A step by step guide to building an Archon carrier in EVE Online.
Under normal circumstances, I try to orient our guides as much toward newbies as possible. Despite these intentions, I sometimes find myself making comprehensive spreadsheets for more advanced projects that just beg to have articles written about them.
In this case, I was doing the maths involved with making an archon, the Amarr carrier, and realized that there are plenty of EVE players out there that have no idea about how capital ships are built. Even if building capitals is a distant dream for you, it may be useful to understand how the process works.
Why Make An Archon?
The archon looks like some kind of satanic insect.
Like most capital ships, carriers cannot use normal gates, cannot enter high-security space, and must use cynosural fields to travel. The archon is one of the most popular varieties of carrier because it is so tough. Note that unlike supercapital-class vessels, carriers are capable of docking inside stations.
My need for an archon is acute because of the moon mining that I do. A carrier is a much more efficient way to refuel and empty silos, at least compared to the heavy transport ships that I have been using. Since I am a very "do it yourself" kind of person, the idea of building the carrier and writing about it appealed to me. In this case, I was very impressed at the profit margins for building a capital ship: even without the great deals I got on minerals and blueprints, the archon would be made at well below cost.
Building capital ships differs from building normal ships in several key ways. First of all, they cannot be built in high-security space. This means that you need to be able to bring everything needed together outside of high-security space. That right there is a big deal-breaker for many people, but it is something that needs to be gotten over if you want to do some of the Big Things in EVE Online.
Most capitals are probably built in low-security space due to the proximity to the minerals sold in high-security space, though there is no reason not to make them in null-security or wormhole space if a sufficient supply of minerals can be made available. The Frerstorn solar system is supposed to be sort of a low-sec capital ship hub, if you are interested in going that route.
In null-sec, minerals can often be obtained via buy orders or dedicated mining. There are parts where minerals with absurdly low buy orders will be filled to significantly reduce your costs, though they often take much longer to be filled than fair prices. I was lucky enough to find such a station and, given a couple weeks of minding buy orders, got myself a sufficiently large stack of cut-rate minerals to put together a capital ship.
No matter where you are making the ship, it can be a good idea to import chunks of minerals (compressed or otherwise) from high-security space. The best way to compress minerals is usually to build "Tachyon Beam Laser I" modules and then refine them at a station with low or no taxes and a perfect refining character. If this is an NPC station, high standings with the owner of the station will be necessary.
A Note About Wormholes
Note that capital vessels can be built in wormhole space by erecting a POS with a capital ship construction array, though the minerals will likely be painful to assemble. It is possible to bypass this by using a wormhole connection to high-security space and hauling the already-assembled capital construction components through.
The higher cost of the already-produced components will likely eat up a big chunk of your savings, and it is entirely possible to build a capital inside of a wormhole that it cannot escape and that other capitals cannot enter, resulting in a hilariously entrenched defensive advantage. Since wormholes often exchange hand through sale, the trapped carrier is not necessarily a financial liability.
As with any niche industrial project in EVE, there are several skills, blueprints, and material ingredients that need to be obtained.
First of all, you should buy and train the following skills:
- Capital Ship Construction III
- Mechanic V
- Industry V
- Production Efficiency V
Like tech two modules, capital ships are built using components rather than raw materials. In this case, the capital components are made using raw minerals. Easy enough, except that the blueprint originals for making those components cost over a billion ISK, each.
Magnify your profits by getting cheap deals on minerals.
Sure, it might theoretically be nice to be able to make capital ships with blueprint originals, but not if it takes literally years for them to earn enough ISK to repay their cost and turn a net profit. It's hard to pin numbers on this, but a big portion of capitals are definitely made with copied blueprints, and the profit margins are large enough to make that worthwhile.
The blueprint copies you are looking for are as follows:
- x1 Archon Blueprint (look for material efficiency 2 or higher).
- x6 Capital Propulsion Engine
- x4 Capital Sensor Cluster
- x10 Capital Armor Plates
- x10 Capital Capacitor Battery
- x10 Capital Power Generator
- x4 Capital Shield Emitter
- x10 Capital Jump Drive
- x40 Capital Drone Bay
- x4 Capital Computer System
- x8 Capital Construction Parts
- x10 Capital Ship Maintenance Bay
- x10 Capital Corporate Hangar Bay
The numbers above assume a blueprint with material efficiency 2. Higher than that does not seem to improve the results any, but lower will increase your costs.
This is an area where you can save a ton of ISK by bargain hunting. There are usually cheap blueprints available even a few jumps out from Jita, if you don't mind a little travel time.
As usual, the minerals are where most of your costs happen. Assuming you have reasonable material efficiencies on all the blueprints involved (including the archon blueprint and each of the capital components), your mineral needs should be something like this:
- 18,024 Megacyte
- 41,660 Zydrine
- 41,660 Nocxium
- 232,384 Isogen
- 5,202,308 Mexallon
- 14,013,404 Pyerite
- 57,115,542 Tritanium
These may seem like pretty impressive stacks of minerals, but if you choose your location carefully and mind your buy orders, you will be surprised how fast the stacks add up. Check out the graphs on the next page to see where your cost-saving efforts can best be spent.
I have been pretty lucky in this particular project, and got my minerals at very cheap prices. The math given here is a bit higher, and the average high-sec mineral prices as given by EVE Geek, which you should be able to improve on without too much effort. Heck, even just by using buy orders outside of Jita, you stand to knock off 10% or more off your mineral costs. Find a system where nobody is buying except with regional buy orders, and you will be even happier.
Some graphs showing costs and cost-breakdowns:
As you can see, there is plenty of room for profit even with blueprint copies and average mineral prices.
Tritanium and mexallon are obviously where you should be focusing your cost-saving attentions.
Well, there you have it. Don't forget to get some modules, capital module blueprint copies (if desired) and most importantly, a stack of helium isotopes to act as fuel for the archon's jump drive. Having a friend or second account to open cynosural fields is also a must-have for capital travel.
Thanks for reading, and I hope that even if building capitals does not interest you, you got something out of the guide.