Manufacturing / Research center:
Perhaps the most common use of a starbase is to create additional private slots for manufacturing or research. I covered the research portion of this in a previous guide but didn't really touch on the manufacturing side. Unlike public slots at crowded stations, private slots from your corp's starbases won't have a long queue as nobody outside your corp or alliance can access them. Starbase factories and labs also get inherent time bonuses that will speed up your production or research.
Any size of tower will do for this setup; larger towers will use more fuel but will also be able to fit extra equipment due to having more CPU and powergrid available. Next you'll need to get the right starbase modules for what you want to do. There are over a dozen different assembly arrays, each able to produce a different type of product. The "Equipment Assembly Array" and "Rapid Equipment Assembly Array" can both produce Tech 1 and 2 modules, with the rapid version being faster at the cost of using more materials. A "Drone Assembly Array" is required to build drones and an "Ammunition Assembly Array" for missiles and ammo. If you want to get into producing ships, there's a different ship assembly array for each size class of ship, from small, medium and large right the way up to capital class ships.
Ore / Loot depot:
One of the handiest uses of a starbase is a simple ore or loot depot in deep space or systems without stations. All that's required here is a small starbase with one ship hanger and one or more corporate hangers for storing material. Although it's possible to place an ore depot in a high security rating system once you have the required corp standing, the ISK to be made mining in highsec isn't that good. Where a depot starbase really shines is nullsec. Vast swathes of the nullsec regions are claimed by alliances but the new sovereignty system has opened up small gaps and made the need to have starbases in every system redundant.
Consequently, if you place a small starbase in an unoccupied system it's possible that it won't be noticed for days, weeks or even months. In that time, you can use the depot to store ore from mining or loot from killing the local NPC pirates. It doubles as a safespot for when potential enemies enter the system and you can store mountains of ammo in it. Depots are particularly useful in the fractured rogue drone regions, where the lack of ISK bounties on NPC ships makes the collection of loot all the more important.
Starbases aren't only good for industrial purposes, they also have significant uses in PvP. By anchoring a small starbase with no modules in an enemy system, you create a safe space for corp or alliance ships. Even without any modules anchored, a starbase still has a shield bubble and pilots inside can't be targeted. This makes it an ideal staging location to coordinate attacks in a system from or a good safe house for pilots being chased by a hostile gang.
A small throw-away starbase costs around 100 million ISK and if placed in an enemy system, you can be sure they'll attack it. Even if that happens, however, you'll still have a safe spot within the system for one or two days. When a starbase is attacked and reaches 25% shield, it goes into reinforced mode and becomes invulnerable until its supply of Strontium Clathrates runs out. This can be used to create a temporary tactical safespot for your fleet as even in reinforced mode, the starbase will still have a force field bubble.
Unlike a tactical safespot, the death star is intended as a long-term or permanent base. These are large starbases set up with the absolute maximum defensive capabilities. A typical Death Star is loaded with guns and energy neutralising batteries for use in defending the tower but there are similar alternatives. A "Roadblock" starbase is filled with as many shield hardeners as possible to make the enemy siege a long and boring affair. Similarly, a tower in a cyno-jammed or high security system where capital ships aren't a threat can be loaded up with ECM jammers to make the fight against it long and difficult.
Death Stars can be placed in an enemy system in an attempt to gain a foothold as part of an invasion or used as a defensive fallback position in your own systems. When preparing for battles, spare ships can be stored in the starbase to let pilots who die get right back into the action. Death Stars used to be a very common sight in New Eden as starbases were required for sovereignty but with the new sovereignty system not every system needs one. They are now used mostly to house system upgrades like Jump Bridges and Cynosural System Jammers, making the upgrades difficult for an enemy to take out.
In several previous articles, I looked at wormhole space and the utility of setting up a starbase in one of EVE's 2500 hidden star systems. From a pirate hideout used to raid nullsec systems to a full-on refinery for a mining corp, wormhole bases are a great asset for a corp to have. Living in a starbase inside a wormhole system presents its own set of challenges, however. Without a station to dock at, all ships and modules must be kept inside the starbase and there must be a ship hanger to refit at.
This means the force field and ship maintenance array must be set to allow access to the entire corp, which has the unintended side-effect that anyone in the corp could steal ships from the hanger. Leaving ships floating in the force field is an equally big mistake as they can be stolen or bumped out of the starbase. A good solution that I've found works is to have two hangers; one with low-value communal ships accessible by anyone in the corp and another with higher-value contents which requires the starbase fuel technician role to access. Anyone trusted with access to the expensive ship hanger can then be given the starbase fuel technician role.
Starbases can be a major benefit to all types of corp, whether it's a death star planted in an enemy system to gain a foothold, a wormhole base for exploration operations or just an ore depot in a high security system. These are five useful ways a starbase can be configured but it's far from a complete list. As they can be configured in different ways to fulfill different roles, starbases are definitely one of the most versatile tools a corporation or alliance can have.