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 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.

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