Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Everything You Never Wanted To Know: Industry POS

Came across a reddit thread on r/eve about high sec player owned stations (POS), and thought it might be a good chance to do another tutorial.  This is only a HS Industry POS tutorial.  Many of the subjects carry over to POS in general, but the focus here is to help budding industrialists get into their first tower.

Why Get A POS

A POS allows for completely private industry resources.  Never again will you be stuck waiting in a queue for material or time efficiency research, copying, inventing, or manufacturing space.  In addition to that, most POS arrays give a time bonus to the work done.  Not only are you skipping the wait for starting work, your work completes faster than normal.

The system is designed to be a corporate tool, so the more the merrier.  POS really shine when shared for high-parallelism.  They can be easily configured to secure assets, and many industrial contributors can be brought in to share the work and resources.

But know that getting a POS is an investment.  There really needs to be a goal to achieve, or you will be stuck with a liability and an isk sink.  Effectively tasking your POS is hard work, but incredibly rewarding if done right.

Getting started

Specifics will be covered a little later, but the general step-by-step in getting a high sec tower set up is as follows:
  1. Figure out how you will get standings
    1. use a standings service (recommended)
    2. grind up member standing to a raw average high enough
  2. Pick your tower(s) size
    1. small = 1-2 characters
    2. medium = 2-4 characters
    3. large = 3-8 characters
  3. Pick up the required industrial modules
  4. Find moons to anchor at
  5. Acquire fuel (suggested 28d worth) and appropriate charters
  6. Stock "dickstar" fit
This general checklist will get your tower set up and deployed with the least pain.  Specifics will be broken down by step

1) Standings

As for the mechanic specifics, there are plenty of articles out there with the specific :math:[warning, dated].  The gist is:
  • Corp needs raw-average faction standing to be above a certain threshold
    • 5.0 to deploy in 0.5
    • 6.0 to deploy in 0.6
    • 7.0 to deploy in 0.7
    • system security as displayed on the map, not "true-sec"
  • Zero-standings do not count toward the average
  • Any new member won't count toward corp averages for 7 days
  • Standings are recalculated at downtime
Getting a corp of carebears to all have high unified standing is a royal pain.  You will need to kick members and have them re-apply to get their poor standings out of your average.  A possible (but expensive) activity is to use Data Center agents, directly raising faction standings without to 16:1 grind of normal PVE missions.

The process of grinding up average standing is awful.  Instead, I usually opt to pay someone for the service (I'm a fan of Corporations4u).  This process usually requires a 1-man alt corp to start.  Then you leech off the standings.
  1. Start one-man corp (with zero faction standings)
  2. Pay for standings service
  3. Hire designated alt
  4. Wait 7d for the new character standings to apply to corp
  5. Anchor towers
It's really that simple.  Pay some isk (100-500M) and wait one week.  It's usually best to wait until all your affairs are in order before using a service.  

2) Picking a POS Tower

Each race has a tower with something it's specifically good at.  If you're really interested in the specifics, read more.  Simply put, CPU is the limiting factor for industry, therefore Caldari is the racial class of choice.  With the most CPU (and most shield HP) of any POS, Caldari Control Towers are the tool of choice.  Also, Caldari have the best statistics for "dickstars", but that will be covered a little later.

Now that the 12 choices have been whittled down to 3, the next choice is size.  The choices break down by how many characters will be working with the tower.
  • 1-2 characters = Small
  • 2-4 characters = Medium
  • 4-8 characters = Large
Since standings limit when you can anchor new towers, it's usually prudent to over-spec space.  Though it can be expensive to maintain several half-utilized large towers, it might be worth it to have a mix of medium/small towers anchored near-by so expansion is not limited by hardware.  For my own corp, I mix large/medium.  I use the mediums as half-steps if I can't fill a large.

Faction Towers

Faction towers do nothing to the overall industry picture other than reduce fuel costs.  At the time of posting, these towers are incredibly expensive (2-5B for dread guristas large), and the fuel savings pay off can take years.  Personally, I have found them to be more of a bulls-eye than asset, but your mileage may vary.

3) Industrial Modules

Usually when POS come into the conversation, it's for ME/PE research.  But that's a very small segment of what a POS can be used for.  A POS can be used to do just about every industry job you could want to do.

Research

Mobile laboratories are needed for any type of research.  Also, these are the most CPU intensive modules at a POS, severely limiting the maximum quantity of any specific type of research.  Personally, being invention oriented, copy space is my major limiting factor, but your goals may be different.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is done at manufacturing arrays, and is a bit more convoluted.  For manufacturing, each type of module is limited in the type of product it can produce.  So you will need several different types of assembly arrays for different build jobs.  Thankfully, the CPU required for these modules is very low, so anchoring extra modules is not as big an issue.  The types break down as such:
  • Ammunition
  • Component (R.A.M, T2 components, rigs)
  • Drone
  • Equipment (modules)
  • Ships
    • Small (frigs)
    • Medium (cruisers)
    • Large (battleships, capitals)
    • X-Large (battleships, capitals, lowsec only)
    • Capital (capital, super capital, sov null-sec only)
  • Subsystem (T3)
T2 (exept ships) can be built in the appropriate arrays.  T3 requires the subsystem assembly module.  T2 ships can be built in Advanced Ship Assembly arrays, but have an added waste factor and no time bonus.

Special mods

There are a few special mods you won't see very often.  They either require some special use case, or have a waste factor that makes them unusable:
  • Rapid/Advanced assembly arrays
    • Have a 20% additional waste factor.  This usually wipes out any added benefit
  • X-Large Ship Assembly Array
    • <0.4 only.  Can build freighters/orcas in large ship assembly arrays
  • Capital Ship Assembly Array
    • Sov null-sec only.  Can build super capitals
  • Hyasyoda Mobile Laboratory

4) Finding a Moon

This is more like "finding a system".  Since the choices are 0.7-0.4 systems, the work becomes finding a home you like with spare moon space.  Personally, I start at dotlan and look for a system with a high number of moons and NPC build/research space.  This gives the widest array of options on how to deploy your tower and what resources you actually want to pay for.

Now, that isn't to say that your hunt will be easy.  The obvious places to deploy will be difficult.  Don't even try finding a free moon in Forge or Sinq.  There are free moons out there (though rare), but the hunt will be significant.  I don't have a witty way beyond warping to each possible moon.  Go get a high-warp speed interceptor.  Bookmark both ideal candidates and backups.  It may take up to 2 weeks to get standings and you never know who else is out there.

I have never bought an occupied moon.  There is also the option to hire mercenaries if there is a dead corp you'd like to clear out.  Personally, using force will only show your hand after you anchor your tower.  Just know what hornet's nest you are kicking.

Again, this is why I like anchoring extra towers.  When you have the opportunity, take all you can.  You may have to restart the whole search if you want to expand later, and it's just so much easier to plant unused flags in moons than try and go back and fix it later.  Become part of the problem!

5) Stock up on Fuel

This bullet should be easy enough to explain.  Most towers fit 28d of fuel pretty easily, fuel blocks are easy to manage, and POS refuling goes on your calendar.  There are a few pro-tips I'd like to share though:

  • Mining your own fuel
    • Just know that a large tower takes a little over 1,000 blocks of ice to fuel
    • Burn your time at your own risk.  Ice is cheap today
  • Build it or Buy it?
    • The margins are very thin between buying and building.  I'm lazy, I buy.  <5% margin usually isn't worth putting the couple day's effort into
  • Strontium
    • Fill the strontium bay.  Just do it at setup and forget about it
  • Starbase Charters
    • Has to do with the faction the tower is anchored in, not the race of the tower
    • Cheap to get from LP rewards
Stockpile to taste.  Currently, the monthly costs of a tower in fuel are approximately:
  • Large: 350M
  • Medium: 175M
  • Small: 85M
Just note if you're going to use a POS, you need to have a revenue stream that justifies the fuel cost.  Running several towers will get expensive, and you don't want to be losing ISK on the business of running the factory.  

6) Defending Your Investment

As Sophia Vagabond learned the hard way, someone will eventually want to kick down your sand castle.  It's not a matter of "if" it's a matter of "when".  The best thing is to be prepared for the worst and fight smart. POS warfare done wrong is a horrendously painful affair.

The temptation will be to use a POS as a battlestation, or "deathstar".  Though this is technically possible, it is nearly useless without an army of people with Anchoring 5 and Starbase Defense Management to man the guns.  Also, being a passive structure, your enemy will be able to play timezone games with you.  Add onto that the POS AI is incredibly dumb, randomly cycling each module without any preference or focused fire.  If you try to use an attack oriented scheme, you're gonna have a bad time.

Instead, it's usually best to use a more defensive method, the "dickstar".  This is famous from most operating bases in low/null sec.  Make the target so difficult to siege that no one will want to take the man-hours to take it down.  This involves ECM modules and Shield Hardening Arrays.  But this being high-sec, I skip the ECM modules since they can cause weird aggression mechanics and end up making your tower an easier target.  Instead, raise the omni-resist of your POS shield as high as possible and make each tower take as much time as possible to kill.  

Again, this is where extra POS become very useful.  By having several dickstar towers online and ready to assault, you will wear down the patience of your enemy.  This does cost extra fuel stocks and some setup time, but the rewards are very high.  As long as the labs are stripped down before a war goes active, the loser in this equation is the aggressor, not the defender.  Let them tire of kicking your castle and move on to the next.  Also, needing to be engaged in very long structure shoots will cause fatigue, giving you ample opportunity to stage counter attacks on your schedule, not theirs.

Using Your Tower

Once towers and modules are anchored, you'll want to actually do work at the tower.  The mechanics for use can be a little convoluted, but should be simple enough to explain here.

Blueprints can be installed remotely.  This allows you to have BPO/BPCs stored in an NPC station, protected by all the normal corp tools that surround those assets.  Personally, I like keeping BPCs at the POS, since I wrestle with thousands of them.  

If a process consumes materials, those consumables must be in the lab where the job is installed.  Datacores for invention, minerals for building; if there is a material need for the process, those materials must be in the module where the job is to be installed.  Also, it's a benefit to train Scientific Networking and Supply Chain Management to 2, to be able to install/deliver jobs anywhere in the system.  Otherwise there will be some conflicts if you're in NPC station or not.

Next, you'll want to configure access to those arrays.  Tower Control Pannel -> Access and every module will have a "view" and "take" access, some having a "use" right.  This can be set to 4 levels: 2 are corp internal, corp general, or alliance general.  This is an additional lock on top of corp rights.  That is to say, if someone has full access to take from hangar 1, but the module has the added restriction of "fuel technician" that the character lacks, the character will not be able to use that hangar.  

For a 3rd layer of security, a password can be set.  Though you need an initial password to put up the tower shields, you can toggle access restriction on that password.  That can be useful if you want to give access to one tower but not a second.  Use the POS passwords as a second layer of security.  

The art of role management is a topic for another post.  I will cover these topics in much greater detail in a later tutorial.

Pro-Tips and Pitfalls

POS are a strange and fickle beast.  I've only covered the basics without really getting into specific mechanics.  And it's more likely than not you will run against some sort of weird mechanic pitfall that will make your life difficult.  Here are some of the more obscure gems that should save the largest headaches:

  • Anchoring Limits: entities can only anchor so many towers per system per day
    • Corp: 1 tower per system per day
    • Alliance: 5 towers per system per day
    • No limits for anchoring modules, only towers
  • Don't worry about exact PG/CPU tracking
    • PG/CPU do not have their own fuel source any more.
    • Just put in fuel blocks and online what you need
  • Share Lab Space
    • The temptation: do all the things whenever.  Lots of unused lab space
    • A better solution: actively schedule tasks so there is minimal waiting.  More efficient lab usage
  • Anchor modules with care
    • Remember, you need to move materials in and out of the POS.  Make it freighter friendly
  • Assets in a tower are only viewable by going to the individual modules
    • Corp asset tracking cannot see what is actually in space beyond there is a tower in a system
    • EVE API can view inside modules, but I have not seen a good tool for accurately tracking exactly where each item is
  • Offline modules are okay
    • It's okay to overload your tower with extra mods and online tools as they are needed
    • Anchor shield hardeners and activate them when a war comes in
  • "Only Use What You Are Willing to Lose"
    • Write off the costs of POS setup at the beginning
    • Know that towers can be attacked and be prepared for the worst
    • The tower is in space 24/7.  Fight times will be dictated by aggressors