Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You Don't Understand Risk

If there's a topic that drives me crazy fastest, it's talking about risk.  EVE is loaded with all sorts of risks and some pretty serious penalties for those foolish enough to ignore them.  As such, everyone has their own little rules about avoiding risk... though I believe a lot of them are completely useless or overly paranoid.

It boils down to a general ignorance when it comes to probability and statistics.  Everyone is obsessed with the lottery odds.  Wins are worth any cost, even if the odds are low.  Losses must be absolutely avoided, even if the odds are equally low.  MMO players will farm the loot-treadmill for a 1% drop, but won't use something that could have a 15% penalty.

This has been the major block to trying to push Combat Boosters on my friends.  They are still hung up on the penalties and are blinded to the rewards.  I went ahead and expanded the infographic to include a breakdown of the actual odds.  This is a bit of a draft, I don't like the new graph colors yet, and I need to push a fully updated version with the edits from Reddit.

The point I wanted to illustrate here was how low the chances of penalty really are, especially for Standard boosters.  With no skills, the odds are 80% that you will incur 1 or less penalties.  Neurotoxin Recovery 5 pushes that figure to 89%.  The odds of actually rolling all 4 are astronomically low in comparison.  In my opinion, if you're flying a ship that should use boosters and aren't, you're losing out on a big opportunity!  This is the same point I make about invention accounting, if you understand the probabilities, you'd be foolish not to participate.   These mechanics are driven by a random number generator (RNG), most players shy away since they aren't in complete control.

Risk aversion drives me the most crazy when it comes to flying a freighter.  There are dozens of guides about how to safely use a freighter, and the advice boils down as such:
  1. Don't Use Autopilot.  Fly gate-to-gate.  AFK is death
  2. Don't haul too much.  1B is the standard rule of thumb
  3. Avoid chokepoints.  Inter-hub shipping goes through some high risk chokepoints
  4. Other good ideas:
    • Have insta undocks
    • Have insta docks
    • Have a friendly webber
    • Avoid hauling in high traffic situations
      • Jita approach (3 gates land on 4-4 with the same vector, ganker's paradise)
      • Friday-Saturday prime times
      • Inter-hub routes
  5. If you can't accept the risk, use a courier service
All of these are good guidelines, but don't let fellow freighter pilots know you have broken any of these commandments.  Personally, I contend the 1B cargo rule.  If you are already engaging in risky behavior (high traffic, gank routes) then the 1B rule is totally reasonable.  If you go through Niarja/Madmilre with more than 1B in unwrapped cargo during prime time, you're probably going to have a bad time.  

Personally, I have set up my routes so I can be a little more lax on these rules.  My Jita<-->Base route is pretty low traffic and doesn't go through a high-risk chokepoint.  I use instas to get in and out of stations, and if I am being particularly ballsy (stupid) I have a webber + skirmish mindlink.  

Yes, I am risking a gank.  Yes, I am probably inviting even more risk bringing this up.  But I think it's important to properly assess a situation and use the right tool for the job.  If I have a heavy haul to do on a weekend, I'll usually ping a courier service to just avoid the risk entirely.  If it's a quiet weekday, and I just need something moved, I'll bring the right equipment to protect that investment.  

Being crippled by fear of risk is no way to play the game.  If you follow every single rule and guideline to avoid risk, you'll either never undock, or never actually have any fun.  The guides are there to help people, but no one takes spaceships more seriously than EVE people.