Monday, May 6, 2013

Riding Odyssey's Tide

I dabbled a few billion deep into the speculation market. Mostly, I have been building battleships. The transfer of my assets from liquid to solid ISK, as always, makes me shudder a little bit. However, my build costs have been very good and now that CCP has announced the new mineral changes for Battleships with the Odyssey expansion, I've made a good if painful call. It is one that will take a little bit of time to pay off on the other side but it will eventually pay off.

On the other hand, I priced a refuel for my POS. I then laid down and had a small, weeping fit in my hangar. A few months ago I purchased a lot of fuel. Around four or five months worth. My transaction history does not go back far enough for me to see the buys for the fuel. I know I grabbed about a billion ISK worth for my large and small tower. My last calculation, due the plummeting ice prices caused by the improved mining barges was around 350-400 million to fuel my tower.

I run an Amarr tower and Amarr fuel blocks are often the cheapest. I run an Amarr tower simply because I like how it looks. That is the sum total reason why I run an Amarr tower. All of the extra bonuses for tower's are for the most part not useful to me because the basic reason I run a tower is for drug manufacturing.

No, I will not be joining an Alliance with a Dust presence in Molden Heath just to reduce my fuel costs. It would not compensate for losing a useful moon. Of course, new moons are being added. I speculate that it does answer a question I presented of, "is reduced fuel price going to be worth the entire Dust thing." The answer with the ice changes at their currently speculation prices is that yes, it actually may be worth it.

A large tower consumes 28,800 fuel blocks a month. I priced 50,000 fuel blocks in Jita at 761 million ISK. The last time I got fuel blocks it was somewhere around 400 million ISK. I don't have my history to pull the transaction for an exact match. Part of running a tower is making the tower pay for itself. It may be simply that the tower is a home for a super carrier or a Titan. That is the price of owning such a ship. For others, it is researching blue prints, running T2 manufacturing, building capital ships in null sec, operating as a home for people in wormholes or for some, like myself running their booster manufacturing.

To make boosters, I need to run a medium POS (player owned starbase). POS, like ships have CPU and Power Grid restrictions. I wrote a very bad guide to making boosters. In that guide I lay out all the tools needed to run to handle the reactions for the boosters. These things all have to run at the same time and therefore, they require a medium POS as the smallest size POS to manufacture boosters.

The side effect of this is that Booster manufacturing has a base cost unrelated to its components. I'd write a really, really bad math equation for this but that would cause more pain to those that actually know what they are doing. Let me just say that the cost of making the booster is not just the materials to go into the booster but the fuel to run the tower the boosters must be made in. Boosters cannot be made in a station and they must be made with at least a medium POS. Therefore, the cost of fueling a medium POS every month is a part of the manufacture process.

I've been making boosters for almost ten months now. It is a niche market and it took me about four or five months for it to start taking off and for my sales to become regular. I knew that it would not be an instantaneous "I'm rich" button but I stuck with it because it was interesting and fun. I also had the egotistical satisfaction of providing a service to the people that I flew with the most. They went from hoarding their boosters to using them as the consumable they are meant to be used as. My income eventually leveled out to where my sales were paying for my costs. My stocks built up, allowing me to seed the market with boosters which opened up my field of potential buyers as well as easing the access for my boys to not have to maintain large stockpiles.

Once my booster sales were stable I upgraded to a large POS. It sits on a scandium moon. Scandium is not a very expensive moon material but it brings in around 70 million extra a month. It was something to help cut into the fuel costs. A pain to pull and move out of deep low sec but it gave me something to do on the occasional slow days.

During my "Moon Saga" I picked up a Hafnium moon. This is a more valuable moon but not one of the top tiers of ISK. I planted a small POS on it and the minerals mined from it, once sold raw, paid for the fuel cost with a little bit extra on top. The price of Hafnium has soared with speculation but I am not going to assume it is settled in anyway as to where it will level out.

Now, my fuel prices have done insane things. A lot of this is frustrating because it is pure speculation. It is just over a month until Ice mining changes and then longer as the stockpiles start to bleed out of various, currently common ice products. But already, prices have gone insane, I've had to deal with it in TCS with the isotope and ozone and even my stront price increases. Now, fuel prices have shot up simply because they can. I guess that is part of the entire capitalistic market?

I could take down all my towers, declare myself drug free and off to rehab, and cast off into the night free of structures forever. However, I really like manufacturing. I like making boosters. Moon goo is amusing. Boosters are already an unwanted step-child area of industry that is more of a pain then it is often worth. But, I'm into niche things and I really, really enjoy it.

But enjoyment doesn't pay the bills. I don't take as much time out to do raw ISK making ventures anymore. That means my income from exploration is down. Plus, in general, its just a bad idea to run something by supporting it in another way. I'm happy to break even but even I tire of losing money. I won't know where the market will land for some weeks yet. There is a month until things actually change. It will be longer until they settle into a new normal.

That means one of my towers has to come down. Consolidation is the key to keeping my set up productive in the current economic state. At this time, the only thing that makes sense to me is to pull my large tower and my entire drug manufacturing set up and my research laboratories and move them to my more profitable moon, replacing the small tower there with the large tower and reset everything. It will be a miserable day. This way I decrease my fuel overhead, support the more profitable moon and hopefully cut deeply into the probable increase that my boosters will have to undergo to stop the entire enterprise from becoming a steady bleed out of ISK.

Resources are being shaken up and changed. Towers are a luxury to some and a necessity to some. With situations like my boosters, where do I stand? I don't *have* to make boosters. They are one of those little pieces of that game that are not fully realized and fleshed out. I could walk away from all of this and write it off as a side effect to change. But for so many, their towers are not luxuries  For me the cost in the end is passed onto the buyer.

Across the game in general there is a rippling wave of baseline cost increases in so many areas. I'm not but so old yet even I can look back on my 7 million first Vexor and my 40 million first Dominix. The basic answer to my problem is just to crank up my prices until I am again solvent  To some extent that is going to have to happen. I'd like to mitigate it to some extent. It is, I guess, the side effect of producing things for people I actually care about. I don't want to drink the wallets of my corporation members, my blues, and my associates dry.

This is a wave I will have to ride and see where it decides to go.

Edit: Heretic was nice enough to point out my incorrect fuel numbers. Whoops! I've since corrected the amounts. I had 44,000 listed as my refuel needs in my little pile of POS notes as resupply numbers for some reason I no longer remember. Thanks for the catch!


  1. Um, unless I've totally fubared the math, a large tower uses 28,800 fuel blocks a month - 40 blocks/hour * 24hrs/day * 30 days.

    1. I probably did and forgot to divide or something I had written down for why I wanted that many fuel blocks. I'l look at it and correct it when I get home. This is why I try to avoid math in my blog I tend to screw up the most simple equations.

    2. Hey, no worries. I once calculted the isotopes for a month of large POS fuel and ended up doing some decimal shenanigans - purchased 6 months by mistake. Luckily, the corp had sufficient funds to make up for it, lol

  2. Ah, the joys of fuel prices! I remember having to take down a reaction POS once, so that the savings in fuel cost would tide my little reaction business over during a particular slump in T2 reaction prices.

  3. Yeah, it's even getting pricey for small WH corps :(

  4. The reduction of ice miner cycle times should help depress prices once Odyssey hits, but we'll have to see how big an effect the limited supply of ice will have when the 'infinite' ice fields become timed, respawning ice anomalies.