Sunday, October 23, 2011

Interstellar Spreadsheet Overdrive!

The barkeep placed my order in front of me, and taking it, I stood to look for a decent place to sit.

There was no denying: I had been somewhat grumpy ever since our WH operation got crippled a few days ago, more than actually warranted by the loss. But I knew a recipe against this mood: find a place with other capsuleers, and just kick back with a drink for a while.

A soft drink, that is. History had shown that inebriation does nothing to ungrumpy a Druur, just to cause her to undock in too-shiny ships.

Finding a nice spot next with a good view over the room, I relaxed and let the sights and sounds wash over me.

Suddenly, the conversation at the table next over caught my ear.

“Wait, say that again: you think that POS refineries are useful?” A young’ish voice.

“That’s what I said.” Old, grizzled. “If you look carefully enough.”

“But why? Even the Intensive array only gives you 75% yield. Why waste 25% by refining at the POS?”

“In a word: Opportunity Cost. Imagine you’re in a wormhole with only sporadic safe connections. Now imagine you don’t get a good connection for a long while, the corp hangars fill up, and you have to go let Grav sites to waste. Depending on the circumstances, these sites you can’t mine can be worth more than the 25% the refinery loses.”

“Hmm, I can see that.” Young voice wasn’t quite convinced yet, though. “But if you have a good connection, or enough hangars, then this wouldn’t be an issue.”

“Well..., now you also have look at the time you spend. Let’s say you have enough raw ore that it takes you 8-12 hours to move out of the WH - refined down to minerals, it would take you only an hour. That’s 7 to 11 hours you could have used for mining more, shooting some sleepers - or cuddling with your sweetie.”

“Hey, leave me out of this!” New voice, young, amused.

“But then tell me this: if refining arrays are so good, why isn’t everyone using them?”

“Because of fuel cost.” I could almost see Old Voice smiling. “Running an Intensive refinery costs you 0.2 ISK/m3 of ore, a Medium refinery 0.4 ISK/m3 of ore. That is if you have a suitable tower running anyway. If you set up a tower just for the refinery, the costs would be...” I heard tapping on a padd “... 12.8 ISK/m3 for the Intensive, and 28.1 ISK/m3 for the Medium. And that is before defenses.”

“Riiight...” You could hear the Young Voice’s gears turning. “So depending on the setup I’d have to make sure that my ore is worth more than the fuel. On average, and taking yield into account.”


“Ok, I’ll bite.” This was Sweetheart. “How about using a Rorqual to compress the ore?”

Old Voice was unperturbed. “Good question. But keep in mind that a Rorq is a 1 Billion investment: you will have to mine a lot just to pay off that investment. Especially if you’re in a lower-class WH which the Rorq can’t leave. But true - if you know you have the time and/or people, a Rorq could be the better choice. Don’t ask me for numbers on that one, though!”

“You’re no fun!” mocked Sweetheart. “But what then about normal refining arrays - those with 35% yield. Those you will agree are useless.”

“Trying to make my evening difficult, eh?”


“I should have known.... Right, then. One primary application: Ninja mining. You only need a small tower to run a normal refinery. Actually, you can put two on them, but let’s keep it simple. Just a couple of transports, or an Orca, can transport the tower, refinery, and fuel. Run it of for a few hours or a day, then take it down again. And if it gets popped - heck, it’s cheap.”

“You said ‘in theory’...” Sweetheart. “Let me guess - fuel cost vs. ore price?”

“Right. At the moment...”, more tapping, “... a Ninja refinery would cost 5.2 ISK/m3, so your ore better be worth 16 ISK/m3 or more. Which at the moment applies to all of them - but that changes with the fuel prices, and with how many Ninja POSes you lose. And with how correctly I typed in those numbers. But you get the idea.”

“Fun!” Young Voice, sarcastically. “How do you know when to use which setup, if at all?, wait, I’m going to regret asking this, am I?”

“Spreadsheets, son!” Old Voice was chuckling. “Lots and lots of spreadsheets!”

“God, I hate those. Takes all the fun out of things. - Death To Spreadsheets!”

And I started quietly laughing into my drink.

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