Catching up on the blog, I've had some thoughts. As usual, my thoughts were prompted by Mynxee's questions .. though she claims she didn't ask any, I know better ...
Boosters .. are they worth the cost? This isn't gonna be some number filled min/max analysis. Frankly there's too many variables to really answer this question. Rather, I'd just like to look at the question in the context of Eve. Eve, our one true addiction, is simply amazing .. the min/max analysis fails because of play choice and almost limitless options.
Mynxee's musing (that better than question?) was that given the cost of standard boosters (5-8 million per unit ... if you are paying more per unit of standard, give me a call! You're getting ripped off!), boosters seemed to expensive an option for anything but your nice, shiny T2 ships. While that cost analysis holds for frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, there are lots more pricey ships that might warrant the cost of boosters. But I promised, no numbers. She figured that if insurance can actually cover the measley cost of your T1 ship, why invest in boosters. But are boosters worth it only to keep your ship from going pop?! I can hear the chorus of isk-strapped pilots saying, "hell yeah!" But really, Eve is so open-ended that I can't account for every tactical situation.
Here's just one tale .. once upon a time, I was a lousy lousy tackler in a roving gang. Now, I didn't suck just cos I would constantly get popped (though I did) .. I sucked cos I didn't get the job done, I couldn't keep the target scrambled long enough to allow the dps-ers to come in and pound the poor sap. Now, even with boosters, I probably still would've gotten popped. But I might have lasted just a minute or two longer ... a minute or two that could make all the difference in the outcome of a battle.
Whether that booster gives you a bit more range, a bit more tank, a bit more/less damage .. that little bit can defy even the best number-crunchers. Now is that little bit worth the cost of standard boosters? Maybe ..
No, I didn't get into my own stash and go crazy .. the hangover I'm speaking of does not involve illicit substances of any kind. I've been scarce lately cause I've been on a week-long bender .. of missions. Yes, even your local pusher has to do missions in Eve, unglamorous though they are.
I REALLY wanted to get some jump-clones. Now for many pilots, that's not a problem as their corp usually confers instant standings allowing for jc's. But not Es & Whizz .. we're a motley bunch of dealers, smugglers, and drug-cookers who apparently have better things to do than grind missions. Thus, left to my own devices, I did just that .. grinding grinding grinding missions.
I'm here to tell you that I'd rather do nothing but mine and do market spreadsheets than run those inane missions over and over (and over) again. I know that for some, missions are your Eve bread and butter. But after days of watching my standing bump up .02 - .08 per mission, I'm sick of em.
Seems to me that there's a real scourge among our young pod pilots .. and its not illicit combat boosters .. it is soul-crushing mission running.
My posting schedule is a lot like my desk .. messy as all hell .. whatever floats to the top gets posted. But I've long been promising to do some more detailed writing on booster effects. With Eve being down for the installation of Quantum Rise, its the perfect time.
The first booster I'm tackling is X-Instinct. Its timely because its about to change drastically under the new patch. This booster used to be for those nano-heads out there offering boosts to speed.
But no more! With Quantum Rise, X-Instinct will now offer a boost to signature radius .. ahem, that's a decrease to sig radius .. I can already hear the huh's out there. That's right, there's nothing like drugs and math.
So what's sig radius and why should you care? I'll take the easy question first. You should care a lot. Flying with a lower sig radius will make you harder to target, track, and you'll take less damage. I really tried to write out all the formulas for this stuff. If you're into radians and Pi, you're gonna love this. But once I awoke from the coma, I decided just to give you the link. EveWiki has a great article on this stuff. What I'm gonna try to do is add some practical information to the mathematical morass.
What's all this mean? We all know that a lower sig radius is better. But how low is low? When is it really gonna make a difference? I'll give a few examples since no one could do an exhaustive list since there are so many variables involved, from skill levels, ammo type, implants, rigs, not to mention a legion of e-war variables.
Let's assume a slaver Amarrian in a Harbinger happens upon a Minmatar Stabber. Let's also assume that the crafty Minmatar pilot has ingested some standard x-instinct. The Harbringer has a scan resolution of 210, while its medium lasers have a signature resolution of 125 (tech 1, tech 2, beam, pulse doesn't matter ... ALL turrets of the same type and size have identical sig resolutions.) The Stabber without the x-instinct has a sig radius of 105, but with the 10% bonus offered by the x-instinct, its sig radius is effectively 94.5.
With these numbers we can work out a few things. First how long does it take the evil, slaver Amarrian to lock the heroic freedom-fighter? Without the booster, it would take a shade over 45 seconds to get a lock. With the booster, it takes 50 seconds. Ok, nothing incredible here but 5 seconds can make or break a battle. And with Improved and Strong versions of X-Instinct, it gets even better - 53 seconds with Improved and 56 seconds for Strong.
I'm gonna leave out a complicted turret tracking example. Tracking really comes into play with ships of greatly different sizes. Turrets differ widely on tracking speed, and ship speed plays a large part too.
But where sig radius becomes vital is in damage. If the sig radius of a target is lower than the sig resolution of the weapon shooting at it, the target will take only a percentage of the maxamium potential damage from that weapon. In our example, the brave Matari pilot already has some edge, flying the sleek Stabber with a low sig radius. If he had not taken the booster, he would take 70.5% of the maximum damage the evil slaver's lasers could dish out. But with the standard x-instinct booster, he is exposed to only 57% of that damage. Better than a 10% reduction in damage. If we up the strength of the booster we get better and better results. Improved X-Instinct gives a 15% reduction in sig radius meaning that the damage is reduced to 51% of total. And if our brave freedom fighter took Strong with its 20% reduction, he is exposed to only 45% of maximum damage. That's a 25% improvement over no boosters at all!
Now the question of whether its worth it is all up to you. X-Instinct prices range from as low as 2-3 million for Synth, 6-8 million for Standard, 15 million for Improved, and 45-50 million for Strong. That's a fortune for some pilots and pocket change to others. Aside from price, boosters can also free up important slots. There are lots of e-war options for reducing your opponents tracking speed, locking speed, etc. But with a booster, you don't have to take up any precious slots, train up e-war skills, or manage cap.
Eve is all about options ... the new improved X-Instinct offers some interesting ones.
I've been heartened by the responses I've received from this little blog. They echo some of the responses I've gotten to my rather clumsy efforts at cold-calling potential customers. There's nothing quite like a drug-dealer doing sales calls.
Often these sales calls (eve-mail) go unanswered. A few are unkindly returned with some blather about me being worse than an isk-seller or laughing at me for presuming that someone would want to fly "under the influence." But some are like the one I got recently. "Wow, I have my own dealer now! This game keeps getting better and better."
It felt great to be make a contribution to someone else's game experience. Its also the reason I wanted to be a drug-dealer ... cos its an frickin brilliant idea. And Eve is such a great game because it allows for such ideas to grow, to impact other players. The sandbox at its best.
I regularly browse the recruitment boards ... my cold-call list is revealed! I know there are as many play-styles as there are players in Eve. But I go into narcoleptic fits when I see posts for corps that do mining, mission running, industry. There's no idea there .. indeed, there's no there there. I mean, drug-producing does involve mining, production, market trading. But its got STYLE.
So I have to give it up to my corp/alliance once again for taking an idea and running with it in such style. So if you're looking for a niche out there, be creative .. be bold ..
I'm waiting for my man Twenty-six dollars in my hand Up to Lexington, 125 Feel sick and dirty, more dead than alive ...
Feeling curious? Want to pew-pew with little bit of edge that makes all the difference? Just how do you buy illicit narcotics in Eve? It's probably a lot easier than you think.
First off, where can boosters be found? Suprisingly, in your local market screen probably. Its completely legal to sell boosters in the marketplace. And the cartels of the Hedonisitic Imperative do just that. We aren't the only booster producers out there. Some big alliances produce for their own pilots .. other corps produce specific lines of boosters. Es & Whizz and the Hedonistic Imperative pride ourselves on a wide array of boosters in variety of strength. Now the rub lies in the fact that you probably want to move your purchase from the market hub to wherever you'd be likely to use it. Don't know how or don't want to risk smuggling yourself?
That's where procurement specialists come in. Myself and many of my corp-mates (they taught me everything I know!) are happy to sell you product and even deliver to the destination of your choice. A delivery fee may apply depending where you want the product delivered .. low-sec? null-sec?! No problem ...
Now once the product is delivered there are some oddities with the contract system in Eve (surprise surprise) .. its ONLY legal to make a want to buy contract for contraband. The seller can't initiate an item exchange contract. So, you either have to meet the pusher-man in station and do a direct trade or initiate the contract that we're happy to fill.
Where can you find a dealer?! I am but one of our proud alliance. Feel free to eve-mail or email me. I can hook you up. You can also visit the "narcotics" channel to meet a variety of dealers who are eager for your business.
Its hard out there pushing drugs .. I'll regale you later with some of the odd local chats I've had while pushing. Support your local dealer and buy some boosters today!
Coming Up - Price comparisons ... boosters versus modules versus implants .. pros and cons ... this article has been delayed since I discovered that EFT shows ALL potential booster side-effects as active. It's thrown a wrench in my plans and has forced me to do the math myself .. the horror .. the horror ..
Heya .. just passing on the word. Massively.com is running a little Eve event right here. You could win eve time cards, eon magazines or even eve strategic maps. All you have to do is comment on the thread with your favorite ship ...
My answer? Hard choice but honestly I'm a relative newbie .. I'd have to say something in the covert ops line. I love my Cheetah, but my choice was the Hound, woof woof! Got to love the silent but deadly hound.
Ok, rounding out the most basic info on boosters, I wanted to talk about moving contraband through high-sec, or smuggling. When I'm selling boosters in high-sec, the most common question is "Just how do I move em?" This question is understandable. There's not a lot of information on smuggling out there and there's also another nasty number list to scare the wary.
First off, lets talk about those nasty numbers. Standard and higher grade combat boosters are contraband in all regions of Empire. Getting caught with them will earn you standing loss, confiscation, and a hefty, but ill-defined, fine. The consequences are the same for standard, improved, and strong grade .. no extra penalty for the "good stuff."
The standing loss is .10, hardly a deterrent. However the fine is 200% of estimated market value. Honestly, I have no idea how this estimated. I have never been caught so I can only estimate myself. Standard Exile sells on the market for between 6 and 8 million isk per unit. So if you're caught with 5 of em, that seems to be at least a 60 million ISK fine.
And lets be clear on the law ... possession in station is not illegal, being under the influence of a booster is not illegal, ONLY transporting contraband is illegal. If you want to be perfectly safe, ask for delivery to your hub. Pop em in station and undock. Es and Whizz is happy to accomodate you for a delivery fee.
I'm a little hesitant to go babbling about smuggling. There's a mystique about it, a real sense of mystery. So out of respect to the film-noir aura of smuggling, I won't spill the secrets ... sorry ;-)
Alright, since I'm fighting EFT to show boosters correctly, I thought I'd do some posts on the issues that give boosters a bad name: side-effects and handling illegal goods. But I should mention that these next 2 discussions DO NOT involve synth boosters. Synth is perfectly legal and perfectly safe, no side-effects, no customs agents to dodge.
But first those pesky side-effects. I must admit the ingame info window for boosters are down-right scary. Each booster has a frightening list of negative modifiers. To the untrained eye, that list makes boosters look downright foolish to take. So let's train those eyes.
I'll use standard exile as an example, a great boost of 20% in armor repair. But that list of side-effects: 20% missile explosion penalty, -20% tracking penalty, -20% armor hitpoint penalty, and -20% capacitor capacity. Ouch .. looks horrible, right?
Not really, boosters carry a CHANCE of side-effects. Standard boosters have a 20% chance. If the fates are against you and you fail that 20% chance, you will get ONE negative modifier, randomly selected. But it goes on, if you get one side-effect, you then have a 2% chance of a second side-effect, again randomly chosen from the remaining negative modifiers (you can't get same side-effect twice). If you are the unluckiest person on earth and you get a 2nd side-effect, you get a .2% chance of a third. You can see the trend downward in side-effect probability.
Note, that if you pass that first test, you are home free .. no side-effects at all! If one (or more) occur, they last the duration of the booster, base 30 minutes.
Improved Boosters carry a base 30% chance, scaling downward exponentially. And strong works the same way, with a base 40% chance.
Not nearly as frightening as that list might lead you to believe.
One final note, you can deal with side-effects with some skill trainig. As I've mentioned before, Neurotoxin Recovery gives you a 5% reduction in the chance of a side-effect occuring per level. So taking the above example again, with Nanite Control V, you havea 15% of the first side-effect, 1.5% for a second, and so on ..
The other key skill is Nanite Control, giving you a 5% reduction in the side-effect modifier per level. So with Nanite Control V, IF you triggered a side effect, it would be less punishing, a -15% modifier instead of-20%.
So don't fear that list .. oh, and do more boosters!