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Siphon

New Information Has Arrived Today (18 Oct 2013), please look in the comments.

Today we finally get a dev blog regarding one of the new deployable modules that CCP is proposing in Rubicon.  Here is the rundown of what it can do:

  • Rubicon will have one Mobile Siphon Unit. This will be a small version (20 m³), so carrying one, or even several, is not much of a constraint for most ships.
  • The unit will have a BPO available in NPC stations. There is no tech II variant. Prices and material components are still being worked on, but should be in a ballpark of 10 million.
  • Siphon units are deployed the same as other personal deployables, where you just need to deploy, there is no anchoring or onlining. Once deployed, a siphon unit cannot be scooped up again. The name of the player that deployed the siphon unit is visible in Show Info.
  • Siphon units must be deployed close to a POS, outside of shields to a maximum distance of 50 kilometers from the control tower.
  • Siphon units can be attacked and accessed with impunity, there are no criminal or suspect flags involved.
  • Siphon units are not automatically attacked by POS guns. Players can take manual control of POS guns to shoot at a siphon unit.
  • Siphon units have an EHP around 50-100k (exact numbers to be decided).
  • The Small Mobile Siphon Unit in Rubicon can steal raw material (from Moon Harvester Arrays) and processed material (from Simple Reactor Arrays). It will prioritize raw material over processed material if both are available. It cannot steal alchemy output.
  • The stealing happens on the production cycles (once per hour). What is stolen comes from the production, thus items in storage are never stolen directly.
  • A siphon unit can only steal from the end of a chain. For example, if a POS has a two Moon Harvester Arrays that are both connected (through a Coupling Array/Silo) to an active Simple Reactor Array, then only the output from the Simple Reactor Array can be stolen. A siphon unit steals from a single chain each production cycle, so it cannot for instance steal both raw material and processed material at the same time.
  • The Small Mobile Siphon Unit can steal 60 units of raw material or 25 units of processed material.
  • It has a capacity of 1200 m³. If it is full, it stops stealing. Anybody can access the storage and take from it. It is not possible to put items into the storage. When you select a siphon unit, a bar shows you how full the unit is.
  • More than one siphon unit can be deployed around the same POS. They steal in the order they were deployed.
  • Siphon units also have a waste factor (assumed to be lost in transit). This wastes (destroys) a portion of what is stolen. The waste factor for the Small Mobile Siphon Unit is 20%.
  • They are scanable by D-Scan and by Probes.
  • Give false API information to the POS owner.

Wow!  Awesome right!  Now the little guy can stick it to the big guy.. including the biggest guy GOONSWARM, RIGHT!  Right?

Not so fast.  There is a few problems.  First, let’s go with the rate of siphoning as compared to how much you pay for the unit.

  • Current price of small Siphon Unit: $10,000,000 isk.
  • Rate of Siphon: Roughly 60 units per hour or 23 hours to fill 1200m3.
  • Price of Dysprosium: 50,000 isk per unit.
  • Total Haul for full 24 hour Siphon: $60,000,000 isk.
  • Total Grand Profit of $50 million isk.

Ooo.. free 60mil isk right?  And you can deposit it anywhere you want right?  Well, let’s think about this a little more clearly.  Let’s think of the other points we have to consider:

  • While it looks easy on paper, let’s look at what will probably happen.  The big alliances are going to know this is coming out and are going to step up their patrols.  Since it takes a long time for a siphon to work and there is no lock on the door, they can remove the loot and destroy at their leisure.
  • This leaves only two profitable targets:  Small and Solo Corp Industrialists and Well insulated Null-sec Alliances.  Both of which are more prone to ignorance, laziness, and human cycles of sleep.  Considering how easy it is to install the Siphon, how many can be applied, and how relatively difficult they are to remove, you are going to see Small and Solo Corp industrials be driven out of Moon Goo operations.  So that is a limited source of profit there, which will disappear in about six months time.  On the flip-side the profitable and softer targets in deep null-sec are difficult and time consuming to get to.  Likely the only ship you will use will be the Blockade Runner, which limits you to about 5000m3 with a single cargo expander.
  • Now, even if you assume that all the richest R64 Moons are together, the most siphons you will drop is five because you are absolutely limited by the cargo space of your Blockade Runner.
  • Grand profit after looting each day: 250,000,000 isk, minus the 50,000,000 isk for the Siphons.  Not really all that great if you travel back and forth a few hours each trip.  And only if no one steals from it or destroys it.  All the while you are likely going to risk at least a Blockade Runner each trip, every 24 hours, back and forth.

So, really not a super profitable enterprise, and one with a surprising amount of risk.  Because of this, you probably aren’t going to see too many folks really make it a venture.  I see where it might be possible, with some significant support.. but even that will attract some attention and cause problems.  But, nonetheless there is an option for some enterprising individuals to stick it “to the man.”

Siphon In Use

Siphon In Use

The More Important Problem

However, the second problem with the current Siphon setup is very, very huge.  It is so huge that a CSM member and multiple Goonswarm members have pointed out, in VERY specific terms, what Goonswarm would do if the Siphon Unit was released as is.  The problem is based on two points mentioned above:

  • More than one siphon unit can be deployed around the same POS. They steal in the order they were deployed.
  • Siphon units also have a waste factor (assumed to be lost in transit). This wastes (destroys) a portion of what is stolen. The waste factor for the Small Mobile Siphon Unit is 20%.

Now, while most coalitions may not have the manpower, leadership, and organization to exploit these two points, Goonswarm absolutely does.  You see, since they cost only 10mil isk a piece they are easy for Goonswarm to produce and distribute “en masse”.  For Goonswarm to effectively use it to manipulate prices (which they will), all they need to do is drop multiple siphons on critical POS moon operations.

The 20% loss off of each siphon alone, at such a scale, would certainly affect the price of moon goo.  The problem many people have is the belief that Goonswarm would have to sell the moon goo.  This is not true at all.  All they need to do is restrict it, which a massive and organized distribution of Siphons would create.  Goonswarm doesn’t even have to keep the moon goo at all.  They could destroy it or even just give it to their minions for later sale when prices go up.  They proved their ability to do this with the Gallente Ice Interdiction and the Burn Jita operation.  Such an operation would bring untold trillions into Goonswarm coffers.

Consider too, what the mass deployment of the Siphon unit against a specific alliance could do?  In a war between two small or medium size alliances, the effect would be minimal.  But suppose you gave that power to a massive and well organized coalition?  Opposing alliances would fall within days against a foe like Goonswarm with unregulated Siphons destroying a major portion of their alliance’s income, while at the same time able to jack up the prices for their own allies for enhanced sales.  Even Goonswarm members think this is TOO powerful.

And as much as I dislike what Goonswarm is, I cannot disagree with them in this.  As much as I would LOVE to see Goonswarm and other major coalitions squirm at the thought of thousands of freelancers taking away their moon goo.. this Siphon Unit simply will not be used in the way CCP had intended.

Conclusion

The current Siphon is far, far too powerful in the hands of an organized force like Goonswarm, who can command thousands of pilots to disperse these siphons like chaff and can easily afford to do so.  Nevertheless, I think it is a great idea and would love to see this module in use, but limited to just one per POS.  This would make it a tool for small organization, while not making it so devastatingly powerful as to crush all who are not rich enough to stop it.  Hopefully CCP will make this change.

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