Unfortunately our fleet booster lost his 400M links ship, a Loki, but in fairness Snuff also kill the CalMil booster ship too, a few minutes later.

I tried repeatedly to get my video software to record but it was in flaky mode and insisted that it couldn't. Dang it.

I'm starting to tire of industry a bit, but I've begun writing a program to help me find the juiciest opportunities. Eve Online has an extensive API that allows programmers to access price data, so I'm doing what hundreds of people have already done: write a glorified spreadsheet that will identify stuff selling cheap/expensive etc. I'm using Delphi XE7, a language for which no shared libraries exist (AFAIK), but it's been easy to write my own after having watched several videos on REST/XML support in Delphi.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Final February Profit Report

Meh. Not so hot. With all my knees-bent, running-about-advancing behaviour I didn't do much trade at all. Eve Mentat says I made 1.8B ISK profit. 650M in Jump freighters, 470M in rigs, 300M in datacores and the rest spread across other categories. My financial picture is bit muddied by increased item swapping between characters, but its small scale enough not to chase up...just a quiet month for trading.

Jump Freighter prices have been less profitable, but they're cheaper, on average, than they were in the last couple of months. So I'm trying something new; I'm buying them for 6.3 to 6.4B and waiting for the sell price to drift up towards 7B, which they all do over time. It's a bit riskier since my isk is tied up for longer, but I think that low price is a good point to get in. At the moment I own 4 (I sold two of the ones I bought earlier this month, but bought more.) And there's still 13B of stuff sitting in the hanger. A lot of the apparel I bought has dropped in value, so I'm waiting for spikes to get rid of it...that's not a great idea, actually. If I sold it for what I could get for it now, I'd be able to buy another couple of jump freighters.

But I had fun running chained distribution missions to increase my Caldari standings. My broker fees at Jita went from 0.54% to 0.34%. When I buy and sell a 6.5B Jump Freighter, that's 100M instead of 130M...I'm still paying 0.9% taxes, which I can't reduce without a 13 day train to Accounting V.

I also bought some new ships for my main to pootle around in. A blaster fit Proteus, for running level 4 faction warfare missions, and Asteros for running relic and combat sites. I took my first short dip in a wormhole in a Helios and survived a gate camp, and learned how to use the cloak/mwd trick. Oh, and I helped in the final push to recapture Heydieles for the Gallente.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Level 4 Agents Unlocked

Finally unlocked all level 4 Caldari agents

Missions

I reached another milestone, completing the last storyline mission I needed to push my Caldari State standings over 5 (5.18 to be exact), thus making all Caldari level 4 agents available to me. I ran a few level 4 distribution missions just to get a feel for it: they pay about 500 LP and 200-300K ISK each, and require up to 7000 m3 of cargo space. I've found a loop of systems around Hirtamon, 2 jumps from Jita, and doing all the level 3 and 4 distribution agents there will be a nice sideline. The level 4 agents tend to want to send you further away, though, so remember to ask twice if the first offer's destination is too far away. If the second offer is bad too, just click the Delay button and wait four hours - no standings hit :)

You can see from the picture that the storyline missions came pretty quickly; I did six of them on Feb 15th alone. Those include level 2 and 3 missions...remember, you get a storyline mission for every 15 regular missions at each difficulty level, regardless of which corp you run them for.

Jump Freighters

The jump freighters are all tradeable again, with a 300-400M gap between the buy and sell orders. With my broker fees reduced from 0.54% to 0.36% (thanks missions!) I'm saving about 20M in fees on each flip. So I currently own four, one of each model! They're all listed for sale, but the sale is usually slower than the buy.

First Wormhole Visit

I finally made a trip into a wormhole - there was a class 2 entrance in Fliet so I got my exploration Helios and went a-scanning. I'd always wanted to try the nullsec relic and data sites and since CCP added them to wormholes a few months back I'd be able to do so more easily. I'd read a couple of guides to handling wormholes, so I knew to d-scan a lot and also bookmark the entrance and any exits I used. I checked who owned the POCOs in the system and looked up their corporate zkillboard, and did the same for the wormhole itself. Not much activity in either place, so I was probably safe.

I found and started a data site, but quit halfway through: the loot was worth very little...about 500K from 3 cans. I kept probing the system and found a relic site...15M ISK, that's better! I'm going to follow the advice I've read recently and remove the data analyzer, replacing it with a rangefinding midslot module to make the probing go faster.

On the way back to my home station I flew through what I heard described on corp comms as "an instalocking gatecamp" - my Helios wasn't caught, thanks Cov Ops Cloaking Device!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Boosting Standings Through Distribution Missions


  • The Jump Freighter trade that has been so lucrative for me has dried to a trickle; I haven't successfully bought, let alone sold, one this month.
  • Planetary Interaction is also minimal this month.
  • I've added Small Energy rigs to my manufacturing rotation, make for ~15K, sell for 60-100K.
  • I skilled up to running 9 production lines at once.
  • I've bought a Proteus and some Asteros and can, time allowing, go run some level 4 faction warfare missions and small exploration combat sites.

My Distribution Mission Layout (approximately)

Why Run Distribution Missions?

Those are the bullet points for what's happened in the last couple of weeks, but the area that's been the most fun is running Level 2, then Level 3 distribution missions in order to raise my standings with the Caldari State, which I'm doing to try and cut my tax/fees bill, currently running at 2-3B ISK per month! Prior to doing these missions, my broker fee was 0.54% (it's now 0.46% after maybe 8 hours of missions). The Caldari Navy corporation, which owns Jita, already loves me lots (7+), so boosting my Caldari State standings (it was 2.7) is the most obvious improvement I can now make.

Faction standings are more than twice as important (says Eve Uni wiki) as corporate standings when it comes to determining your broker fees, so you want the Caldari State to think you're the bees knees. You can most easily raise this by running 15 missions of one type and level (i.e 16 level 2 security, or 15 level 3 distribution) for agents of ANY (ANY!) Caldari company. The company doesn't matter, do 'em all.  When the 15th is completed, a Storyline Agent will contact you and offer you a "mission which will greatly impact your faction standings." This is the juice!

The missions are easy; so far I've seen "Clear The Path", killing three easy waves of Gallente ships (done in a Rapid Light Missile Caracal), Materials of War (buy and deliver 10,000 Omber). I've done each of these several times and my faction standing is now 3.8.

Many people will advise you to track how many missions you've done, and make sure the last mission is near a Storyline Agent, because their missions give a big boost to your standings for the Storyline Agent's corporation too. I was less interested in that, so I didn't bother tracking; I just chewed through as many missions as I could.

So I bought a Nereus hull, equipped cargo optimization rigs and Expanded Cargohold IIs, learned the MWD+Cloak trick and brought up the Agent Finder. I set the Faction filter to Caldari, mission type to distribution, and went to the nearest cluster and picked up missions.


Backtracking a little: I've already done some security missions, but its been a slog. Each one takes a while, and though you can accept more than one at a time, you can only been in one mission site at a time, shooting one set of rats.  The nice thing about distribution missions is that after accepting three, four, five missions and setting off on the journey, you're working on all of them at the same time! And when you dock to deliver one cargo, you can often pick up another at the very same station! Put simply, you can do a lot of these missions, and quickly. In four hours of play, I received and ran THREE storyline missions. This raised my faction standing from 2.7 to 3.1, which unlocked all the Level 3 Caldari Agents.


Shaping The Cloud

You want to avoid accepting missions that send you too far out of the way, and I also prefer to avoid low-sec deliveries, which carry greater risk but offer no higher reward. My Nereus carries about 15km3 of cargo (soon to be more), and Level 3 missions require cargo between 1800 and 4000m3 each, so I'm usually working five or six missions at the same time. In my experience (hah!) a Level 3 Caldari distribution agent is never more than 1 or 2 jumps away.

When you talk to an agent, look at the delivery point. If its on your current route, take it: easy decision there. If not, make a note of current length of your route. Then right-click the deliver system and Add Waypoint. Then click Optimize (you're going to be using this button a lot!) If the length of your route changes by more than 2 or 3...meh...if it changes by 4 or more..that's a long way to go for just one guy.  Are there more agents along the way, and do you have the cargo space to pick up more? The more full you are, the more you want the delivery system to be very close to where you're already going. You ain't got no time to go wandering off your route for a single delivery.

With each agent you get two bites of the cherry; you can decline their first offer. Here's the new trick I just learned. You can talk to them again AND "Delay" the second offer if you don't like it. I used to never Request Mission a second time because I thought I'd be obliged to take it or have to Decline, thus taking a standings penalty. But you can safely ask again, then click "Delay" if you don't like it. The mission offer will eventually (a week later) expire and you'll get an email from the agent expressing disappointment, but you'll not be penalized. Or you can wait four hours and safely decline the mission.

The Agent Finder (I've mapped Shift-Alt-F to it) won't indicate if you're carrying cargo for an agent, so keep the journal handy (Alt-J) and make sure, before fly to talk to an agent, that you're not already working for them!

Ignore the fact that you'll miss out on most of the bonus payments; you're probably doing this for standings, not for the ISK or even the loyalty points.

Safety and Mistakes You Might Make

The stuff you're carrying is mostly worthless, but gankers sometimes kill industrial ships for the lolz. You should learn the Cloak+MWD trick, and use it if you see any combat ships at the gate when you arrive on the other side..I saw a surprising number of Tengus that just sat on the gate. Most of the time, however, I've seen mostly industrial ships or nobody at all.

Mistakes in the missions mainly means you're flying less efficiently; try not to get sent really far out of the way, especially if you're close to full already. You'd like to be making a pickup or delivery every 2 or 3 jumps.  Just last night I flew an extra five jumps to a station, just to talk to an agent. And my ship was already full, d'oh! I couldn't have accepted his mission even if I wanted to! Don't add too many agent's stations to your route just because you'd like to get missions from them. Three or four agents can fill you up.

It can be hard to remember, after a lot of adding/deleting waypoints, why a particular waypoint is on your route. The "Agents and Places" screen (Alt-E) will help a little, but you have to look at each set of places yourself. If you don't see a delivery to that system listed, you had planned to talk to an agent there, but maybe you've already picked up all the cargo you can handle.

Helping Out The Little Guys

You can, of course, work for Level 2 and Level 1 agents as well. They have, remember, their own counter to 15 missions and will generate storyline missions for you, albeit less lucrative ones. Their cargoes are much smaller and they tend to send you to closer systems, which can be a nice easy gain. I won't fly to a system JUST to talk to them, though, I pretty much only use them if they happen to be in the same station I'm already in.

I don't accept these cheaper missions if they require me to go somewhere else, pickup a thing, and bring it back to this agent. "They, Robots" comes to mind.

UI Improvements

It's easy to lose track of why a particular station or system is on your route: am I delivering there, or is there an agent I wanted to talk to? Looking at the agent finder, do I already have a mission from that particular agent? Which of these agents are along the route I'm flying?

The information to answer these questions is available, but its in several windows. One easy improvement I see is for the agents in the Agent Finder to have their names colored green if you already have accepted a mission from them. Their system name, or agent name perhaps, could be in a different color (yellow?) if it lies on your current route, just like the Market window already does.

It would be nice if the "System" list on the agent finder was restricted to the current region you were in. If I choose "The Forge", that's where I'm interested in looking.

Extra Benefit

You can run these missions easily while doing other real life tasks, such as cleaning the kitchen, and earn spouse LP :) I put the laptop on the stove and click the "jump" button every 45 seconds or so.