Another interesting week in Eve.
The Goons have decided to strangle the production of an obscure fuel so that they can make large profits while upsetting a lot of other players - both very much in keeping with their stated Alliance aims.
The Ancient Gaming Noob reported it a couple of days ago and the Gallente Ice Interdiction is proceeding according to plan. Jita Oxygen Isotopes price is up from 400 a couple of days ago to 800 with a high point of 5000.03. Yesterday evening it was 1300. I sold some of mine for 1200 and some for 1000.
The detailed version of the plan is explained by Mittani but in simpler form this is how it works. Most asteroid belts have minerals but a small amount have ice, great big icebergs in space. These can be mined by players. Each of the 4 Empire powers have their own racial ice type that is found in their space and in nearby nullsec. No ice is found in W-space.
The Goons are trying to prevent anyone from mining Gallente ice in quantity. While some ice belts are in unfriendly nullsec even these can be interdicted by an afk cloaker. But nullsec ice is not significant to the market. The main concentration of effort is on 17 high sec Gallente systems.
Part of the strength of this move comes from the nature of ice mining. The gameplay is that you turn your lasers on and about 6-10 minutes later you find a couple of blocks of ice in your hold. Depending on your mining style you may click and drag it at that point. (I ice mine with a cargo expanded ship and just dock it when it's full). It requires no more attention than at most a glance and a drag n drop once every 10 minutes or so. It is essentially an afk playstyle, it's like watching paint dry.
Because no one pays attention when mining ice this makes the people who do it very vulnerable to gankers. What's more many ice miners are bots anyway.
It's perfectly feasible to gank people in high sec with a cheap insured ship. If you ferry ships out to a safe spot you can even do this with a character with negative 10 security status (nominally a game feature to stop people ganking infinitely, clearly not quite working as intended). It's the kind of gameplay that, like so much of Eve, has a lot of built-in downtime in this case partly because you have to wait out a 15 minute timer after each gank.
It seems perfectly feasible to me that Goons can keep this up practically forever. Even if they're fighting in nullsec on one account they can have an alt account or two locking down the ice belts in high sec. Out of 7000 players in their alliance they need just 17 to park an alt at each belt to watch for miners. The only thing that might stop them is getting bored. And even if the Goons get bored someone else might gank the ice miners.
This means the fuel they are interdicted will rocket in price. I happened to have some on expensive sell orders, they've already been snapped up making me 1.5 billion isk. (The equivalent of about 4 months free game time).
Every commodity in Eve is extensively stockpiled as a general rule of thumb. So even if they completely stop supplies reaching the market it will still take a while to completely run out. But the price has already rocketed.
So how many kills have there been?
Well the Goonfleet killboard is here: https://killboard.goonfleet.com/shrugged.php It doesn't have a total but it credits the top ten killers with 174 kills. Over 75% are Mackinaws, a fitted Mackinaw was about 180m before this started (the price is soaring). So about 200 kills from Goonfleet plus more from allies not shown on that killboard (like Test Alliance).
That may only be the tip of the iceberg (ho ho!) however. In Deninard, an ice system in high sec Gallente, there have been 525 Ship Kills and 42 Pod kills in the last 24 hours. That's just one system out of 17! Brapelille has seen the deaths of 511 player ships and 22 pods.
A poster on Kugutsumen estimated it takes about 30 hours of ice mining for a Mackinaw to pay for itself. If the life expectancy of a Mack dips below 30 hours we can expect to see people stopping mining. Once some Macks stop the life expectancy of the brave few who continue decreases so with a little effort we could soon hit a point where just about no one mines ice in Gallente high sec and the few who try are almost instantly killed by hordes of bored gankers with nothing to gank.
Can the ice supply be replaced? Well stockpilers may be liquidating their stockpiles now as the price has already tripled. The Drone russians have access to nullsec Blue Ice, as of course do the Goons and their allies. Both I think can be expected to mine and sell. It is however relatively easy to interdict. Take a stealth bomber alt to an ice system and sit there cloaked. No one will mine and if they do you get a free kill. The miners aren't really defensible as it's so boring an activity. No one's going to sit there all day in a combat ship on the chance that the neutral in system is going to have a go at an ice miner.
To add to the intrigue Goons are using their position on the CSM and their influence with the development team to try to get ice further restricted. After some talk of removing it from high sec completely the devs are looking at depletable icebergs, at belts that can be exhausted.
So what lessons can be learned?
First there's probably a very good investment opportunity in Oxygen Isotopes even at the inflated Jita price. Some speculators are cashing in but it's very likely that it will keep going up. It may not seem true in the short term if a lot of people cash in but stockpiles are finite and many Oxytope consumers are locked into that fuel type (supercap pilots and Gallente POS managers).
Next there's a busy secondary market in Gallente space selling to both sides. Mackinaws and Brutixes are going to sell very nicely for the next week or two. The cheapest Mackinaw I saw in Essence Region was 199m (usual price about 125m). Likewise for modules and even implants - many miners are getting podded. Be careful supplying Macks though - at some point the market will crash as people realise there's no point undocking one.
Next if you're building a POS or training for capital ships if possible avoid the ones that use Gallente fuel (Gallente control towers, Erebus titan, Anshar jump freighter, Moros Dreadnought, Thanatos carrier, Nyx supercarrier). Fuel will get expensive and may simply not be available at all at times.
There may be knockon effects like a rise in the cost of moon minerals and T2 products but that's less dependable.
It hurts POS managers a lot more than supercap pilots. Most supercap pilots are very rich and all of them are backed by their alliances.
You may be able to ninja salvage in Gallente ice belts. There will be lots of nice dead ships. Be careful though - there will be loads of suicide gankers about!