PI and the Wandering Eye

I have a love-hate relationship with Planetary Interaction.  On the one hand, I have had a lot of fun setting up spreadsheets and calculating optimum configurations and profit levels.  On the other hand, actually doing PI every day (or every week) is monotonous and not really all that lucrative.

I actually starting playing Eve (the first time) about the time that PI was introduced.  It looked complicated and uninteresting to me so I ignored it (EVE is supposed to be about SPACESHIPS!).  Many moons (and a new account) later I started digging into it.  Eve University had a nice wiki with quite of bit of instruction and I trained and set up my first couple of planets.  I think I extracted Plasma on one planet, Water on a different planet, and then transported them to a third planet where I turned them into Superconductors.  After a couple of weeks, I spent a small fortune on taxes (import and export) and I still had to transport the stuff to market where the sales barely covered my costs.  Lesson#1 – Don’t forget about PI taxes.  They can easily wipe out your margin.

A little later, I started slipping into lowsec.  I found a couple of nice planets just 2 jumps in from hi-sec and setup a combination of extraction and factory planets making Wetware Mainframes.  My setup required a couple of goods purchased off the market so getting them in was a little tricky.  Because it was only 2 jumps to get out (and going out of lowsec is always easier), getting my goods to market was fairly safe.  But since I didn’t want to haul more than about 80m isk in my trusty Badger Mark II, it did require at least 1 trip per week of about 12 jumps (each way).  Lesson #2 – Don’t forget about the transport time required.  It can be significant.

Then something happened which turned me off from PI for a long time.  The POCO (owned by another corporation) on my factory planet was destroyed!  I waited for about 2 weeks, but no one put up another one.  So I had about 75M isk worth of materials trapped.  I didn’t want to spend 100M+ putting up my own POCO just to get 75M off planet.  Especially since I couldn’t defend it.  So I exported it all using the “planetary launch” 500m3 at a time!  I sold off my exports and excess materials and ignored PI for at least 6 months.  Lesson #3 – Be aware that there can be significant disruptions to your supply chain.  Plan accordingly.  (Note – as of Rubicon, this will be true in High Sec just like Low Sec). 

So six months later, I adopted a new HighSec station as my base of operations.  It was in HighSec, but it allowed me to roam through lowsec in either direction and complete a 25-35 jump lowsec circuit.  I would then drop off my loot and pay Red Frog to ship it to Jita.  Since I was shipping about 800 million per week and return shipping missiles and other misc items about once a month, I thought maybe I could set up some factory only planets and take advantage of my “free shipping”.  I bought about 500M worth of PI basic commodities and shipped them to my factories.  I set up Tier2/Tier3 factories for the most profitable combinations.  My planets ran for about 10 days without restocking.  When I completed my circuit, I would load/unload my planets, and ship my exports along with my lowsec exploration loot.  The timing worked nicely and the profits were decent at first.  The problem was twofold.  1) PI commodities fluctuated in price over a 2 week period a lot more than I expected and 2) I didn’t have a dedicated alt in Jita to help manage the price fluctuations.  I set buy orders, but if they didn’t get filled by the time I need to ship, I had to buy from sell orders on my shortages.
Finally, I hated having to “re-program” my factories to try to build the most profitable items.  This probably would have worked a lot better on a 5 day cycle instead of a 10-14 day cycle.  Lesson #4 – PI manufacturing is most profitable when you quickly react to the market.  But that is a lot of work. 

So next, I just switched my planets over to pure extraction.  I set up 2 extractors and made the most profitable P2 product each planet would support.  I set my extractors on 4 days cycles an moved them around when necessary.  Every couple of weeks, I exported my products and added them to whatever shipment needed rounding up to 1 billion (the max Red Frog Freight will carry).  It was simple, low risk, and low return (maybe 150 million/month).  The level of effort to go from 150 million to 350 million really wasn’t worth 200 million.   Lesson #5 – Unless you REALLY love PI, simplest is probably best. 

I probably should have stopped there.  But shortly after the Rubicon announcement that there will now be POCO’s in HighSec, I shuttered all my HighSec planets.  I had been thinking about it anyway since I was going into HighSec less and less often.  I now have the same setup that I had in HighSec (dual extractors making P2 product), but now it is deep in LowSec.  So now my PI setups are 1) subject to POCO variable taxes and disruptions and 2) about 15 jumps from highsec and probably 30 jumps from a market hub.  Lesson #6 – Take my advice – clearly I am not using it!

So why the change?  I will attempt to justify myself in another post