EVE Starbases Made Simple, Part Two (EVE Online Guide)

This guide features a tutorial on how to set up starbases in order to react valuable materials that can then be used or sold for ISK. It is the second part of a series on setting up EVE starbases.

There are many uses for starbases in EVE Online. They can be private factories, lucrative laboratories, military bases, homes in deep space, or even drug labs. But the most basic application for them is to mine moon minerals. Taking that one step farther, multiple moon minerals can be reacted together to create more valuable substances used to make tech two ships and modules. Corporations and alliances squabble for control over the most valuable moons, but there is good ISK to be made even if you are reacting ingredients purchased in Jita, mined by others.

See the previous guide in this series to familiarize yourself with the basics of starbase setup, and our moon mining guides (part one and part two) for the particulars of anchoring structures and connecting them to each other. Otherwise, enjoy the guide.

The Shoe That Fits: EVE Starbase Setups

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Because the expense of fuel increases with the size of a starbase control tower, the goal when designing a starbase setup is generally to get as much done with as small a tower as possible. Some setups are possible with small towers, others require medium or large towers. Certain setups are more particular, necessitating a tower of a particular size.

This is particularly important with reactions. You must add as much value to your reacted materials as possible, with each hour of reaction that takes place. You must also strive to keep your hourly fuel and material costs as low as possible, so as not to take all the profitability out of your reaction. It can be trickier than it sounds, especially during times when the moon mineral market is unstable.

On the following pages, we present basic setups for your EVE starbase reactions, and explain the particulars of each of them. In each case, we total the CPU needed so that you can determine what control towers it is possible to use that setup with. When picking which towers to use them on, remember that spare fitting space is always useful for defenses, corporate hangar arrays, or other useful gear.

EVE Starbase Basics: Moon Mining Towers

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style="font-style: italic;">Total CPU: 1,000 tf

The diagram shown here is the simplest industrial setup for a moon. A moon harvester extracts a single moon mineral from those available on the moon. It then stores it in a silo. This is the setup used in our guide to clandestine moon mining, and by a goodly number of players generally in EVE Online. It can fit on a small tower with ease, though this is not recommended except in the most quiet areas of EVE, especially if the moon contains one of the more valuable materials.

In the case of something really valuable (like technetium is, as of this writing) it would be extremely risky to have anything other than a large control tower with lots of defenses. If, on the other hand, you are just grabbing something crappy and common, like evaporite deposits, you can likely get away with a small.

Note that depending on how excellent your supply abilities are, it may in fact be cheaper to buy a moon mineral in Jita, than to mine it yourself. This is due in large part to there being a constant supply of the more common moon minerals produced by towers that are also doing other things, like acting as a base for ratters or a relay for jump bridges.

EVE Starbase Basics: Simple Reactions

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style="font-style: italic;">Total CPU: 3,000 tf

The next step up in terms of complication is reacting minerals. It is simple enough: two silos or moon harvesting arrays are set up to feed their materials into a simple reactor array that contains a reaction blueprint, that then deposits the reacted product into yet another silo. Note first that each silo can only be set to contain a single material. Note also that for the purpose of reactions, silos and moon harvesters are largely identical, as they both require the same CPU. Though silos require a bit more power, CPU is almost always the limiting factor when designing a reaction starbase.

The main difference is in your bottom line, since you would much rather harvest a material than buy it on the Jita market. Unfortunately for would-be industrialists everywhere, the good moons are pretty much taken. One possible exception is when an alliance vacates an area, without others rolling in to live in the space. Even so, you can be sure that the really good moons will always have someone ready to take over, or that the vacating alliance will retain control of them for as long as possible, even when they have lost every station in the region. This is chiefly because of the EVE map site Dotlan, which has made a vast amount of moon scan information public knowledge. On an alliance level, the first thing that many corporations worry about when moving into a new region is what moons they can grab.

Your best case scenario for finding a moon is likely to be a mineral of middling value that can be reacted with an expensive Jita mineral to make a more product. Often times, it just makes sense to drop a control tower somewhere convenient and then buy both of the ingredients at Jita.

An important point to note is that moon minerals can only be reacted in solar systems with .3 security or below. That means high-sec space is right out.

EVE Starbase Mechanics: Complex Reactions

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style="font-style: italic;">Total CPU: 4,500 tf

Complex reactions happen exactly the same way as simple reactions, with the following exceptions:

  • They make use of a Complex Reactor Array, which requires more CPU and power than a Simple Reactor. This necessitates using a large tower.
  • The ingredients used in a complex reaction are only produced by reacting together other moon minerals. This means that you cannot use a moon harvester to provide the ingredients, only silos.
  • Complex reactions sometimes require more than two ingredients.
  • Complex reactions often output material with sizable mass. Some reactions may fill up a silo much faster than simple reactions.

Our example shown aboveis how to make Fernite Carbide. Note that while both of the ingredients are produced by simple reactions, the Fernite Alloy is much more expensive than the ceramic powder. If you are looking to make ISK and have the right moons available, it makes more sense to make the former and buy the latter. Indeed, ceramic powder is often made at a loss due to its extremely low cost. Complex reactions often make up for this loss overall, though.

Unlike any material produced by a simple reactor, fernite carbide is an advanced material that can be used directly in the production of tech two ships and modules. This is helpful because it insulates you from market fluctuations: even if fernite carbide is underpriced on the market due to market manipulation or other factors, you can still use it to make tech two modules and ships which are unlikely to be particularly affected by the slump.

EVE Starbase Mechanics: Large Towers

Though EVE Online is a game where bigger is not always better, control towers are one area where that is definitively so. A larger tower will be able to host more structures, better defenses, and will be more arduous for your enemies to attack. While a single player might reinforce and eventually reinforce a small control tower, a well-defended large control tower necessitates a fleet, usually of capital ships. It also requires a great deal of time, depending on how many ships are attacking and whether they fear a counter-attack.

Though the painful nature of attacking a large starbase is a disincentive for many attackers, it also may attract some. Some players will assume that your reaction tower is more valuable, if it is large and does not need to be. This is especially true of faction control towers or those that have faction structures anchored.

EVE Starbase Mechanics: Complex/Simple Reaction Combinations

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style="font-style: italic;">Total CPU: 7,000 tf

If you have decided to use a large control tower to host a complex reaction, you might as well take things another step. A large Caldari starbase can host both a simple and complex reaction at once, enabling you to produce one of your own source materials, hopefully in a way that increases your profits.

Notably, the other three racial towers do not have sufficient CPU.

In our example here, we are producing both fernite alloy and fernite carbide on the same starbase. You will need to continually refill the ceramic power silo, as well as the scandium or vanadium silos (unless those are able to be mined from your moon, in which case harvesters are the way to go.

The simple reaction shown will produce twice as much fernite alloy as needed to keep your complex reactor running, so you will need to periodically empty your fernite alloy silo, as well, to avoid waste.

Some Final Words On EVE Starbases

I leave you with some general tips to running your reaction starbase:

  • Keep your profit spreadsheet updated to reflect price changes. It would not do to accidentally be subtracting value from your ingredients!
  • Keeping more than one control tower fueled and reacting is a lot of work. Don't drop multiple towers unless you have tried taking care of a single one for at least a few weeks.
  • If you must have multiple starbases, they had best not be in different systems or, god forbid, several jumps away from each other.
  • Check out our guide to producing your own starbase fuel. That's good ISK, right there.

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