Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Price of Penance

This month Eve University is going to go NBSI (not blue shoot it) for the first time. They are testing the waters of change.  Change is a good thing in Eve. Even the oldest and largest institutes can become static and dull without change. Eve Uni however is not an outlaw corporation. They will still have their normal security status rules in place. That means, while their members may engage anyone not blue in low security space they will have to deal with the security status penalty.

A little while ago, that would have been a problem. The joy of shooting everything would be heavily weighted by the security status hit. In some ways that is understandable. After all, shooting people is a crime according to Concord. But, security status loss was severe enough that people chose not to fight rather than deal with the game mechanics.

Retribution introduced crime watch changes. One of those changes was how heavy security hits were in low sec. It was a subtle enough change and not one that many noticed in the grand scheme of things. People often go towards one extreme or the other when it comes to their security status. There where other positives. The change in gategun aggression and the introduction of limited engagement timers coupled with the removal of Global Criminal Countdown revitalized PvP in low sec. While the individual hit was not as bad as it once was the cumulative hits increased exponentially. I found myself plummeting down to -9 on a slip and slide of pixel violence.

The next change came with Odyssey. That is when Tags4Sec, the goal of my topic, where introduced. Along with Tags4Sec came a revamped security status gain mechanic and a restructure of how the game views security standings vs NPC corporation standards. Before, the two where tied together and Concord automatically hated outlaws. This made a few systems off limits for the friendly, neighborhood high sec skipping pirate. This separated the two of them and allowed, what I believe, will be future adjustments to the entire mechanic of Crimewatch and security standings.

Tags4Sec is a concept tied in with Dust 514. The ships are Clone Soldier ships and they are transporting bad Dust things that need to be shot out of the sky and rewarded by Concord [simple version]. In reality, tag rats as we call them, where introduced into low sec belt spawns. As one goes belt ratting in low sec one may come upon these rats. They are harder to kill then NPC battleships. In fact, many people user cruisers or battlecruisers to clear the belts. I tried in my trusty ratting Jaguar and it was a waste of my time plinking away at the tag rat. They also give more ISK and more sec gain than NPC battleships, who, until their introduction where the best way to gain security status.

They also drop tags. The tags are used to regain security stats. There are four types of tags and each can be turned in to improve a certain area of security status. There was a belief that CCP has unleashed a plague upon high sec. The forums had long threads about how the outlaws would be released from low sec and swarm across high sec in a wave of positive security status to wipe out everyone and everything.

The reality proved much less interesting. People who where at a low security status stayed there. Many began to rat and sell the tags to the people who wanted to keep their security status high. This had one of two interesting effects on tag cost. The effect caused by the low sec residents selling the tags is that the tags that covered security status between -5 and 0.0 where the tags most sought after. Outlaws who needed the tags that covered -10 to -5 where not interested in using the tags and they glutted the market.

The second aspect of the tag rats is that they spawn in security systems that are opposite of their tags value. This means tag rats that drop tags that cover the area of -10 to around -7.5 spawn in 0.4 space. The tags that cover -2.5 or so to 0.0 spawn in 0.1 systems. Those systems tend to be a bit deeper into low sec.

All in all Tags4Sec became a money maker. But, as with any money maker as they market floods the cost plummets. For the first few months Sec Tags where very, very lucrative and many people spent a lot of time out in the belts. This did exactly what it was supposed to do and generated fights and activity. However, as the shine wore off and the price stabilized a lot of people stopped shooting tags rats for ISK. The other day I was speaking with Altaen and we where discussing how he wished the tags had retained more value. I decided to go and look at the Tag prices to see how they where doing.

  • Clone Soldier Trainer Tags are around 1.5 million in Jita
  • Clone Soldier Recruiter Tags are around 1.4 million in Jita
  • Clone Soldier Negotiator Tags are at 24.5 million in Jita
  • Clone Soldier Transporter Tags are at 30 million in Jita

The prices for all of the tags have stabilized over the last few months. They arc up and down with wars and special events. This means that farming (for that is the term used for these things) a 0.2 and 0.1 system over the course of an hour will net probably one set of tags if not two. Two sets of tags is around 100 million ISK an hour. If one where to sit in one system it bounces down to 50-60 million an hour if 2 clone solider spawns happen. The clone solider NPCs always have tags and with a system with a reasonable number of belts more than one spawn over the course of an hour is not unreasonable.

That isn't terrible money. It averages out nicely for the fact that it is belt ratting. Add in the need to fully clear the belts to increase the change of clone soldiers spawning and a steady amount of ISK and security status is there. Of course, it is tempered by being low sec. Being out in space belt ratting is an invitation for people to come and try to kill you. That, in my opinion, is how it should be. It keeps things exciting. The belts are there to go to or leave at will. There is no LP involved. Nothing overly complex. Shoot the rat, shoot whoever attacks you, take the tag, loot the field, profit. While the numbers for the first few months where double these, the rate isn't bad at all.

The stability and volume of the market points to a steady and constant need for tags. The bulk of that need is for the tags that clear up those pesky areas that restrict high security access. For an event such as the one Eve Uni is about to undertake, these tags will prove to be valuable options for their membership. For others, hopefully the ability to wash their hands clean with some ISK and penance will up the appeal of those low sec roams I so often see advertised on corporation descriptions.

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