This is a collection of short in-character fiction pieces about Awakened Industries, a group of capsuleers and their crews living in the enigmatic and dangerous regions of Wormhole Space in EVE Online. None of the protagonists are actual characters or corporations in-game. All similarities with persons fictional or real are possibly coincidental and only sometimes intentional. - Emergent Patroller

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2 Oct 2013

OOC Entry 100 - Bloc Level Economic Warfare in Highsec

The story so far

Recently we saw a great analysis of the Caldari Ice Interdiction. Before that there had been a Gallente Ice Interdiction. Both had somewhat different goals but one common aspect: The goals of both operations were based on a doctrine of economic warfare that targets goods produced in highsec with the intention to gain an advantage over opposing forces. This is achieved by both market manipulation for financial gain and market manipulation for the purpose of creating scarcity in resources that are necessary for the logistics of warfare.

As stated, the Caldari Ice Interdiction leaned much more towards the side of financial gain. It did have the potential, though, to influence the price of T2 goods which in turn would make ship replacements more expensive. In the light of the Fountain War where the continued financial pressure on Test Alliance SRP was a major factor, this operation could have resulted in an even more accelerated depletion of the TEST SRP funds.

The Gallente Ice Interdiction - on the other hand - leaned more toward the logistics disruption side of things. Apart from all financial gains, an increase in price for Gallente ice products would also drive up the cost of jump fuel for Gallente (super)capital ships. Since the Nyx, the Thanatos and the Moros are very commonly used in offensive capital-ship fleets, this had the potential to put the opponents of the CFC at a disadvantage when it came to capship supremacy.

The Future?

Rubicon will introduce Player Owned Customs Offices (POCOs) in high security space. This could present a new point of leverage for economic warfare strategies, market manipulation and a new stream of passive income.

Passive Income

Planetary Interaction (PI) has become a very widely used method for passive income generation. For those living in high security space, a high blanket tax rate has been a reality for some time now.  A POCO operator can easily go below that and still make a profit over time, and both parties will be better off.

Alliances who can place (and protect) POCOs in highsec at a large scale will have the possibility to open another passive income stream for themselves.

Of course, goods can still be freely exported from a planet while bypassing the POCO, but they can not be imported. Since especially the more lucrative PI products require materials from at least two different planets and then often yet another planet purely for manufacturing, there is still enough potential for tax revenue.

Market Manipulation and Economic Warfare

The possibility to tax "highsec carebears" and then build ships from that money which are used for ganking the same players will put a gleefully evil grin on many faces for sure. But that is nothing when compared with the possibilities for strategic market manipulation through POCOs.

The wide range of goods that are produced by means of PI is a useful tool in the hands those who want to reap speculation profit and create scarcity both.

PI materials are components for POS fuel, T2 production, starbase structures, sovereignty structures, nanite repair paste and station components. When you consider the uses for those end-products, it is obvious that a "PI Interdiction" can have severe wide ranging consequences when planned properly and executed at the right time.

Interbus NPC owned COs can be shot at freely. Under a declaration of war POCOs can be destroyed without CONCORD intervention. Even a medium-sized fleet can then destroy one quite quickly. A sufficiently large alliance can sweep through whole constellations in a matter of a few days and completely disrupt the flow of PI products from there.

Tying it all together

Even more powerful is the combination of both approaches.

If an Alliance manages to control a significant number of POCOs, they can directly affect the supply and price of goods through the POCO tax rate while at the same time destroying those of others.

Many producers will elect to halt their production or increase the price accordingly. The holders of a large number of POCOs will see both increased profit and create higher expenses for their opponents this way.

If one controls the POCOs in a system or even a constellation, it is an easy thing to place traders nearby who will stockpile materials one plans to make more expensive and/or scarce. Those traders can even make sure that they can buy at a lower price ahead of time by keeping taxes low.

There is certainly a lot of potential for market PVP there.

In conclusion

Many nullsec alliances have the numbers and the level of organisation to play this game against eachother on a battlefield which has been mostly neglected by them so far.

The Ice Interdictions by the CFC were special events in the past which were planned to have an indirect impact on nullsec conflicts. Now the possibilities of economic warfare created by highsec POCOs could make such operations a more common thing.

In fact, a nullsec alliance or powerbloc engaging in a large-scale conflict against another one over sovereignty would be well advised to make use of those possibilities, otherwise they will find that staging POSes, T2 modules and ammunition, nanite paste etc. become prohibitively expensive while their enemy has a logistical and financial advantage that will be hard to overcome.

Interesting times ahead.


  1. yes, I agree, these are the consequences of making the POCOs invulnerable unless under wardec. The Goons, RvB and other simply need to take them down, replace them with their own. No small or medium corp can do anything about it. Why CCP implements a mechanic that is specifically designed to help the powerblocs and disenfranchises the smaller corps is beyond me.

    The more important thing is the selection of planets. A large coalition does not need to own "all" custom offices for all planets regionally. Market manipulation on geographic level will likely fail, transport across New Eden is easy and regional changes are swiftly equalized (thanks Red Frog!). No, if the goons were smart (and they sometimes can be), they'd take down Plasma and Lava planets only - but across all of high sec (and as much low sec as they can). There are not that many but without those you can not make Chiral Structures and with that Robotics and with that POS fuel. Then set the tax rate so low that the HS carebears just forget about them. During interdictions, all the Goons then have to do is to turn off these POCOs and jack the fuel price for _all_ POSes sky high. Far, far more effective than ice interdictions.

    What would be the consequence? WH PI becomes highly profitable and T2 / Invention etc (things done in HS POSes) much more expensive.

  2. Honestly, I don't think CCP makes decisions "specifically designed to help the powerblocs and disenfranch[ing] the smaller corps"

    I have the feeling they just come up with those ideas and do not quite think it through how that would scale if you get a super organized group of thousands of people behind it.

    Albeit the reality of nullsec EVE these days, who would have thought that it's even possible to get that amount of gamers following the same agenda?