Monday, October 20, 2014

How I Made 15+ billion isk Shooting Starbases – Or, Unorthodox PVP Part II: POS Destruction

(A while ago, I started a series of posts about "unorthodox" PVP styles, partly out of a desire to give every form of PVP in EVE a try, starting with baiting mission runners in my first post. In this second post in the series, I explain the mechanics, tactics, and potential value in destroying offline POSes.)

This story starts back in August. Seeing that I was going to have little time for anything besides the random 15-30 minutes to log in during August and September, I “fixed” Sven's security status and got him into a Stratios with +5 attributes in his clone for skill training. Every day or so I would have 15-30 minutes to log in, so I would do some high sec exploration and work on my completionist goal of trying to visit every system in EVE.

I started in Verge Vendor, visiting some systems I've apparently never occasioned, scanning for combat sites and using dscan to look for the odd mobile structure I might blow up (a compulsive habit I have)—and maybe use to bait for some PVP. By chance, I found myself at a moon, and noticed something strange. Having almost zero experience with starbases, or POSes, I nonetheless noticed that at this moon was a starbase with dozens of modules—guns, research labs, hangar arrays—but without a force field. I was in RVB the year we destroyed EVE University's POS (probably my only other time at a POS), so I at least knew the difference between an active and an inactive POS, as well as the insane amount of people and time it would take to destroy an online POS in high security space.

I was intrigued at this offline POS with modules, so I started doing research, and I started visiting moons and dscanning for such POSes as I explored and visited new systems. As I swept through the Verge Vendor region, visiting a system or two every time I could log in for a bit, I found almost a dozen other such offline towers with modules. I learned through research that an offline tower could have it modules destroyed without destroying the tower itself (besides the guns and otherwise worthless parts). I also learned that all POS modules which could store items, from Ship Maintenance Arrays to research labs to compression arrays, could drop those items stored inside if destroyed. 

Why not see what's inside? I started a corporation on an alt (another first for me) and did some research on the owners of these POSes. They were all very small corporations, and sites like eve who suggested that they were inactive. I didn't exactly want to target active corporations, as I don't really feel like the war dec system in EVE is fair and it harms new players trying to join corporations far more than it benefits the attackers (something I hope CCP fixes in their corp rebalance soon). Not lacking the money, I declared war on the owners of all the POSes I had thus far found (yet another first for me). The 24 hour timers ran down, and I was free to engage--with no sign of the players in the corporations. One POS now had its force field up, but the others were easy targets. In my first round of POS mod destruction--finding around 9 POSes in the region of Verge Vendor--I was amazed to find drops from labs and assembly arrays in about half of the POSes. I was able to pay for the war declaration costs and then some, but I also started building up a supply of blueprints. As a trader I've always had an interest in industry, but never felt like I either knew enough, or had enough time, to incorporate industry into my trading business. I was getting tech2 and tech1 BPCs and fully researched tech1 BPOs from these POSes, and started doing research on what I might do with them all. 

I started getting loot drops such as: 

The best had yet to come. I continued these 15-30 minute bouts of playtime in Genesis, Kador, and Kor-Azor, visiting systems I've never been to, exploring and running combat sites (see my post on casual exploration in high sec for some of the results), and scanning for offline towers at moons. I found a few targets in each of these regions, usually with just 2-3 mods such as 2-3 research labs, but occasionally I would come across extensive industry POSes, with a dozen or so labs and arrays.

 This led to not one but two "jackpots," POSes that dropped over 5 billion in isk. On the first occasion it took a few trips in a freighter for all of the materials, with not a few blueprints in the mix as well: 

 The next find was even better, as it contained many fully researched BPOs for cruisers and battlecruisers: 

 In total, from August to the beginning of Octobor, I've made around 15 billion in isk--about half in materials, and then at least another 7 billion in blueprints. However, that's just the base value of the blueprints, as you can see in screenshots like the ones above. Almost all of the blueprints I found were fully researched, adding a huge amount of value. Realistically, the value of the blueprints is closer to 10-15 billion isk. 

I've learned a lot from this little side project: I've learned a bit about POS mechanics, for one, but I've also learned about industry. In fact, as of now, I've sold 90% of the blueprints and have kept a few for myself. I've finally gotten into industry as a result, doing invention on some blueprints and building tech2 items to incorporate into my trading. I've heard it said that every industrialist in EVE is also a trader--that's where most of the profit comes, anyhow--so how and where to sell these items hasn't been an issue. I will be posting soon on have I've incorporated industry into my trading.

Interestingly, I also have never heard from or seen many of the owners or corp members. Using Eve who, I added the corp members of these groups to my watch list, and I've only ever seen a few log in out of the hundreds. Out of the 50 or so corporations I have declared war on, about 13 either activated the force field on their POS or took down the POS or mods entirely .That leaves about 80% of the groups completely inactive. I assume this means that many of the owners of these POSes either quit EVE or went inactive for a long period of time--that seems like the only explanation for why so many of these POSes would have fully researched BPOs just sitting inside them. 

I have also learned that a few other groups of players specialize in this sort of activity, but not enough to make finding these offline POSes impossible--though the competition is there (e.g., on a few occasions some else has destroyed POS mods before I could get to them). For one, there is a constant turn over--groups go inactive without taking their POSes down all the time. Second, obviously, there's a lot of moons in high security space...

This type of gameplay has a lot to recommend it, not the least of which is the potential for making some isk (with the risk, of course, that you won't make any isk after spending a bunch on war dec costs). It feels like a type of exploration, not PVP. I scan for sites, warp to clusters of moons, and look for combat sites at the same time as I look for POSes without force fields up. However, such POSes can be hard to find--only a few in any given region at any given time--and also tedious to dscan down since offline POSes will often be in clusters with many offline, lone towers as well as other online towers.

This side project has also given me some experience with the state of POSes in high security space. In my opinion, there needs to be better ways to destroy towers and also more reasons to have a POS. An active POS in high security space, with hardeners and other defenses, is one of the safest assets to have in space--attempting to destroy an online, large POS in high sec requires dozens of people for what will likely be no reward. However, an even safer asset is a lone, offline tower. With the industry rebalance, some players were worried that towers in high security space would rapidly proliferate, since you no longer need standings to set up a POS, and destroying a control tower in high security space is about one of the worst things you could decide to do in EVE. Offline towers with no mods are everywhere. Dozens in each system. And there is zero reason to attempt the tedious work of destroying them (unless it is 1 jump from Jita, but that covers little space), so these towers are going to sit in space probably until the game is closed for good. For the sake of comprehensiveness, I destroyed two small towers solo when I started this project, including a faction small tower (no, I didn't use hammerheads on it the whole time...). Even with 800DPS, it took around 8 hours per tower. With laser and drone DPS, you can essentially go afk, but that's 8 hours or so for what amounts to zero reward, since towers won't be dropping loot. 

I think EVE would benefit from two changes to POSes: First, there should be more reasons to have a POS. I recall back in Ultima Online, housing spots were for a long time very limited. Almost everyone had a house and everyone wanted a house--you could design and decorate them in ways still unmatched in any MMO, but they also had many more uses than the "bank" and towns had (I remember finding my first housing spot, the smallest possible plot of land, and being insanely excited...I also remember many nights waiting for a house to decay, and the ensuing mass PVP as people tried to get all of the dropped loot). In my ideal EVE, POSes are far more useful and useful to every player, and stations are less useful and potentially destructible or ownable. Allowing jump clones in POSes would be a huge first step at this, and something that would make wormhole life far better. Second, though, offline control towers should be easier to remove. There's been lots of good suggestions for how to allow better removal--being able to hack them when offline, having their shields drop to zero when they go offline, and so on--and all of which could add interesting new gameplay.

I'm on a break from this project currently. Is this side project the sort of thing you'd be interested in doing? If you like exploration, you might enjoy it, but finding targets makes finding 4/10 combat sites in HS feel easy! How can you protect your own POS? It is pretty easy and completely obvious: If you go inactive, pack up your modules and put them in a station. Leave the tower and the guns/hardeners/etc. if you have them. If you are quitting EVE, of course, please do pack everything you own in your SMA and leave your modules up so others can have your stuff! 


  1. I found a nice Wh which has several abandoned POS. Now I am curious: Do I still have to wardec if I am in a Wh? And will I need a salvager in order to loot those POS?

    1. As far as I know, you don't need to war dec and you don't need a salvage. Some mods, like guns, were require the control tower to be removed before you can destroy or scoop them, though.