Last Tuesday, the first part of the Incursion expansion went live. The patch mostly consisted of fixes that have long been requested by players, but did not result in any particular player activities. On the other hand, it also included a new ship: the Noctis.
The Noctis is a specialized salvaging vessel, and is easily the best ship at what it does. This means there are thousands of dedicated salvagers, "ninja salvagers", and mission runners that want to fly them. And that means there are hundreds or industrialists that want to make them for sale. On Tuesday, all this ran into one little snarl of a bottleneck: the blueprints were only for sale in null-security space.
style="font-style: italic;">The only ships that had half a chance of making it out alive were tech three cruisers.
CCP has introduced exclusive items exclusively found in null-sec, on a few earlier occasions. The most recent batch was the skills and blueprints involved in harvesting the gas clouds used for combat boosters. Since those never really caught on enough to be profitable, and certainly were not in demand on day one. So it didn't really cause a stir.
The Noctis, however, fills a role that has been in demand and constantly requested by players, more or less since salvaging was introduced. Destroyers and battlecruisers make decent salvagers under the right circumstances, but they can't hold a candle to to the Noctis. The marauder class of ships have comparable salvaging capabilitites, but are so expensive that most players ignore them. So: people want the Noctis, and they want it as quickly as possible. Especially since the newness of the ship translates into giving pilots a sort of EVE street cred, or at least bragging rights. This demand for the Noctis means that the market needs a blueprint that is only retrievable from two specific solar systems in the middle of a PvP zone. Cue patch day.
The Madness And Chaos
Within minutes of the Incursion patch becoming available, there were fleets of pirates surrounding all four of the stations where the Noctis blueprints can be found. Most of them had moved into place before the patch, so they could log in and be the first to set up on-site.
Corporations from the other side of New Eden formed convoys in border systems at the edge of high-security space, like Orvolle, and fought their way through to one of the systems. The entire route was filled with pirates. To an extent it still is, two days later. The most accessible system with blueprint stations, 4C-B7X, was camped right until the servers went down for the night, and again moments after they came back up.
Amidst all the hubbub, different groups took control of the stations, often displacing the pirates that were there before them. Each time that one organization held controls of one of the systems involved, however briefly, some blueprints would be smuggled out. If you were not allied with one of the player factions controlling a station, your best bet was to use a tech three cruiser to slide past the station camps. Most other ships didn't have half a prayer of getting out in one piece.
Despite the great expense and the dangers inherent to fetching them, a huge number of the blueprints have been purchased and moved to high-security space. In Jita alone, some 800 blueprints have changed hands, though it is likely that some portion of that is due to blueprints changing hands multiple times.
The blueprint retails from NPCs for 390mil ISK, but the first few sold in Jita for over 900mil ISK, and held at around 500mil for most of the next day. By now, the rush is over and the blueprint has sunk to around 407mil ISK, a not very respectable increase given the high risk involved.
The hulls build fairly quickly, and over a thousand of them have already been sold in Jita, with large numbers likely selling in the other market hubs as well. They're selling for about 57mil ISK right now, and are expected to sink down to about 50mil in the long run. Not too bad for dedicated salvagers, or new players with friends or a PLEX to sell.
What's The Big Deal?
CCP hasn't really sparked a mass convergence like this, before. Half the pirates in the game moved into Outer Ring and spread out along the routes that connect it to high-security space. They killed hapless blueprint purchasers and each other with equal glee, and some corporations supposedly even called temporary truces with each other just to make sure that more people would get ganked.
This was essentially a sandbox event that, without any GM goading, caused a ton of players to converge on a single location to struggle over early access to a new game feature. ISK changed hands, players took risks, and some people made their ISK back ten times over. The blueprints and ships are available in Jita at reasonable prices, no worse for the wear. I hope CCP makes a habit of putting these blueprints in disparate places. It gives them a unique flavor and adds to what has been referred to as "the landscape of EVE". I certainly can't think of any other reasons for going to Outer Ring.
If something like this happens again, get in position a day or two early. Make bookmarks along your route, so that you can scan gates. If you are not in a rush, hold off on getting the blueprint for a few weeks, so that things will be safer and cheaper. Even as someone accustomed to jumping around in really hostile space, I would prefer to just pay an extra 17mil ISK to get a blueprint in Jita, rather than go through all the effort of schlepping it back from the boondocks of New Eden. Otherwise, use a tech three cruiser and use a scout. And I wish you luck!
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EVE Online Game Page.