Originally published in the October 2013 issue of The Industrialist
A recent thread on the EVE Gate forums about solo-mining got me thinking. Can you run a one-man industrial corp?
I never really put too much thought into it. I have a few members of my corp who use the labs and make their own items. There really isn't a need to support a large infrastructure as we are very small, located in high sec, and don't really need to supply the corp with ships, modules, and ammo. If we ever moved to low or null sec, that would obviously change. After our recent marathon of war declarations (decs), our numbers have dwindled. We have also just finished a great purge. I am probably utilizing the player-owned station (POS) labs & manufacturing slots the most. It is only natural to explore and gain knowledge. That's what got me thinking. Now, I don't plan on doing this, but I would like to explore the facts for my own edification.
Is it possible? I guess that depends on how deep you are willing to dive in. Do you set up a POS? I would think yes. You will need to research blueprints in order to manufacture efficiently, and if you plan to invent tier 2 (T2) blueprints, you will need the labs to make copies. I think if you want to get fully involved in industry, you have to set up a POS with labs or find some kind of arrangement with a POS-owning corporation. You will probably not be able to find any lab space in NPC stations in high sec (0.5+ security space). If you want to gamble a little bit, you MIGHT be able to find some open slots in low sec (0.1-0.4 security space). You have to consider the danger of getting ganked or gate-camped and losing not only your ship, but also any blueprints you may have in your cargo. If they are researched, you are talking a lot of wasted time & those blueprint originals (BPOs) can get expensive.
You can mitigate the danger by trainings skills that allow you to remotely modify your research from the safety of high sec, but is it worth it? I guess it depends on how serious you are about researching BPOs.
Things to consider: Empire standings. Your corp has to have an unmodified standing with the faction empire where you want to set up a POS equal to the security status of the system. So, if you want to set up a POS in a Gallente-owned system that has a security status of 0.5, your unmodified corporate standing with the Gallente Federation must be 5.0+. There are no exceptions. If you have alts in your corp that will bring your corp average down below the required level, you will need to remove those members, wait for the standing to adjust (I believe one downtime), and then you can set the POS spike. We have booted members multiple times to set up POS's. It is a real pain the ass.
You will also have to consider onlining your defense during war decs in high sec and also static defenses in low/null (0.0)/wormhole (wh) space that always stay on. Figure sitting in a POS onlining defensive modules that take 2 minutes per module. You will be there for a while. Can one toon support a POS? Probably not without other forms of income.
Do you mine? To be honest, if you can do T2 module production, you will have enough profit margin to spend a little extra on mineral buy orders. Solo mining (even if you have a bunch of alts) won't make you rich. It is as boring as it is unrewarding. If you are playing other games, I guess you could semi-afk mine. You would be open to gankers and bumpers though. Also, if you are mining ice, you no longer have nearly infinite ice belts, either. So you will have to reset more often.
Can you make enough manufactured goods with one toon to support your POS? Again, I don't think one toon can do it. I have 4 alts that can manufacture and research and two of those can invent and manufacture T2 up to battleship. I find that the two alts that can do T2 construction could probably make enough products to support a POS. If you are able to manufacture your own POS fuel blocks, you are doing pretty well.
That is were the cost comes in. Paying for fuel is unproductive and you don't get immediate returns on it. If you are buying minerals to make T2 modules, when you sell those modules, you are covering the cost to manufacture them. Not so with fuel blocks. They are a cost of doing business, like payroll, office rental, utilities and so on. That comes right off the top of your profits. If you are renting slots and don't need a POS, you have a lot more restrictions, but a lot less in the way of hassles.
So I guess if you have the alts and the time you could be a one man industrial corp. It wont be easy and you are open to a lot of other things in EVE that are dangerous or intrusive on your peaceful endevour, but it is possible.