DIGGING FOR GOLD: WORMHOLE EXPLOITATION

Eve Photo
2013-11-15

I’d like to tell you about a mythical land, flowing with milk and honey. I’d like to tell you about a place where the ISK is never ending, where the native population is generally unskilled and domesticated, and where a capsuleer with a plan can make billions in days.

I’d like to tell you about wormhole space. Most of us who dwell anywhere where a local channel exists have probably only briefly ducked into wormholes — either to satisfy curiosity, find a good fight, or just for the sake of exploration. But my friends, if you dismiss wormholes so easily, you’re missing one of the easiest ISK fountains in the game, and with some startup capital, you can be milking the same udder that sustains all of the players that live in wormholes full time. There is enough ISK to go around, and after discovering the best way to exploit wormholes through trial and error, I’d like to impart that knowledge to you.

THE BASICS

It’s never wise to jump into anything blindly, so let’s go over some basic facts about wormholes. Wormholes are single systems that exist in a permanent state, connected to the normal EVE universe by temporary gateways that can spawn anywhere. Wormholes are divided into six classification (read: difficulty) levels: one through six. Sites in class one wormholes can be run solo by virtually anyone, while a class six requires a coordinated effort and oftentimes the use of capitals. The gateway to wormhole space, the wormhole itself, has a maximum ship size it will allow, and a maximum jumpable mass before it collapses and respawns elsewhere. You can’t claim sovereignty in a wormhole, so you must live out of a POS. Wormhole space spawns a number of static ratting sites that can be run to destroy a type of NPC known as Sleepers. Sleepers use fairly advanced AI, and yield no bounty, but their drops can be worth quite a bit.

Wormholes also spawn profession sites, and can connect to other wormholes or different areas of “real” space. The local channel in wormholes only shows recent speakers and you have to probe out entrances and exits, so an understanding of Core Scanner and Combat Scanner probes and how to manipulate them is absolutely necessary.

LIFE IN WORMHOLES

Living in a wormhole is a lot like living in the American Wild West. If you don’t know the rules, you won’t get far. But once you understand how to live in WH space, it’s very simple. The first thing you are going to want to get into a habit of doing is bookmarking everything. Wormhole entrances, exits, hostile POS locations, ratting sites, safes, everything. Don’t underestimate Sleepers either. They are far tougher than mission rats, employ every kind of ewar, and move incredibly fast. Typically when you are triggering spawns, one ship is named differently from the others on field — killing that one will spawn another wave. One thing I’ve discovered that has helped a lot is keeping a single combat probe out perpetually — count the number of signatures it finds, and rescan constantly while ratting. If the signatures increase, you know you have visitors. Finaly, have prober launchers fitting to everything. If you somehow get trapped into your wormhole with no way to probe the exit, all of your effort will be for naught.

FINDING YOUR HOLE

Since we’re gearing this expedition to be undertaken by one intrepid operator (that’s you), we need to find a wormhole that is best exploited by one person. The best place to look for your wormhole entrance, in my opinion, is lowsec. Most wormholes have a static exit that open up in a specific security status. Nullsec will often exit in regions too remote/dangerous for you to enter and exit, highsec will yield too much traffic, but lowsec offers the perfect balance of concealment and accessibility.

I’m not going to write an entire probing guide, but you will likely need a toon with decent probing skills, and a dedicated prober to find wormhole entrances. Once you’ve dropped probes in lowsec and began scouting around for wormholes, you might be wondering what kind of hole you need for maximum profit. I have you covered.

You will be looking for a wormhole with these basic characteristics:

  1. A Class 2 or Class 3 wormhole with NO system effect anomalies. You can find out the class and identify system effects by entering the wormhole and then typing in the J-signature (found in the upper right-hand corner) into a database or wormhol.es.
  2. An empty hole, or one so sparsely populated you can muscle your way in (more on this later).
  3. As a bonus, a secondary connection to another C2 or C3 hole (so you can enter that one, clear the sites, then return to base if you have the spare time).

Finding the right wormhole is going to take some time on your part. I’ve found good ones in a few hours of scanning, other times it has taken me more than a week. Just be persistent — finding the right home is going to be the most important decision you make during this enterprise.

It is highly probable you’re going to find a wormhole that already has towers anchored. Do a quick assessment with your d-scan: How many towers are there? How many forcefields are active? Are there fewer fields than towers? That means towers are offline. Any ships on combat scanner? Depending on the condition of the wormhole, even if it’s occupied, I move in anyway and anchor my tower. Sometimes I strike a deal with the people living there, other times I fight them, or just run sites when they aren’t online. Usually, once my POS is up, they can’t touch me, especially in a C2 or C3. I basically squat on their territory, and there’s usually little they can do about it.

BILL OF MATERIALS

Ideally, you’re going to want to base out of a large POS, but you can scrape by with a medium. The reason I use a large is because once I have it anchored and configured, it becomes almost impossible to dislodge me until I’m good and ready to leave. You have to assume everyone you encounter while you’re in wormhole space is hostile, so plan accordingly.

Now, let’s go shopping. At the minimum, you can expect to spend 1.5b-2b for a bare bones setup (hey, it takes money to make money), but I usually recommend spare ships, several months of fuel up front, and a heavily armed tower. To get started, you are going to need the following:

  1. A toon capable of scanning effectively, and flying a ratting ship well. This is a BARE minimum. You will do much better if you have a toon that can salvage, run profession sites, and gas mine as well. Multiple alts doing some of these jobs is even better, but doing it all on one character is possible. (Note: I run these expeditions using only one toon).
  2. A medium/large POS. Regardless of size, you’re going to need a Ship Maintenance Array, a Corporation Hangar Array, and defenses. On a medium, anchor several small guns and your arrays, then fill the rest of the spare CPU with shield hardeners. I strongly recommend Minmatar towers: If your tower is attacked, the guns will still fire after being reinforced the first time, making the grind of taking your tower down even more arduous. If you decide to forgo hardeners and design an offensive tower, I strongly advise jammers to break up the remote reps of people attacking you, used in combination with your guns.
  3. 1-3 months of fuel. Don’t skimp on fuel, because the last thing you want to do is have to scan out an exit and move more fuel in while your tower is barking at you.
  4. A ratting ship, preferably a command ship or a tech 3 cruiser, that can tank 500-600 damage while doing 600 dps or more. To counter Sleeper neuts, the ship must be cap stable. I strongly recommend a Tech 3 cruiser and having a prober launcher equipped at all times.
  5. A Noctis for salvaging sleeper wrecks. The Data libraries that Sleepers drop are worth a lot in their own right, but salvaging can yield an additional 50m/site in a C3, or more.
  6. Optionally: A Gas Harvester ship. Occasionally, wormholes will spawn 3 and 4 digit gas sites that are worth a LOT of ISK. They’re worth doing because you can empty the good gasses out in a few hours, and a good site can yield about 500 to 800 million worth of gas. Additionally, I sometimes keep a spare ratting ship in my tower. Sometimes you will get a bad Sleeper spawn or damage cycle and you can’t catch reps, or you make a mistake, have to pee while scrambled, etc. It happens; prepare for the worst. Keep spares of everything. If your Tech 3 is your only prober inside the WH and you lose it, you are going to have a serious problem.

MAKING ISK AND CASHING OUT

Your kit is collected. You found an awesome wormhole. The tower is set up, and you’re ready to go. This is actually the easiest part of the entire expedition. Simply open your anomaly scanner, and start doing the sites that you don’t have to scan down. An average wormhole that you’re farming will spawn 10-30 a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. Once you’ve cleared them out, which should only take you 2-5 hours depending on your skill, you can then scan down the profession sites and run them. In a Class 3, I strongly advise against running Magnometric sites solo. Their triggers are significantly harder and waves larger and though they can be cleared, the risk and the time it takes is almost always not worth it.

You can repeat this process daily, or as often as you desire. Once you finish a site or two, change to your salvager and clean up the wrecks. In a class 3, a single Sleeper Battleship is worth around 12m in drops, and another 10 in salvage, C2s generally yield about 60% of the value of a C3. In a well fit Legion, you can expect to clear about 300m/hour, easily. Personally, I don’t “cash out” my haul until I’m completely done for that month or however long I purchased fuel for. At that time, I probe out an exit, ensure that everything is secure, then move my loot out. Once my loot is out, I tear down my tower, and move all my items to Jita to sell. Even ratting every other day, clearing 20b in a month is conservative, barring any significant setbacks.

When you are reading the process, it sounds like a lot of work, but once in practice it truly isn’t. I personally have copied this methodology every time I wanted a new super, toon, or just needed to PLEX my accounts for a while. Any decent pilot with a little bit of isk can do this. So grab your probes and start scanning, the gold’s there, and just waiting for someone to come take it.

 

Editors Note: This was originally written by Kimsemus for TheMittani.com

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