Minerals might not be the only thing to worry about.

“He who controls the spice, controls the universe!”  – Baron Vladimir Harkonnen

At the start of the year, I fired up my Helios production line again. There isn’t much of a margin in it, but after losing Space Ghost in a wormhole, I needed a new covert ops frigate. It was as good an excuse as any. As I pointed out in my last post, I like the idea that my ships contribute to who knows what mayhem.

I recently completed four Helios blue prints via invention, Since I needed to make a Jita run anyway (and before April 28,) I decided to bring back the needed modules – at least the ones that were cheaper at Jita – and start the runs with on hand minerals. All but three components were cheaper at Jita. Of those three, two were cheaper in Oursulaert, which was on my way home. That is when I first started to really pay attention to what had happened to the market for the final component I needed.

After stopping at Oursulaert III, I still needed a quantity of Photon Microprocessors. There were none in the entire region. There had been some in Jita, but their price was four to five times “normal.” That should have been my first clue. I eventually sourced them in Verge Vendor – at a lower price than Jita but still at a considerable price increase over just a couple months ago. But it was late and I had to get the manufacturing runs set up so I headed for the factory and resolved to look into it later.

Yesterday was later. I jumped in my shuttle, the John B., and made a round of the neighboring regions. In all, I visited Essence, Genesis, Sing Liaison, Verge Vendor, The Citadel, The Forge and Everyshore. Though my journey didn’t cover all of Empire space, I think it’s fair to say I got to the heart of the matter. What I discovered was very interesting and somewhat alarming. The next section shows the Photon Microprocessor markets in each region as of approximately 0300 hours yesterday.

First of all, notice that all the regions show severely depleted supplies (I say this from past experience buying this component.) There are no sellers in at least two regions. What is available in the others is at much lower quantity than historically available and at considerably more cost. On each historical graph, large purchases of Photon Microprocessors began last weekend, and in The Forge and Everyshore have continued. Because of these purchases supply of this component is extremely low. Prices of the remaining components of the market are growing exponentially. This has to be market manipulations 101 on a vast scale.

It certainly is not speculation related to the looming mineral changes, which was my first thought. The three components required to manufacture Photon Microprocessors (Crystalline Carbonide, Phenolic Composites, and Nanotransistors) are all derived from moon materials. Now there’s a happy coincidence. I looked at the 3-month history for each component in all seven regions but could find no conclusive indication of manipulation. That does not mean there isn’t. I just can’t say there positively is a correlation. Still, is it such a hard thing to believe that a large enough alliance, with control over vast quantities of rare materials and a track record of massive market manipulation, might not want to exercise their free-trade muscles, or lack thereof?

But this is a Gallente ship building component. As much as I am proud to be Gallente, I cannot say our Tech II ships are the most desired in New Eden. So why would anyone make such large and costly purchases of such a component? Something else must be the motivating factor.

It’s not easily obtained from standard databases, but it is possible to find out everything a particular component, even one made from moon goo, goes into. At the bottom of that list I discovered two interesting possibilities.

Ask these two questions:

  1. With Hulkageddon running through all of May, how many Strip Miners will need replaced?
  2. What would happen in New Eden if suddenly there were no cloaking devices available?
I imagine the profit margins if #1 happened would be gigantic. What would miners pay to get in on the new asteroid rush? That’s a good question. An even better question is how good are the lulz if you know that the carebears you blow up are paying for the bounties on their own ships? We’ll need to pay attention to the Strip Miner market throughout April to get a good read on this one.
As for question #2, that’s an extremely scary scenario. How much do we rely on covert ops? Scouts out would have an entirely new meaning in such a universe.
Fly careful.

6 comments on “Minerals might not be the only thing to worry about.

  1. Also, a Hulk uses 2600 Photon Microprocessors. Buying them up pre-hulkageddon was good planning on someone's part. I'd guess Goons; they've been uncharacteristically market-savvy lately and the ability to manipulate the demand-side of the market by blowing stuff up in high-sec only helps.

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