As a member of a medium-sized alliance surrounded on all sides by much larger entities, CCP’s recent announcement of Refineries, and the mechanics associated with them, have filled us with hope for the next year of EVE. Over the last few years, CCP have seemed to be trying to strip the ability of large space and moon-holding blocs to project power into neighbouring regions. First CCP introduced Aegis Sovereignty, which hindered the ability of larger entities to hold space by force projection alone. The announcement of Refineries appears to be CCP’s attempt to remove the ability to control moon empires.
In EVE Online, alliances and corporations have the ability to place Control Towers, or POS’s near planetary moons. The ability to passively mine materials from these moons, and the wealth that these moons provide, has led to many famous conflicts in the history of New Eden. EVE is about to enter a new a period in its history. Refineries aim to remove the passiveness from moon mining, and make it so that alliances have to be active in the space where they control moons. This change is going to completely change the political face of New Eden, particularly in Low-Sec space, where large entities rely on the income of moons to sustain their ship replacement programmes.
For smaller alliances, however, these changes present an opportunity to seize income in their local areas from the large power blocs, and take wealth for themselves. Of course, there will always be entities who adapt to the changes, and continue to make large amounts of ISK, but the passive income of the past is about to change.
What are Refineries?
According to the relevant CCP developer blog, Refineries will work in the following ways:
- A refinery that is deployed close enough to a moon can fit a special moon drilling service module. Fitting of this module will only be an option if no other drills are fit to other Refineries around the same moon, so only one structure can mine each moon at a time. This service module gives the owners the ability to designate how large of a fracking operation they wish to begin, with larger chunks taking longer time to prepare.
- The moon drilling module begins blasting a chunk of the moon away from its surface and dragging it towards the structure. This process takes between one and several weeks depending on the choices made by the structure owner. Observers can watch the chunk move through space as a way of estimating when it will reach the Refinery.
- Once the chunk of moon rock has completed its journey into space, the Refinery can use its drill module to detonate the chunk into a minable asteroid field. The exact time of the detonation is controlled by the owners of the Refinery within limits. If the chunk is left unattended long enough it will disintegrate into the asteroid field on its own.
- The new asteroid field that appears with the explosion of the chunk will contain new types of valuable ores that will yield moon minerals when reprocessed. The composition of the field will depend on the composition of moon materials available in the moon. The field will generally remain far enough away from the Refinery structure that you won’t be able to effectively mine it from docking range but close enough for a pilot controlling the Refinery to be able to cover the friendly miners and/or attack uninvited guests.
- Once the chunk has exploded, the drilling module can begin fracturing a new part of the moon to start the process again.
The implications of this change are huge, and will no doubt force changes in many regions of New Eden. There are many possibilities of where this change will lead us, and I have offered my predictions below.
What does this mean for sovholders?
Many major Low-Sec alliances make the majority of their income from passively mining moons. With the loss of this source of passive income, there will only be two possibilities for these groups to ensure their member’s ability to make ISK, that does not include alt accounts:
- These alliances will have to procure either Moon Rental alliances, which will work by renting out the ability to mine the asteroid belt to corporations, and taking a set percentage of their income. While this methodology will work in theory, anyone has the ability to mine from these belts, and unless you can project sufficient enough power to defend these groups while they mine the minerals, the chances of somebody willing to mine, and be taxed for mining in low-sec without protection, are very low
- The only other options for low-sec entities is to extort nearby smaller entities. By allowing smaller entities to establish Refineries on wealthy moons, it allows the larger entities to demand a percentage of the income from these moons. This is the probable outcome for most low-sec entities, and makes the most sense from a military standpoint.
In Null-Sec space, the same problem is common: many large entities have the ability to project their power, and influence, allowing them to control wealth moons in the neighbouring regions. In Null-Sec however, there are multiple different reasons to expect the outcome to be different.
- Refineries, and the asteroid belts that result from their operations, will be much harder to control. In order to gather the wealth from these moons, the owner of the Refinery will both need the ability to provide a way for their miners to access the space safely, and provide a way for those miners to safely extract the minerals. This completely changes in Null-Sec, as the owner of the space has the ability to place system-wide Cynosaural Inhibitors, nullifying the invaders ability to support the mining fleet through a Cyno.
- Mining increases the ADM (Active Defence Modifier) of the system the mining takes place in, while this isn’t necessarily a deterrent to foreign powers holding rich moons within your systems, it allows you to see if there is activity in those systems by Mining Fleets simply by watching your ADM’s.
- With the ability to project your power into someone else’s system to defend your miners, there is only one possibility for Null-Sec empires to maintain their huge wealth when the Refineries are implemented, and that is to have mining CTA fleets. This is a concept which I find amusing, and which I can never see becoming a thing. While the owner of the Refinery will be able to know the time of the asteroid belt spawning, unless the entity is willing to have multiple belts spawn at once, and defend the mining fleets, projection into someone else’s territory to actively mine moons, will be much harder than passive mining.
While these changes look like they are going to change the face of moon empires, it is a strong possibility that those who already hold territory will simply change from harvesting passive income to acting as active landlords. This is definitely something I can see entities like Pandemic Legion incorporating in order to retain some form of income from Moons.
The future is definitely looking up for smaller entities. However, the implementation of Refineries, and Alliances response to their implementation is difficult to fully predict at this point. CCP is definitely making changes for the better in New Eden, and is not afraid to upset the larger entities in order to make income more accessible.