EVE Evolved: Making ISK from the Crius release

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​EVE Online's economy has been studied over the years for its resemblance to the real world, and it is often cited as an example of a hyper-capitalist society with no laws or regulation. But underneath the emergent interplay of supply and demand that has fueled everything from freighter businesses to virtual investment banks, EVE is ultimately a game. The biggest influence on the markets by far has always been CCP Games and the changes it deploys in expansions, which shake the universe up and force players to adapt to new circumstances.

There's always money to be made from major gameplay changes, and accurately predicting how an expansion will impact on the market can put you on the head of a short-lived but very lucrative gold rush. Though EVE's updates now come in the form of ten smaller releases per year, the upcoming Crius release scheduled for July 22nd has practically a whole expansion's worth of changes to industry and research. That gives you just over two weeks to prepare for the change, train any skills you might need, and figure out how to cash in on EVE's industrial revolution.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I run down some tips for how to prepare for the upcoming industry revamp in Crius and make some ISK.

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Relocate your manufacturing base

The number of manufacturing and research slots in each space station in EVE is currently limited, and each slot has its own queue that can reach weeks or months in length. The wait time to install a manufacturing job in the trade hub station in Jita is currently over seven days, but the actual cost of the job is a negligible 1,000 ISK installation fee plus around 800 ISK per hour. Trade hubs are convenient places to buy materials and sell your finished products, but serious manufacturers will usually move a few jumps out from the trade hubs in search of empty manufacturing slots with no wait times.

Crius changes basically every single part of that equation. Manufacturing slots will no longer be limited, there will be no wait times on jobs, and install costs will scale up to considerable levels in heavily used stations. The best place to manufacture immediately following the patch will be systems that are near trade hubs but are hardly ever used for manufacturing. Manufacturing costs will also be lower if the solar system has more manufacturing stations in it, so open the map and look for systems with manufacturing services. Itamo, Muvolailen, and Annaro are three good examples close to Jita that may be cheap manufacturing hubs when Crius hits, but this may change as time goes on and players start filling up the system with jobs.

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Running your own factories

The easiest way to save ISK in manufacturing has always been to run your own private factory from a starbase, which has an upkeep cost in the form of fuel but will usually be more cost-effective than station facilities. The big down side is that your factory will be at serious risk of attack if a corporation declares war on you, and your materials and the blueprints stored inside could be stolen. Starbase assembly arrays currently just give you access to a few exclusive manufacturing slots and bypass station taxes, but in Crius they're getting a huge buff in usability and profitability.

A small starbase with a single assembly array will give you unlimited production capacity just like a station, but it will manufacture 25% faster and with a 2% reduction in material cost. Once you have a new manufacturing hub picked out, it may be worthwhile to haul a small control tower and a few assembly arrays over there. Those with more ISK to invest might instead want to set up a large starbase packed full of assembly arrays, as each array adds a small ISK cost reduction that can stack up to a maximum of around 25% depending on which array you're using.

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Making a quick buck

The quickest but riskiest way to make ISK during an update like this is always to speculate on the market trends that will result from the patch. In this case, I think it's a reasonably safe bet that material prices will drop or item and ship prices will rise slightly across the board to account for the increased cost of manufacturing -- the smart money in both cases is to sell your mineral stockpile and buy up large ships. Since manufacturing cost is currently tied to build time and CCP's estimates put the cost of manufacturing in Crius at about 4-5% of the item's material cost, you'll want to build or buy high-value items with low build times.

If you're feeling particularly dastardly and your corporation has enough muscle to defend a starbase, it might be profitable to anchor starbases at all the moons in a system you think may become a manufacturing hub, and then try to sell the moons at a premium. Pick systems near trade hubs that are 0.8 security rating or above, as the game currently doesn't allow starbases in those systems but will after Crius lands. Just buy up control towers and starbase weapons in preparation for the patch, and then join the land grab when the server comes up.

Perhaps the most evil way to make money from this expansion would be to set up a suicide gank squad and target people moving their blueprints from one manufacturing base to another. One of the Crius devblogs revealed that Saisio is the heaviest manufacturing system in EVE and Nomaa is heaviest for Invention, but you can pinpoint targets like this yourself by flying from region to region and checking which systems have the fewest empty slots and longest queue times. Camp near those systems and you're bound to get some valuable hauler traffic on the weeks following the patch.

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Ever since the Castor expansion in 2003, players have sought to make their fortunes by predicting which way the wheel will turn ahead of each expansion. Many expansions have also prompted gold rushes and land grabs, such as when wormholes opened in 2009's Apocrypha expansion or when extra moon minerals were seeded across the galaxy in Odyssey. There are always ways to profit from change, and the upcoming industrial revamp in Crius at the end of the month is no exception.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to