Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Your First Wormhole: Ship Types

Before moving into a wormhole system you need to make sure that you can cover all the ship type requirements to operate effectively in wormhole space. It is not necessarily the case that every pilot should be able to cover every ship type, but you should aim for at least some pilots who are able to cover most of the bases.

Scanning Scout

The scanning scout role is the most important in wormhole space, for obvious reasons. Without scouts to scan signatures, you won't be able to move around in wormhole space at all. If you end up without a scout in your home system and the current links close, you will be unable to get back, and all of your assets will be lost. It is generally a good idea to have a couple of back-up characters that are rarely used positioned in your home system in case such an eventuality should occur.

Scanning scout is a key role that every pilot should be able to cover. The skills to get into a tech 1 scanning boat, some rudimentary scanning skills and the ability to fit a cloak take just a few days to train and provide more redundancy. I ensure that any character I intend to use in wormhole space has the ability to scan themselves out - or more importantly, to provide a route for other characters back in.

While a tech 1 scanning boat is the absolute minimum, ideally you should aim for a tech 2 covert ops scanning frigate for any character that is going to be consistently used for non-support purposes in the wormhole. While tech 1 scan frigates allow you to find your way around, tech 2 covert ops ships with the covert ops cloaking devices mean that you can do so with much less risk to yourself, and without opponents gaining valuable intelligence about your character. Any link that you scan down and warp to in a tech 1 frigate will result in any watchers present seeing your character and corporation; doing the same in a covert ops frigate will mean they are none the wiser - they only know that someone has had probes out.

Site Running

Ships for running sites in wormhole space are only required if you intend to 'live off the land' - that is that the wormhole system (or those connected to it) will be providing your income and you won't be obtaining it from external sources.

The ships that you require for running sites will be dictated by the class of the wormhole system that you are in. It is a good idea to get some fits together prior to moving into wormhole space and test them by day tripping into wormhole systems, instead of moving in and finding yourself without an income source.

In general terms the ships required to run wormhole system combat sites are as follows;
  • Class 1: a well-skilled cruiser pilot can use a well-fit tech 1 cruiser to run sites, although not necessarily quickly. More likely for new entrants to wormhole space to use is a pair of tech 1 cruisers so that sleeper NPCs split their fire between the ships and they can provide mutual support through remote repair systems. A single Battlecruiser can run all of the sites in a Class 1 system by itself, even with relatively poor skills.
  • Class 2: outside of a few niche fits, basic cruisers are not really viable for running sites in Class 2 wormhole systems. Single Battlecruisers can run all of the sites but may require more skills and better fits for the tougher ones, including some of the relic and data sites. You will begin to see some Tech 3 strategic cruisers running sites in Class 2 space; this isn't something I advocate as the amount of site running required to pay for them vastly outweighs the gain in speed when gunning down NPCs.
  • Class 3: some of the sites in Class 3 space can be run with single Battlecruisers, but the fits need to be thought through carefully and the pilots will need to be well skilled. It is much more frequent to see small groups of Battlecruisers running sites, single Tech 3 cruisers, or pilots using command ships or Heavy Assault Cruisers
  • Class 4: multiple ships are all but required for running combat sites in Class 4 wormhole systems. While the sites can be run solo using a well fit Marauder, the skills and cost required mean I wouldn't recommend it for people moving into a wormhole system for the first time. Battlecruisers don't tend to have the damage projection or tank required to handle C4 sites easily; the damage applied and neuting mean that any ship relying on a local tank is going to be sorely tested. Spider tanks (where many combat ships all have remote repair systems in addition to weapons) or dedicated logistics are the safer approach to take to site-running.
There are a number of sample fits for running wormhole system wombat sites in the Know Your Wormhole Enemy series on this blog; these are probably a good starting point.


Mining can provide an alternate income source for people living off the land in wormhole space; whether through harvesting gas or going for asteroids in the ore sites. It should be noted that Sleeper NPCs will spawn at these sites after some time and so if you want to harvest all of their resources you will need a combat capable pilot to clear the hostile NPCs out.

When selecting ships for mining in wormhole space I would always err on the disposable side of the fence. Pilots with no implants should be used, and ships fitted as cheaply and lightly as possible. They will be lost, so you should seek to reduce your exposure to risk. It is possible to reduce the risk itself, through vigilance in watching the directional scanner and the system scanner, but mining and gas harvesting are not the most thrilling of pass-times and at some point attention will inevitably wander. And that is the point at which an interdictor will land in the middle of your mining operation.

Ventures are a really good choice for disposable ships, and the corp can bring in a fixed number of them with a standard fit to avoid a ton of them cluttering up the hangar.


Whether or not you want to go looking for fights in wormhole space, eventually you will find one - or one will find you. Larger groups will often leave you alone at a strategic level - or even offer you assistance - if you give them good fights, so it's a good idea for your long term safety to have some combat ships available, even if you don't feel you are particularly competent in them.

Firstly, the type of ships that you bring into the wormhole for PvP should be dictated by your wallet and your experience level. If you're new, don't put all your ISK into a blinged-out Tech 3 Strategic Cruiser; you are going to lose your first few engagements when you attack a bait ship or jump through a wormhole into a camp, so it's better to get the lie of the land in something more disposable. Battlecruisers are still a reasonable choice for wormhole PvP, and on the cheaper end Vexors can do nicely. As covered by other posts on this blog, lighter, kiting ships don't generally fare as well in wormhole space - although if you are looking to fly purely defensively in your own wormhole system a lot of their shortcomings are mitigated.

For newer pilots HAM Drakes, Myrmidons, Brutixes and Cyclones are great ships to bring in for PvP. They are all simple to fly, tanky, and do reasonable damage.

For more experienced pilots, Heavy Assault Cruisers can work wonders, but Tech 3 cruisers are the go-to ship class for most low end wormhole combat. Just make sure you can afford the ship, and the skill loss. I'd also recommend against blinging almost anything on the first few you lose buy.


If you're looking to go on the offensive and hunt for targets, things can get a bit messier. Because of the high damage output and stern tank on most Sleeper NPCs, any ships that you're looking to gank running wormhole system sites can actually kick out quite a bit of hurt. This means that there are a few main routes available to you in order to tackle targets;

  • Hope they're really dumb. This isn't a great idea, but it's surprising how many people just forget about d-scan after a while and act all surprised when a ship lands out of warp next to them. You'll need another ship to scan them down and get you a good warp in, or they'll just skedaddle. You can use any combat ship if you want to try this 'plan'.
  • Disposable frigates. You can use alternate accounts to warp in fast and hold people down for long enough for some heavy hitters to arrive and lock them down properly. There are two main downsides to this; the first is that you really do need spare accounts to do this in, as being "the guy who always explodes" isn't awesome fun for people and siterunning fits need to be able to deal with Sleeper NPC frigates. The second is that people can actually get away quite a bit of the time, because they can nuke the frigate and warp off before heavier tackle appears on the scene. Interdictors can last a little longer and do a better job of holding them down, but they're a lot more expensive to lose. You're not going to tackle more than a single siterunner in one.
  • Heavy Interdictors. Expensive, and they can be seen in warp if people are fast on d-scan. On the plus side, they don't need a lock in order to stop a target from warping off and then can hold down multiple targets.
  • Tackle T3s. Very expensive but their tanks mean that they can withstand a lot of firepower before backup arrives. Covert ops cloaks mean that they can get into an ideal tackling position before springing the trap, and if you are that way inclined an interdiction nullifier can allow them to scarper from quite a variety of counter-ambushes.
  • Arazu / Lachesis. The long tackle range is great, and damping can allow you to avoid fire, but more than one siterunner can cause severe headaches, and Sleeper NPCs can force you off of the field surprisingly quickly.
There's a great deal more to be said about tackling siterunners in wormhole space, and I'll try and get another post out with some details at some point. My personal choice is to use tackle T3s, but an Arazu or Lachesis is probably a good starting point for a new corp to get used to tackling people on sites. Just don't forget that Sleeper damage


You're going to need ships to bring in fuel and ammo, and you're probably going to want ships to cart Planetary Interaction materials around. Dirt cheap ships with warp core stabilizers and nanofiber internal structures are the way to go; scouting is your real safety, don't try to tank them.

Slightly more complicated is how you're going to get Sleeper loot out. It's not massively high volume, so I'd actually suggest using a T3 or other heavily tanked ship - if you're scouted out of wormhole space then your main threat is actually hi-sec gankers. Just don't use a T1 hauler.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Your First Wormhole: Finding It

Finding the right wormhole system for you and your group comes down to a simple choice; spend time hunting for an acceptable system, or pay someone to get the location of one.

Firstly, it's a good idea to work out what an acceptable system is for you, and if it's going to be viable to find one. The class of the system you want to move into, the type of statics you would like, the PI requirements and wormhole system effects will narrow the number of systems that are suitable for you to move into, and there's also a good chance that any system is already occupied.

If you're intending to be particularly fussy about the exact combos that you'll settle for, it's probably a good idea to check out the list of all wormhole systems that can be found here. You can check their details out and cross reference their J-numbers on wh.pasta.gg to check for potential existing occupants. If you're after a particular system type that is scarce or already taken it might be time to re-think how cast in iron your requirements are. Either that or hire mercenaries.

Regardless of whether you've got a list of systems as long as your arm or one perfect system that you're going to need to hire mercenaries to take from the occupants, the next step will be trying to find a way in.

Finding a way in

Finding a particular system as a small corporation is, frankly, next to impossible. If you're not looking at a good list of potential systems that you'd be happy with, just scanning in from k-space is almost certainly not going to work - the odds are just too stacked against it. A good alternative can be to find a system which has a static link that is of the wormhole system type you want to find, for example, if I want to find a particular C2 with C3 and High-sec static then I could make a temporary base in a Class 2 system with Class 2 and low-sec static links. You can then roll the link until you find a suitable system.

You can work out what the chance is of rolling your link into a system that you're interested in by dividing the number of potential systems you have identified by the total number of systems of that class. For example, if I've identified 11 class-2 systems that would make an acceptable home for my corporation:

(11 / 525) = 0.020952380952381

Which means there is around a 2.1% chance of rolling into one of my target systems every time I roll the wormhole link. As of current writing it is believed that the link spawning is entirely random (I have been present when our corporation has rolled directly into the same system that the old static link went to), and so you can work out the chance of having found it after X rolls by:

1 - ( (1 - (number of acceptable systems / number of systems of class) ) ^ X )

So, to use my class-2 system example, and estimating that I would be able or willing to roll 10 times a night, the likelihood of finding a good system on a given night is:
1 - ( ( 1 - ( 11 / 525 ) ) ^ 10 ) = 0.19083301280602388597587512465145
Or round about a 19% chance per evening. There is a good chance that it will take quite a few evenings of rolling to find a potential new home, and while there might be considered to be a certain pride to having found your system yourself, the costs add up. There is the fuel for the tower you are basing out of, and the cost of the ships that you will almost inevitably lose while rolling the wormhole. But there is also the opportunity cost; the gain you have missed out on while spending time waiting for polarization timers to tick down.

Level 4 missioning in high security space will get you around 70M isk an hour, and you're likely to have at least four or five people required to quickly and safely roll your wormhole link. The opportunity cost of running a wormhole-rolling crew will easily be 4-500M per evening.

Which leads conveniently to the other option that is available to you; buying a system.

Buying your way in

Let's be clear; what you're actually buying is a bookmark (or a series of bookmarks) to a target system, and potentially some assets within that system (such as customs offices or capital ships). The price can vary wildly, dependent on the system, but one thing is constant - you'll want to use a broker.

Because there is no single item you can trade or contract that represents the system and the set of guarantees about the system that the seller has made, any transfer of the bookmarks into the system is a ripe opportunity for villainy. The money is handed over first, the seller can refuse to provide the bookmarks, the system could be occupied, or the entire thing could be a trap. The bookmarks are handed over first and the buyer can refuse to hand over the money.

To get around this a trusted third party is used as a broker; they typically charge 10% of the cost of the system, half of which is paid by the buyer and half by the seller, unless otherwise arranged. The money is provided by both parties, and the exact terms of the sale are explained to the broker - such as capital ship handover, the expectation of existing active occupants, etc. The seller then provides an entry location and bookmarks required to get into the system. The buyer moves in and verifies that the system is in the state that was claimed, POCOs are handed over, etc. The buyer then confirms that everything is fine and the broker releases the money to the seller.

If anything is found to be amiss, the broker can withhold the money from the seller until the situation is resolved. In general sales organized through brokers go off without a hitch; I would never risk a wormhole sale without one.

Yes, I will happily act as a broker - but the major players are Taggart Transdimensional and Virtue of Selfishness and if you're active in the US time zone they are definitely your best bet. They do (as of writing) have a lack of brokers in the EU time zone, so you may need to look for smaller, independent brokers - although it's a good idea to try and check whether they have any links to the entity you are dealing with or check for feedback on the eve online forums.

Monday, 9 February 2015

2015-02 Sitrep

I thought it was worth posting an update as there hasn't been a content post on the blog for a while.

There are a few pieces currently undergoing work, but my game play in EVE has changed significantly since I started on this blogging project. With the changes to random or 'wandering' wormholes in Hyperion, the number of links that we were seeing in our new C4 home system with a static C2 and C3 link was just too large for our corporation to handle. We were frequently seeing five or more inbound links a night, and were frequently getting linked into by larger wormhole corporations that we did not have the manpower or ISK to take on directly.

As a result we decided to move out of our C4 and try life in a C3 with a static low-sec link. The good news was that with our reduced numbers this let us run sites without putting too much on the line, and the presence of null-sec quality data and relic sites allowed our newer pilots to still have a reasonable income. All credit to where it is due to Corbexx for helping get the blue loot income increase and null-sec sites into lower class systems!

However, even inside our Class 3 system we had a number of evenings where we had ten (or greater!) links into and out of the system, and the low-sec static link failed to provide consistent roaming opportunities. Aridia was not a good hunting ground for us. Faction warfare space, however, seemed to be providing consistent and interesting PvP opportunities.

As a result, we have decided to move out of our wormhole and give Faction Warfare a try. I'll probably start a series of posts on the blog charting our movement into Faction Warfare, but will continue adding wormhole-related posts as I finish them.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Your First Wormhole: Player Owned Starbases

Once the decision to move into a wormhole has been made, one of the most intimidating changes is that everything you do will likely be based out of one - or more - Player Owned Starbases, POS for short. And because everything is based out of that POS the selection of its type, set-up of its defences and configuration of its security become of paramount importance. If you have used POS before, the difference may be a little less scary, but if they are an unknown quantity what you don't know can kill you. And your stuff. And your corpmates' stuff.

POS Security

As your entire corporation's assets in the wormhole are inside the Player Owned Starbase, security is of the utmost importance. Underestimating it's importance is a fantastic way for your corporation to lose everything it has. Also, what's your corporation name and can I join?

The POS interface allows you to set which corporation roles are allowed to access and / or use the different POS modules that you have deployed. The roles are a linear progression from lowest security to highest security;
  1. Alliance
  2. Corporation
  3. Starbase Fuel Technician
  4. Config Starbase Equipment
As these roles can be set on a per-module basis, you can provide different services or even the same service from different modules for different pilots according to their roles. The problem is that you cannot separate out the access of different pilots from each other within a given role, and that a given role will allow access to all tiers below it.

This means that if you follow a simple tiered approach to security a new recruit will be able to get access to all of the ships that other pilots at the same security level have brought into the wormhole - which can be of significant value. The problem is then exacerbated at higher security tiers as they get access to all the ships of the tiers below them.

This used to be the case with modules and loot as well as ships, but the relatively-recently released Personal Hangar Array allows pilots individual storage with no such security issues. It should be noted that the capacity of the personal hangar array means that ships cannot be stored in it - it can only contain 50,000m^3 per pilot.

So, what's the solution? If you have an entirely trustworthy corporation you could base out of a single POS, but if you ever hope to recruit that is simply not a viable option. The tiered model described above can work in a limited arrangement, but as numbers scale you will likely want more fine-grained control over who has access to various modules. The only current solution is multiple POSes.

How do multiple POSes help?
POSes can be set up so that access is governed by corporation membership, but the other option that is available is to disallow corporation access and work entirely with POS passwords. This means that you can build up small groups of pilots who reside in each POS and they can only get access to each others ships and modules. The security is obviously not fool-proof; passwords can be guessed, passwords can be shared, and unless a one-pilot per POS regime is instigated anyone intent on stealing will still manage to get away with some of the property of other members of the corporation. It's not perfect, but it is the best that is currently available.

The downsides are manifold. It's much more expensive to set up, it takes longer to set up and longer to take down in the event of evacuation. The fuel costs are astronomically higher, and it sets up a feeling of segregation - which is understandable given that everyone is segregated. The multitude of (usually) smaller towers can be a tempting target for other groups as the towers have significantly lower hitpoints and fewer defences.

At the end of the day, the security of you POS is up to you, but it's best to give it a great deal of thought; make sure you can justify your choice.

What POS Modules do I need?

The POS modules that you need will be dictated by what you want to use your POS for, and the defensive strategy that you are intending to use.

Many industrial uses require a significant amount of powergrid and CPU from the POS tower for various silos and assembly arrays, and their requirements are exacerbated if it is desirable to leave them online at all times. Their fitting requirements mean that there will be significantly less available for defences, and so I would always recommend that a separate POS is used for industrial endeavours, not the main POS that you have in the system.

An additional consideration with industrial POSes is that in order to re-configure silos and get the most out of them for industry pilots require the 'Config Starbase Equipment' role, allowing them to on and offline POS modules - a clear security risk.

Your main POS will need:
  • Corporate Hangar Array: to allow your corporation's members to store non-ship items in the POS. This has different hangar divisions that you can control access to in the same way that you would at a corporation office in a k-space station. The role that will give access to CHA divisions is "Station (Other)"
  • Ship Maintenance Array: in order to store and outfit ships at the POS you will need an SMA. There are no divisions available within SMAs, so anyone who has access to the SMA will have access to all the ships within it.
  • Defences: a bit of a catch all, but there are lots of different ways to outfit your tower defensively. The next section will look at some of the general concepts, but you will usually have at least one POS that has spent the vast majority of its fitting on defences to provide a bastion if attacked.
A Personal Hangar Array is an option, but - in my opinion - its usefulness is very limited. As you cannot store ships in it due to capacity, it is limited to modules and loot - and the vast majority of the value in a POS will be the ships in its SMA. If you put a PHA in place you are therefore using a lot of fitting that could be used for defences on something with relatively little utility.

What POS defences should I use?

There are a few standard configurations for POS tower defences, all with their own pros and cons.

"Deathstars" are set up so that a significant force is needed to take the tower down, or the attacking force will be destroyed by the tower. They include webifiers and points to help with damage application and hold targets down, but the main part of the defence is as many turrets as possible. It's worth noting that you should not rely on missile launchers on your POS, as they require CPU to operate and any modules that require CPU shut down when the POS goes into reinforced mode.

"Dickstars", as they are known, just try to make the process of taking the POS down as painful and frustrating for the attackers as possible. They frequently rely heavily on ECM, damping and energy neutralization modules to make it hard for attackers to apply damage to the POS or logistics to apply repairs to their friendly ships. They don't normally have many, if any, turrets on them; those that are there are to pick off stray ships that were daft enough to warp to the POS uncloaked, or were uncloaked by the defences.

Most POSes are somewhere between the two extremes, with a variety of defensive modules that aim to disrupt the attackers and kill them when possible.

The vast majority of POSes have a huge number of defences that aren't onlined most of the time. If an attack is on-going other tower modules can be offlined and more defences can be brought online - or if you are particularly hard nosed about getting the most out of your tower you can always offline non-defence modules whenever you log off in order to bring more defences online.

It can be worth looking at investing in faction defensive modules as they both require less fitting - allowing you to put more of them online, and they also are more effective than their non-faction counterparts. This double-whammy allows you to pack significantly more punch into your tower defences, if you are happy with paying the sometimes substantial price.

What type of POS tower should I use?

The main choices you will have are the size of the tower, whether to go for a faction tower or not, and which specific race's tower to go for.

For a single tower, the only real choice is to go for a large one, as all of your eggs are in one basket and you want the maximum defences that can be fielded. Just the base hitpoints on the shield of a large tower is generally enough to put off groups from attempting a siege in lower-class wormhole systems. Hardeners and other defensive modules increase the defences still further.

If you are using a multiple POS configuration, a variety of small and medium towers may well serve your needs. You can operate with the intent to move assets around the POSes in case of attack, so opponents need to siege several towers to cause any significant loss.

Faction towers use less fuel up than normal towers, and have better base defensive stats. This is balanced with a vastly increased cost. For a long time the blueprints required to create these towers were not spawning in EVE; although this has now supposedly been fixed I have not seen any drop personally and the price of a good large faction tower continues to hover north of the 2 billion ISK mark.

There are two tiers of faction towers. The first offers a 10% improvement on fuel usage, such as the Angel towers, while the second provides a 20% improvement, such as the Domination towers. They will be a significant risk to move around due to suicide gankers, and it will take significant time for the initial investment to pay off in reduced fuel costs, if that is the primary motivator for the purchase. A less immediately tangible benefit is that the reduced fuel usage also results in a reduced logistics burden.

When it comes to selecting exactly which racial tower to use, you should be guided by the fitting requirements of the modules and defences that you are planning to use, although it's also worth looking at the historical cost of fuel blocks for that particular racial tower. Different racial towers also give bonuses to different aspects of the POS such as silo capacities, or defensive capabilities in a similar way to ships. It's not worth copying and pasting all the details into a blog post, but time should be taken to go through the different towers and think about the consequences of each.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Post Hyperion Analysis

A couple of months ago I posted a set of predictions about how Wormhole space would change after the Hyperion update. The predictions were not massively far reaching, but I feel it's worth looking back at them and trying to see how accurate they were, followed by a look at how things have shaken out - at least from my perspective.

The predictions I made were:

  • W-space combat meta could shift somewhat
  • There would be fewer capital engagements in w-space
  • There would be less rage-rolling
  • Wormhole chains would be longer
  • There would be an increase in the risk of running PvE sites
  • C4 residents would move out and new ones move in as the C4 landscape changed

Unfortunately CCP have not yet provided any statistics about what the consequences of the wormhole changes have been - despite the wormhole CSM representative bugging CCP Fozzie about it;

So we have to make do with the information we can glean from our observations and the limited data available to us. By their nature the observations of players are biased towards what they expect, and are limited in scope to what is in their surroundings. Many of the overarching statistics that have been available in the past on wormhole space systems were removed from the API a many updates ago, and so getting an overall picture of the activity in wormhole space is more difficult than it would have been with jump statistics and NPC kills statistics.

My original intent was to go through each of my prediction points and comment on their accuracy individually, but the changes have impacted many of them in the same ways. Nevertheless, I will attempt to group them up and address them on group at a time, where applicable.

C4 Resident Roundabout

I would categorise this prediction as spot on; although it is not particularly surprising that that is the case. Immediately prior to the Hyperion release I saw a large number of class 4 system residents moving out of their home residents as the test server allowed them to identify what their static was and whether I was to their liking - my own wormhole group was one of these corporations, looking to move somewhere to get a better income stream.

Another data point, though not highly scientific, is that after the Hyperion release I have yet to find any Class 4 systems where wh.pasta.gg is correct on the current residents!

Less Rage Rolling

Since the update there have been noticeably fewer people rolling wormhole links than there previously were. While the removal of the jumps data from the API means that hard data about the number of jumps in wormhole systems is no longer available, it was normal to encounter a few links over the course of the evening that had been rolled or where people were observed in thru act of rolling. Since the Hyperion release our scouts have only encountered a handful of links that we know have been rolled, and only seen two groups actually roll a wormhole link.

Fewer Capital Engagements

This data can still be obtained from killboards but takes some effort to pull together. A tweet from a community members who has crunched the data suggests that month on month the number of capital ships lost has fallen dramatically.

This is not, however, comparing the same month from one year to another, and there are other pressures within Eve that cause fluctuations in activity from month to month.

Longer Wormhole Chains

I expected the new frigate wormhole links, additional statics for Class 4 systems and an increased incidence of wandering wormhole links to result in longer wormhole chains, but it is safe to say I didn't expect chains to grow to their current extent. It is quite normal to find five or more inbound links to a wormhole system; recently our home system had nine inbound links. Wormhole space is now massively connected, more so than any other space in Eve, if bridging and jumping abilities are not taken into account. I would now go so far as to characterize wormhole space as having webs, rather than chains.

W-space combat meta and PvE site running risks

Since the Hyperion release the number of ships that our scouts have seen active in wormhole space have dropped off massively. Since the patch has hit we have only seen five groups of pilots running sites in wormhole space. The number of groups we have seen who are trying to get into combat situations are so low that we cannot draw any conclusions about significant changes to the w-space combat meta. The killboards of other wormhole space corporations suggest that the Hyperion changes to mass based spawn distances have not shaken out in the way I expected; there has not been a significant shift towards 100MN kiting cruisers. So I'll call that one hit and one miss.


While some of my predictions were broadly correct and others clearly wrong, I am more concerned at the moment with the overall health of wormhole space. The amount of activity that my corporation has seen is massively reduced compared to the pre-Hyperion levels that we observed. Our own methods of moving and hunting through wormhole space have changed significantly with the patch, and my suspicion is that other corporations are finding the same problems that we have encountered.

Our normal methods of operation, as can be gathered from other posts in this blog, are to scout our targets carefully and field an appropriate force to engage them. Our disadvantage in numbers is made up for by an advantage in intel on our opponents; we seek to win the fight and then have it.

Since the Hyperion release almost every evening has started with our scouts logging in to find inbound links to home system. This indicates that hostile forces have opened the link, and there is a good chance that we have unfriendly eyes watching our starbase, watching our system, looking for our pilots as they log on. Prior to Hyperion this happened as well, of course, but there were some key differences.

Before Hyperion, if we had an inbound link we would send a scout to investigate it and the onward links to see if there were any particularly menacing entities in the wormhole chain. We would look at any likely aggressors, and try and identify if they were present. We would add their pilots to watch lists to see how many were online, and look at their killboards to identify which ships they were likely to attack and see if we could bait them out. If we determined that they weren't around any longer and our baiting attempts were unsuccessful, we would use an Orca and battleships to roll the link as quickly as possible to reduce exposure to potential risk.

In a post-Hyperion Eve, our home system does not have a single inbound link, it has two. Or sometimes four. Or on one recent occasion, as I have mentioned, nine. And each of those inbound link has a multitude of links into it, and they have a multitude of links into them. We simply don't have the manpower to scan down the number of links that are present, and so can't obtain a picture of how much risk we exposed to at any given time.

Without that intel, we are paralyzed. Unknown space is truly unknown, and that means we have nothing to base our decisions on. It may be different for other groups, but we came to w-space for methodical, careful combat, where intelligence gathering and outwitting your opponent were key. Now, it's a roll of the dice, and you don't even know how many sides it's got, or who you are playing against, or what you need to roll to win.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Your First Wormhole: System Selection

This is the second post in the Your First Wormhole series; it will be examining the different choices available to you when you are trying to work out what your ideal wormhole system will be.

The selections available are combinations of five variables;
  • System class
  • Static class
  • Wormhole effects present
  • Planets present
  • System topology
There are different combinations that are particularly effective for certain styles of play - I'm going to take a look through the system effects, planet configurations and system topology considerations first before moving onto different system classes and their statics.

Wormhole System Effects

Wormhole system effects can have significant impact on the choice of fleet doctrines for both PvP and PvE. A fleet tailored for the system effect in a given home system will generally provide the defenders with a significant home field advantage, and so might be considered a good thing to recommend for newer corporations as they can focus on a particular set of skills that complement their home system.

Although that is the case, you can end up in a situation where newer players who have specialized in the 'wrong' type of ship get penalized; a character with only turret skills in a Black Hole, for instance. It is worth noting that wormhole system effects do not affect Sleeper NPCs and so they can give an advantage to site running. The effectiveness of wormhole system effects scales up with wormhole class; a good reference point for the exact effect values is the Hyperion wormhole update blog.

  • Magnetars give a straight bonus to damage, albeit with penalties to tracking speed, range, explosion velocity and the effectiveness of target painters. In simple terms, you'll have more problems tracking and hitting smaller classes ships - whether they be Sleeper NPCs or players - but there will be more damage damage applied to targets you can hit.
  • Red Giants provide a bonus to the effects of overheating, smartbomb damage and range, and the damage of bombs fired from bomb launchers. The only penalty they provide is to the amount of heat damage that modules take when being overloaded, so this is actually a fairly 'vanilla' wormhole type for most intents.
  • Pulsars provide an increase in raw shield hitpoints (and therefore the passive recharge rate of shields), the rate at which capacitors recharge, and the drain amount of energy nosferatus and neutralizers. Their penalties affect armour resistances and the signature radius of ships. Given that the majority of wormhole groups use armour tanking fleet doctrines, having a system that applies penalties to the 'standard' setup while taking that into account with your home defense fleet can give a massive home defense advantage.
  • Wolf Rayets boost armour hitpoints and small weapon damage, while reducing the signature radius of ships and shield resistances. Obviously using shield ships in here is a Bad Idea™. The bonus to small weapon damage is massive, ranging from +60% to +200% (or triple base damage), and while that makes setting up a frigate-based defence fleet very tempting and effective, it does mean that any site running is at significant risk from any frigate-size wormholes that link into the system.
  • Cataclysmic Variables reduce the effectiveness of local armour and shield repairs, remote capacitor transfers and capacitor recharge time. They have bonuses to the capacity of ships' capacitors and to the effectiveness of remote shield and armour repairers. This can make it more difficult to run sites solo if fits are relying on active local tanks, but can give a bit of a boost if you are intending to use spider tanking.
  • Black Holes have been significantly changed in the Hyperion release; they have bonuses to ship speed, targetting range, the velocity of missiles and the velocity of missile explosions - increasing missile range and the effectiveness of missiles against fast targets. Meanwhile they have negative effects on the strength of stasis webifiers and on the manoeuvrability of ships. This combination has made Black Hole systems into a missile kiters dream, while severely impacting the effectiveness of turret based ships.

In general, for a first wormhole system I would suggest shying away from a wormhole system with an effect in it. If you feel compelled to do so, Pulsars, Red Giants or Magnetars are probably the more accommodating system effects.

Planets Present

In general, wormhole systems that have all of the planets required for producing prerequisites for POS fuel are more desirable than those without. They command a higher price when being sold, and are generally in higher demand. Also a concern is the number of planets present - the more planets available in a system the better a base it will make for planetary interaction as there will be a greater total amount of resources available for harvest.

Although raw materials for POS fuel are a concern, it doesn't mean that wormholes without the perfect mix of POS fuel planets are useless - far from it. If a system is primarily being used as a base for planetary interaction and goods manufacture, there will likely be a large number of industrial ships heading out with the finished products for sale. If they fly back with fuel instead of empty no additional hauling is required - although there is an increase in the overall risk as a returning hauler will (on average) be worth a great deal more.

System Topology

Something that first-time inhabitants of wormhole space often overlook is the topology of the system and whether it serves their needs. Systems where everything is within range of the directional scanner are great if you are playing "defensively" - that is, if you are looking to be alerted to people entering the system so that you can get the hell out of the way. Systems that are more spread out are better suited to groups that are more predatory; they provide inhabitants with the opportunity to bring more forces online and move people into or out of the system when they are out of directional scan range of opposing players.

System Class & Static

Class 1 wormhole systems have a single static known-space wormhole link. All links into or out of a Class 1 system have a maximum mass of 20,000,000kg which limits ships that can enter them to Battlecruiser hulls or below, with the exception of the Nestor Battleship. This has the side effect of making the wormhole links extremely time consuming and haphazard to roll, so typically Class 1 system inhabitants are stuck with whatever links they have when they log in - they are unable to control the links into their system effectively. They have a reasonably high incidence of wandering links connecting them to high-sec space.
  • High-sec static Class 1 systems are often used by small industrial groups, both for planetary interaction and for POS manufacture and research.
  • Low-sec static Class 1 systems are primarily used by groups that intend to make money from planetary interaction and find their PVP by roaming in low-sec. These systems are no-where near as isolated as Class 1 systems with null-sec statics as they don't have to deal with warp disruption bubbles when dealing with logistics, and will end up with their static one or two jumps out of high-sec space reasonably frequently.
  • Null-sec static Class 1 systems are rarely occupied. In my experience any inhabitants are usually extremely small corps that don't want to be disturbed, occasionally run their sites and do planetary interaction. They will then run out their ill-gotten gains via wandering high-sec links whenever they appear, and normally operate out of small towers to reduce the logistics burden.
Class 2 wormhole systems have two static wormhole links - one to known space and one to another wormhole space system. Links into Class 2 systems can take ships up to and including the Orca, so Battleships can be brought into the system and the links can be rolled much more easily.

Sites in Class 2 systems pay out both inconsistently and relatively poorly, as the majority of the isk from them comes in the form of Melted Nanoribbons. Melted Nanoribbons are a random salvage drop that has fallen from a high water mark of around 8 million isk to a current level of 4 million, severely impacting the profitability of lower-end wormhole space.
  • Class 1 and High-sec static Class 2 systems are typically used by industrial groups or very small corporations who want to test the water in wormhole space and see what it entails. It allows them to get used to scanning, setting up player owned starbases, and generally living where everything and everyone is trying to kill them.
  • Class 2 and Low-sec static Class 2 systems are frequently used by small corporations who are in wormhole space to live off the land and PvP, or larger PvP groups that have alternative income streams. Although there is not a huge amount of money to be made from farming the static link, the combination of low-security space and highly connected wormhole space systems means that that Class 2 systems with C2/LS static links used to be one of the favoured retreats for players who wanted as much sub-capital small-gang combat as they could get. Since the Hyperion release and dual-static class four systems this has changed to an extent, but if you have the money from other sources and want to shoot people, this type of system is still a great place to be based.
  • Class 3 and High-sec static Class 2 systems are one of the most desirable wormhole systems for small corporations who want to make money from wormhole sites without giving up the convenience of access to high-security space. The static C3 link can be rolled using Orcas or Battleships to get access to new Class 3 sites to run, and the difficulty of the sites in the static means they can be run relatively easily with small groups or by individuals.
  • Class 4 and High-sec static Class 2 systems used to mainly be populated by groups who wanted to use their Class 4 static link for site-running, as with the C3/HS static systems, but Hyperion has changed their utility significantly. Post-Hyperion Class 2 systems with a Class 4 static provide a great PvP opportunity, as the Class 4 system will have two w-space links that can be used to look for targets. Simultaneously the static hi-sec link means that a lot of the logistics issues in wormhole space are significantly eased, and any pilots that lose their pods in PvP somewhere down the wormhole chain can usually get back into the home system without having to traverse hostile systems. The static Class 4 can still be used for site-running, but the high cost of the ships required to run C4 sites in small numbers can make this a relatively risky proposition.
  • Class 5 and Null-sec static Class 2 systems are rarely occupied; the Null-sec static can be good for organizing roams, but the Class 5 static link doesn't provide a huge advantage compared to a Class 4 for making isk given capital escalations are not available. Class 5 resident corporations will generally have a much larger income and a higher number of active pilots than those resident in a C2; something to take into account if you are looking to move into one.
  • Class 6 and Null-sec static Class 2 systems are rarely occupied, and are the same as static C5/NS Class two systems in most particulars.
Class 3 wormhole systems have a single known-space static link. Links into Class 3 wormhole systems can take ships up to and including the Orca. As there are no Class 3 systems with w-space static links, they are similar to C1 systems in that they are usually less-connected to wormhole space than other classes of wormhole system. Unlike Class 1 systems, Class 3 systems can support larger ships through their links and so are more likely to be used as a transit route to known space for other wormhole inhabitants that link into them.
  • High-sec static Class 3 systems are generally inhabited by small corporations with a handful of active members on at any given time. Home system sites will be run to make isk, often alongside industry and planetary interaction.
  • Low-sec static Class 3 systems are often found unoccupied. Most occupants are similar to those found in C3/HS systems but with either a desire for PvP availability through a low-security space link or because either they are less concerned about the risks of low sec than most industrialists, or their industrial work benefits directly from low-sec markets.
  • Null-sec static Class 3 systems are usually unoccupied. They provide few advantages for industrialists compared to having a low-sec or high-sec static link
Class 4 wormhole systems have two wormhole-space static links. Links into Class 4 wormhole systems can take ships up to and including the Orca. There are a huge number of combinations of the two static wormhole link types, so for any given combination, combine the comments below.
  • Class 1 static links provide a Class 4 system with sites for newer pilots to run solo or in very small groups. The income is not amazing, but some measurements put it as better isk per hour than running Class 2 system sites. One issue with a Class 1 link is the aforementioned difficulty of rolling it; this can leave the inhabitants of the C4 in a situation where their back door is ajar, can't be easily shut, and any activity they take part in is at risk. This necessitates leaving a pilot by the link in case a hostile fleet comes knocking.
  • Class 2 static links provide a Class 4 system with a great opportunity for PVP hunting in wormhole space; C2 chains can run for many, many systems and Class 2 systems are reasonably heavily occupied. The sites in the C2 can be run by newer pilots solo for some income if they want to supplement what they make from home system sites with the rest of the group.
  • Class 3 static links provide a Class 4 system with an excellent potential income stream for solo pilots and a chance to get a direct link to a useful known-space system (whatever your definition of 'useful' might be). From personal experience there is less chance of combat happening in Class 3 systems unless you manage to luck into someone running some sites in the system.
  • Class 4 static links provide a Class 4 system with another two w-space links to branch out of - Class 4 systems with a Class 4 static provide one a real hub for scouting out w-space and looking for targets of opportunity. Given the number of links in Class 4 as of writing, running sites may not be the safest of passtimes.
  • Class 5 static links provide a Class 4 system with sites that are more lucrative than those in the home system, although not by a great deal. As most Class 5 and 6 residents will have capital ships available to them, engaging the residents in PvP on their home turf will rarely be a good idea unless you are well prepared.
  • Class 6 static links provide a Class 4 system with the same 'benefits' that are provided by a static Class 5 link, but with the dials turned up a little. The residents are likely better funded and equipped, are more likely to have and use capital support, and the sites make a little more isk.
A notable combination of statics for Class 4 systems is a static C2 and C4 link; it provides the best possible combination for hunting in the sub-capital areas of wormhole space with a minimum of five w-space systems available for exploration.

Class 5 wormhole systems have a single wormhole-space static link. Links into Class 5 wormhole systems from Class 5-6 systems or from Low-sec and Null-sec known space can take ships up to and including capital ships (carriers and dreadnoughts). Links into Class 5 wormhole systems from lower-class systems are limited to the mass supported by the lower-class side of the link. Most of my experience is in lower-class wormhole systems, and so the information on these systems below is based on the words of others, not personal experience. For a group that is newly formed and has no experience of wormhole space I would recommend they not move into a Class 5 system until they have acclimatised themselves to wormhole space mechanics in general.

As links from low or null sec space or from Class 5 or 6 wormholes can carry capital ships into Class 5 systems, the inhabitants need to be prepared for capital warfare, usually by ensuring they have sufficient capital ships and pilots themselves.
  • Class 1 static Class 5 systems are typically used by corporations who wish to run sites in their home system unhindered. Even if the static link is open most corporations who are resident in Class 1 wormhole systems will see a Class 5 link and stay the hell away from it. Those that don't avoid the wormhole link like the plague are unlikely to be able to field the firepower to take down a Class 5 capital escalation group.
  • Class 2 static Class 5 systems are frequently used by PvP groups who want to be able to obtain isk by running their home system sites in relative safety. They can then use their Class 2 static to look for PvP targets or to gain access to known space for roaming or logistics purposes.
  • Class 3 static Class 5 systems are great for small groups of relatively well skilled pilots who are looking to make a large amount of isk. Home system sites can be run and escalated for cash and when the available pilot numbers are too small to run Class 5 sites, the static link can be used to run sites instead.
  • Class 4 static Class 5 systems now provide residents with a great way to get k-space systems to hunt through while providing great income from escalating home system sites.
  • Class 5-6 static Class 5 systems are used by two general types of corporations. The first are people who want to have access to more C5/6 systems to farm, although you can only get limited capital escalations in a static link and doing that is fraught with danger. The second group are those who want to find more large wormhole corporations to fight, often with expensive fits and capital ships on field.
Class 6 wormhole systems have a single wormhole-space static link. Most of my experience is in lower-class wormhole systems, and so the information on these systems below is based on the words of others, not personal experience.

That said, I can think of relatively few situations where the first wormhole system an otherwise w-space inexperienced corporation would move into is a Class 6 system. There are relatively few Class 6 wormhole systems and so getting access to a given one via rolling wormholes is significantly more viable than with other classes of space - this can make it more risky for a corporation as if they manage to irritate someone enough to come hunting for them, they will be found more easily. Corporations in a Class 6 wormhole system need to expect to engage in capital ship combat; sooner or later their opponents will be.
  • Class 1-5 static Class 6 systems are functionally similar to C5/C1-5 systems, save for the increased risk of the system being hunted down.
  • Class 6 static Class 6 systems are typically used by those who are hunting other Class 6 occupants; most of them are now unoccupied as the number of inhabitants in Class 6 space has dropped off sharply.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Your First Wormhole: W-Space Gameplay Types

If you are completely unaware of what wormhole space is like in EVE Online, a good starting place is my Introduction to Wormholes post. The goal of this entry is to give an overview of the different types of game play that you can find in wormhole life, and some of the aspects of said game play that might not be immediately apparent to the casual observer.

First of all, wormhole space is not for everyone. There a great many different avenues to explore in wormhole space but the constant that links them is the mind set that is required to succeed. Whether the goal is to make money or find targets to engage in PVP, wormhole space rewards careful scouting, consideration of risks and a methodical, thoughtful style of play.

You don't need to play as described, but wormhole space systems are littered with the ship wrecks of those who have tried to run PI without checking to see if their system is secure, and the abandoned POSes of industrialists who could not turn a profit due to continual losses. If your objective is PVP, most prefer to do so without a killboard deep in the red - even if those losses can be sustained due to high income sites in the upper tiers of wormhole space.


From a PVP perspective there are a great many excellent videos of wormhole space hunting and combat that can be found online, but by their nature they cover the interesting parts of PVP engagements. They can make wormhole space PVP seem significantly busier and more consistently tense and exciting than it is.

Finding PVP targets is often a lengthy, laborious process. Multiple evenings can go by without even seeing another manned ship in space. Those ships that are found are often sat inside a POS and only leave to do a PI run or warp to a link to high security space and jump out. If you play at a non standard time zone this can be an even more significant problem.

If you enjoy the hunting and intelligence gathering style of game play, and can put up with potentially lengthy dry periods, then wormhole space in the lower class systems may be exactly what you are looking for.

Higher class wormhole systems have traditionally provided slightly more consistent PVP opportunities; a well-known subset of wormhole corporations are present and repeatedly rolling your static connection (known as 'chain collapsing' or 'rage rolling') used to be a consistent way of finding and fighting one of these groups. Whether this will continue after the well publicised issues with rolling wormholes after the Hyperion release is yet to be seen. The increased income in higher class systems tends to bestow a slightly more laissez-faire attitude towards ship losses than you find in corporations in the relatively income-starved lower class wormhole systems. It is for this reason that I tend to avoid combat with class 5 and 6 wormhole residents; their isk has a different value to yours if you live in a class 1 to 4 system and this can make it harder to predict their behaviour.

Higher class wormhole systems also provide the potential for capital ships to be used in wormhole engagements; this can provide fights that are very different to the almost exclusively sub-capital fights in class 1 to 4 systems.

PVE Content

Running sites in wormhole systems used to provide a significantly better income than it now does as the price of one of the key salvage components (melted nanoribbons) used to be around twice the value at time of writing. This is especially true for lower class wormhole systems as a greater proportion of the income that they generate comes from the salvage. Incursions now generate the same or better income but with much less risk than sites in wormhole space, and so many pilots have moved on to running them instead.

The main reasons for running sites in lower class wormhole systems are convenience and, perhaps counter-intuitively, risk. If you are already living in a wormhole system, getting to known space to run sites or missions is inconvenient to say the least, and unless you have multiple accounts available the wormhole will have to be your primary source of income. The risk in running wormhole sites can be a draw for people; it definitely makes the site running more exciting, if only sporadically. And sometimes expensively.


The cost of anchoring a POS in known space can add a significant amount to the bottom line for industrialists. Moving into a wormhole can avoid some of these costs, although there is the opportunity cost of moving things into and out of the wormhole system. Anchoring a POS in a wormhole also allows you access to the otherwise low or null-sec only industry types such as booster manufacture.

Although a wormhole is technically more dangerous than high security space for doing industry, in practice there is relatively little difference. Movement of items in and out of the wormhole will only be occurring very sporadically and will most likely be jumpy straight out of the wormhole system and into high security space. The only way to do damage to a pure industrialist outside of sieging their POS is to set up an interception using a warp disruption bubble at their starbase or the wormhole link out of their system. Even the most basic scouting will avoid the interception risk, and few PVP groups will wish to spend time grinding down a starbase in an undesirable (to them) system with no real chance of a fight.

Planetary Interaction

Planetary Interaction is a great way of making isk in wormhole space, especially if you use low cycle times and manage to get into a routine of running it consistently every day. Wormhole planets are technically in null-security space and have the best possible amount of resources present on them. Although the income is reasonable for the amount of effort invested, the risk is significantly higher than pure industry and the amount of interaction that PI takes is minimal and dull - this is something that players do to fund their other activities, it is not in and of an activity itself.

The increased risk comes from the need to travel to customs offices at planets in the wormhole system, sometimes multiple times per evening on each of several accounts. This gives any hunters who are online and in the system at the time multiple windows to spot what is going on and potentially spring a trap.

Mitigating this is obviously the option to avoid doing runs to customs offices if there are likely hostiles in the system, but more often than not players doing PI opt to not even check, and simply carry out their housekeeping tasks in cheap, unfit ships with throw-away characters in throw-away clones.

Gas Mining

Gas mining in wormholes can be a reasonably lucrative profession; characters don't need a significant number of skill points to be highly effective. Although inconsistently available, gas sites provide a consistent rate of return when present and can be run in ships that, while not resilient, are effective gas harvesters and incredibly difficult to catch - Ventures.

Gas sites, unlike ore sites, need to be scanned down using probes, so any hostiles who are new to a system have to scan down the site or the ships that are running it before they can disrupt them. Importantly the sites themselves are fairly effective defensively; cloaked ships tend to get decloaked by the large gas clouds providing even more warning for any pilots harvesting the gas.

One of the more significant downsides of gas mining in wormholes is the large volume of the raw materials produced and therefore the number of trips required to haul them out of the wormhole. For this reason pilots who regularly do gas mining in wormholes will often have a reactions array set up at their POS to manufacture finished products from the gas instead.


Most groups that inhabit wormhole systems fall into one of three broad categories; those that exist in wormholes purely for PVP, industrial groups that attempt to avoid all contact with other players, and those that "live off of the land"; fighting in wormhole space or the known space connections and making their income within wormhole space.

It's generally a good idea to work out what you intend to be doing in w-space and read up on some of the details before committing billions of isk to stake your claim outside of known space. And have a serious think about whether yourself and your corps mates have the mind set to cope with the ever present paranoia!