Player-owned starbases are the acme of industry in EVE Online. They are lunar satellites that can perform important tasks such as moon mining or blueprint copying. They can also serve as a base of operations for corporations seeking to invade a region of space. This is a guide to choosing which starbase to use, and how to best customize it for your purposes.
Starbases are an unfortunate corner of EVE Online: they were introduced years ago as the means by which solar systems could be conquered, with a very rough implementation and interface. Though they no longer feature as a part of sovereignty warfare, starbases retain incredible value as the way to harvest moon minerals, react chemicals together, and to set up private production facilities or labs.
Learning to use starbases is a pain in the butt. They are expensive, most valuable when used in dangerous territory like low-sec or wormhole space. They are difficult to use, with a really terrible Windows 98 style interface. They are also buggy as heck, requiring GM intervention with moderate frequency.
Starbases also require an expensive cocktail of fuels, and long periods of time to online and offline the individual starbase modules. As of the upcoming winter expansion for EVE, much will be done to allay these last two problems.
An Overview Of EVE Starbases
Starbases consist of a central control tower that is anchored at a moon and loaded with fuels, plus any additional structures that the controller has added on. Each control tower has a finite amount of CPU and power, just like ships. By themselves, the starbase control towers do not do anything except project a force field that protects creatures within its radius. In order to use the starbase for more sophisticated purposes, you must anchor the starbase equivalent of modules, called structures.
EVE Starbase structures can do lots of things. They can arm your starbase so that it can defend itself (or just shoot people that get too close). They can store piles of loot with a good amount of safety. They can give you your own private production slots for ships, modules, or whatever. Most critically, they can give you private laboratory slots for researching, copying, and inventing blueprints. Bypassing the long waits for using these slots is incredible enough on its own, but the mobile laboratories also reduce the time required for most tasks. For most players concerned with that area of the game, this is a godsend.
Getting Ready To Use A Starbase
Setting up a starbase requires the "config starbase equipment" role in your corporation. Since NPC corporations do not give out roles, this necessitates being in a player-run corporation. Many already-established corporations will not give this role out to just anybody, since it would allow you to tamper with any other starbases that they have. It's easy enough to star your own corporation, though.
Starbases must be anchored at moons. Some restrictions apply:
- The moon must not already have a starbase anchored there.
- The solar system's security rating must be .7 or lower.
- If the moon is in high-sec (that is, .5 security or higher) then your entire corporation must have good standings with the NPC faction in charge of that area (5.0 for a .5 system, 6. for a .6 system, and so forth). Your corporate standings are the mean average of each corporation member's standings. Because you only need to have high standings when the starbase is initially put up, most people find it convenient to create a corporation of one, anchor the starbase control tower, then let others join the corporation to make use of its amenities.
Choosing Your Starbase In EVE
Picking which starbase to use is usually determined by what your needs are. What do you want your starbase to do? Most importantly, you need to determine whether the structures you want to use can all fit on your tower, and whether that is cost-effective or not. Sure, everybody would prefer to have a space ten copy slots, but if you can't ensure that they produce more ISK than is consumed by fueling the control tower, you need to reevaluate.
Below are each of the main control tower types and their fitting space.
|Small Control Towers
|Amarr Control Tower Small
|Caldari Control Tower Small
|Gallente Control Tower Small
|Minmatar Control Tower Small
|Medium Control Towers
|Amarr Control Tower Medium
|Caldari Control Tower Medium
|Gallente Control Tower Medium
|Minmatar Control Tower Medium
|Large Control Towers
|Amarr Control Tower
|Caldari Control Tower
|Gallente Control Tower
|Minmatar Control Tower
Before you buy anything off the market, do the math to figure out how much fitting space you will need. Some things can fit on a small or medium, while others can barely fit on a large. Don't forget to leave room for some shield hardeners or weapons!
As a general rule, Minmatar starbases are the most deadly, Gallente are best for mining moons and simple reactions, Caldari are best for advanced reactions and labs, and Amarr are sort of half defense, half mining.
CCP's Upcoming Changes
In the as of yet unnamed Winter expansion, CCP will be changing things a bit. Instead of requiring ten or more minutes to anchor and online modules, most will be changed to take mere seconds. This will make using POS much, much less of a hair-tearing experience.
Additionally, the complicated blend of fuels needed to keep POS online will be reduced to fuel blocks that are produced by players with blueprints that make use of the previous fuel cocktail as its ingredients. In practice this will mean that a lot of people just need to grab one kind of fuel instead of eight, and the industrialists in Jita will take care of the rest. It does make it a bit harder to produce fuel locally in wormhole space, though.
Faction Starbases In EVE
There are faction variants of each control tower, but their fitting space is no higher than that of the normal towers. Their chief difference as of this writing is reduced fuel consumption, allowing for more profit over time in exchange for a more expensive initial investment. The faction towers are based on several of the various NPC pirate factions, and their post-expansion statistics are still unknown, aside from it being likely that they will have larger fuel bays (and thus need fueling less frequently) in lieu of their current bonuses.
Running a starbase can be a very lucrative business model, whether for an individual or an entire corporation. Check back with us later this week for a look at some of the more common EVE starbase setups and you will see why.
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