Super BuildersForlorn Wongraven
Since the first player owned outpost was dropped, nullsec industry has been overshadowed by the vast amount of available stations and build slots in high and low sec. The only niche that made nullsec attractive for industrial moguls was the option to build supercapitals. Since Dominion, supercapital numbers have constantly increased due to the need to grind massive structures in sov warfare.
It’s long been known that CCP was unhappy with mineral compression. They already changed ship and module BPOs in the last year to make mineral compression more expensive. Last week CCP released a devblog about upcoming changes for the yet unnamed summer expansion on reprocessing changes. With its release, reprocessing of minerals needs both a very highly skilled character and a station with a good base yield, making null sec stations a lot more attractive. Following this theme, CCP released a second devblog covering specific details on the influence of B-R on mineral prices.
With limited personal knowledge on how it works, I used my connections in-game to contact a supercapital producer. Luckily enough I found a long-time builder that was willing to do an interview with me and share some insight, but asked to remain anonymous. Enjoy the interview with ‘NorthropGrumman’!
Forlorn: Please introduce yourself! How long have you been playing EVE? What is your focus in EVE besides supercapital production?
NorthropGrumman: I am NorthropGrumman and I’ve been playing EVE since 2005 pretty much full time. Played a bit before that, but using a Mac with Wine back then was pretty unstable. As far as anything besides supercapital production, mainly PvP. I like flying caps more than subcaps, also I am one of the few people in EVE that doesn’t mind structure shoots.
Forlorn: When did you start your supercapital production service? Why did you start building supercapitals?
NorthropGrumman: I started building SCs in about 2008 I think – was a long time ago and I would have to dig through old spreadsheets to determine exactly when. Started mainly because there was a market and so few people to fill it.
I know I have made 2 Wyverns, 21-22 Nyxes, 36 Aeons
Forlorn: Can you give me an estimate of the number of supercapitals you have produced?
NorthropGrumman: Hmm, I know I have made 2 Wyverns, 21-22 Nyxes, 36 Aeons and never built a Hel. Built several Avatars, a Rag, my personal Erebus and several more. Never built a Leviathan, although it is on my bucket list. I also want to build a Revenant, but too cheap to buy a BPC.
Forlorn: As far as I am aware, it is common that most supercapital producers are solo builders. Is that true for yourself? And what is the reasoning behind that?
NorthropGrumman: Yes, I am a solo builder, because CCP permissions are absolutely are the worst mechanic in the game. It is all part of corp permissions and tied to POS code, so we have a better shot of getting fluffy bunnies and pink elephants to fly before they fix their mess.
Forlorn: What are the basic requirements to start super capital production from scratch?
NorthropGrumman: Basic requirements are pretty easy. You need to be in an alliance that owns sov somewhere and there has to be an IHUB in system with a supercapital construction upgrade installed. Once you are there, drop a tower, anchor and online a CSAA and several Component Assembly Arrays, fill them with minerals and build.
Forlorn: How many accounts do you use for supercapital production?
NorthropGrumman: I currently use 15 accounts for production. You basically need highsec haulers to bring minerals from Jita, which also act as compression monkeys putting build jobs on in station. Then several JF pilots to bring minerals to low sec or some dropoff point. This is where the nullsec component kicks in and they jump to lowsec and pick up minerals or components then jump to where you build. This is necessary because most nullsec alliances have constant wardecs. Sometimes you can go to highsec and just jump stuff out, but not often. Once minerals are in nullsec, then you need as many builders as you have BPOs. If you use BPCs, you need as many builders as you have CAA slots.
Forlorn: Can you estimate how much ISK you have in the assets required for your service?
NorthropGrumman: ISK is pretty hard to estimate but the upfront costs are massive. If you use BPCs – and you will probably only do that once – you need to buy minerals, tower, fuel, CSAA (which only fits in a freighter) and so you are looking at roughly 22 bil ISK for a supercarrier setup and probably 105-110 bil ISK for a titan setup. Now, the second one gets cheaper as the tower and CSAA are already there, but their cost is pretty small overall. BPO vs BPC: BPCs pack for a supercarrier is about 2 bil ISK, for a titan about 8 bil ISK and for every titan you build, that comes out of profits. BPOs range from 1 bil ISK to 3.3 bil ISK each. Two complete sets for building supercarriers is about 40 bil ISK. Three complete sets to build titans is about 75 billion as a capital investment, just for the components. Then you have the ship BPO vs BPC. A supercarrier BPO is about 17 bil ISK while a BPC is 400mil ISK. So building 40 supercarriers or so is your break even point. Titan BPO is about 75 bil ISK (cheaper on contracts) but at 2-3 bil ISK for a BPC break even point is around 20 titans of that single type.
Forlorn: Oh wow, I had no idea that it cost so much upfront. How much time do you have to spend per week looking after your operation?
NorthropGrumman: If I am in a cycle of compression and hauling it is about 20-30 hours a week to get stuff moving. Once a build is in, it requires little to no looking after other than making sure the tower doesn’t run out of fuel. Build times are 3 weeks for a supercarrier and 6 weeks for a titan. If you build multiple simultaneously, some of that time overlaps, but not too much. I try to put on at least one job every other week.
Forlorn: Do you build to order or do you just produce ships that you think might sell fast?
NorthropGrumman: Titans are to order; Aeons, I build no matter what, they sell easy enough. Usually I have a pretty long waiting list for both though.
Forlorn: How long does it take before you can fill an order?
NorthropGrumman: For supercarriers I usually have enough minerals laying around to build at least one, but titans take preparation. From start to finish a titan is about 90 days, a supercarrier about 28 days, assuming I have BPOs and a free build slot. Normally the waiting list determines how long to get a ship, but those times are how long it takes once I start on the next ‘order’.
Forlorn: How long is your current queue?
NorthropGrumman: Titans – about 18 months; supercarriers – about 4 months. Although I have reduced supercarrier production, but will be ramping back up once I catch up on titans.
‘Did you expand your service after B-R?’ ‘Yeah, by a factor of three.’
Forlorn: That is not a short timeframe. Did you expand your service after B-R?
NorthropGrumman: Yeah, by a factor of three.
Forlorn: Coming back to the minerals that you need to build a super capital – do you import via mineral compression or do you mine locally?
NorthropGrumman: Mineral compression for titans. I can normally buy enough minerals from local miners to build an odd Aeon or two.
Forlorn: Recently CCP released a devblog about reprocessing changes for the upcoming summer expansion. Can you predict how this changes your current production lines?
NorthropGrumman: Predicting is hard. I have my theories about how it will play out, I am not comfortable enough to lay them out just yet though.
I think build prices will drop, but I’m not sure if the overall market will drop… I think we can gain some efficiency, but if overall prices go up, the efficiency will basically help us keep pace with inflation.
Forlorn: What impact will these changes have on the prices of the final product?
NorthropGrumman: Another one that is hard to predict. A lot depends on how highsec reacts. We have plans in place to deal with what we can currently building, but we can’t control highsec. If I get my wish, I think build prices will drop, but I’m not sure if the overall market will drop. Basically, due to the new refine rates, I think we can gain some efficiency, but if overall prices go up, the efficiency will basically help us keep pace with inflation.
…instead of 83 freighters worth of minerals to build a titan to haul from Jita, we now need to haul approx 225
Forlorn: Do you think this change is reasonable?
NorthropGrumman: I think this change is AWESOME. One part will suck – instead of 83 freighters worth of minerals to build a titan to haul from Jita, we now need to haul approx 225 freighters of ore to compress, however compression is instant as opposed to 2-3 weeks of module compression. We will also have less value per freighter load, so much less risk autopilot hauling through highsec. Also, it’s a much more efficient compression analysis as it will be done on an ore level now. Need more Trit? Just buy Veldspar ore – DONE. No need to bring in 425 railguns just for the Trit and have everything else wasted and hauled back to highsec to sell or save for the next build.
Forlorn: Anything you would like to add that we haven’t touched on yet?
NorthropGrumman: Not really, we covered most of the building stuff. I will add this, if someone is asking me about building something and they quote me mineral price and complain about what is being charged without thinking about the work and effort that goes into it, I will only quote them full retail price. If they think it is so damn easy, they can try it themselves. They don’t complain that a battleship costs 75 mil ISK in minerals and sells for 85 mil ISK. This is the same thing, just times 20.
Forlorn: Hehe. Thank you, I really appreciate it.
NorthropGrumman: No problem.