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.


  1. Faction towers do not have more fitting, (Powergrid / CPU) they have more hit points in shield / armor and have lower fuel block requirements

  2. I stand corrected; I think it's been that a switch to a faction tower usually means I'm using faction mods as well, which have the lower fitting requirements - will edit accordingly, thank you