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The date is set, the calendar is marked, and CCP is almost ready to roll out the Lifeblood update on the 24th of this month. While we all know what’s coming in that specially wrapped package of pre-holiday joy there’s a lot of uncertainty on how this new round of updates will set the stage for the future of EVE Online and our beloved New Eden. As with all things EVE related, war will once again change with Lifeblood’s release.

In just a few days with the new “Lifeblood” release will change moon harvesting forever. The passive, top down, and lucrative moon harvesting by POSs (Player Owned Starbase) is being replaced by a more active, bottom up, and team oriented system that completely rewrites the book. The new system will introduce the newest Upwell structures, termed “refineries,” which will have the ability to carve out chunks of rock from the surface of the moon and turn them into profitable and sometimes extremely profitable mineable asteroid belts you can tear apart for ore and moon goo. This eliminates the passive moon harvesting in POSs around EVE and while these updates won’t necessarily halt production or really even slow it, what it will do is change the dynamics of the very roots of all the pew pew we know and love:

Industry.

Love it or hate it, everyone flying around New Eden benefits from the fruits of industry. All things in EVE from ammunition to Titans are built by those who have more of a mind for spreadsheets and mining logs than how to properly tear apart a ship with autocannons and lasers. Its also no real secret that the trick to big bucks in many cases as an Industrialist is Tech II production on a broad scale; a scale that requires variable amounts of a variety of moon goo.

This production, in turn, is benefited by those seeking T2 ships, modules, and ammunition primarily in the form of fleet doctrines flown the galaxy over by various alliances, coalitions, and mercenary groups. These PvPers rely on the best modules and toughest ships they can get a hold of which means most, if not all, the modules on their ships have that shiny gold II in the top corner. T2 production fetches higher profit margins because those who wish to hold their own on the battlefield rely on the superior modules and ships that production confers.

The changes to moon mining are huge, not just in function or form, but also in impact on the larger scale. The new ores come with increased profit and the multiple types of primary and secondary ores means, while moon goo will continue to flow, it will bring a few new problems that miners will need to overcome.

Firstly, a swap from passive harvesting means an investment in material, ships, and capsuleers to properly mine the new belts formed from moon rock extraction. A simple statement to make, but the long and short is that moon goo is going to cost more ISK than with the previous method. Miners generally don’t work for free. Like anyone else, they like getting paid for what they do which means they’ll expect to be compensated in some form or another for dropping a personally profitable activity to go shoot moon rocks they won’t get to keep. Whether paid hourly at a flat rate, paid for the ore they ripped out of the asteroids, or compensated in some other manner, the cost will generally exceed expectations – at least at first with the beginning of this update.

Secondly, under the current system, alliances rely on the mostly passive mining of moon minerals via a POS to fund their wallets. High end moons and the moon goo they produce in alliance held space are typically owned, mined, and provide income directly to the alliance holding corp. These operations are generally passive and usually require just a tower and a few pilots to pick up the mined material and either move it to ‘hi-sec’ for sale or keep it close for use in alliance production lines. The ISK generated generally funds SRP, infrastructure, subsidy programs, and war chests. For years this mostly passive system has been the bedrock of how alliances made their money and could be managed with a relatively small amount of people for the amount of ISK generated. The removal of a passive way to generate large amounts ISK means that some alliances won’t be able to simply print money to fund their wars. Actively requiring a mining fleet to dig out the ore and moon goo means that pure PvP alliances who have no industry or poor industry will have to solidly invest in industry or fall to alternative means of funding themselves to keep active and remain as a contending force among the stars. The days of fighting wars over rare moons and the ISK they yield may not be over, but they definitely have become more convoluted.

This brings up another point that I’m sure the more bloodthirsty of us have already realized. Moon mining is now vulnerable. You don’t have to reinforce the POS and blow it up to shaft your enemy’s revenue. Even attacking the new refineries won’t be necessary except to take over the moon’s beacon when you’re ready. Simply gauge when the carving process is nearing completion, plan out the attack, and wait for the mining fleet to warp to the inevitable belt of moon rocks. It’s a hot dropper’s wet dream in one way and an industrialist’s nightmare in another. The ultimate bait mixed in with the ultimate temptation, especially if that golden “jackpot” pops up when the extraction is done.

So, what does this mean for the future of EVE? A solid guess is that wars will eventually be more careful in their tactics. PvP alliances with a reliance on moon goo as a primary revenue source will see hardships in the short term and also in the long term without adapting to the updates. Industry and, in turn, industrialists (dare I say Carebears?) become more important and more active in the larger scale of power shifts among the stars while at the same time becoming more vulnerable in the process. Combat pilots and PvP groups will see a greater reliance on industry in many ways. Fleet on fleet combat will likely stay as frequent as it is today, but with caveats to adjust for potential rising costs of T2 ships and modules. Tactics will obviously change with the added vulnerabilities inherent in the industry updates Lifeblood will bring us and undoubtedly moon-belts will become priority targets rather quickly, if not instantly, after the update.

Essentially, the updates will fundamentally change a great deal of the production and resource gathering functions in New Eden. Power will shift to some extent to the miners and builders of EVE and PvP will likely see changes in response to this in tactics and possibly doctrines. Ultimately, we’ll have to do what we’ve always done: wait and see. One thing is for certain, however.

Begun, the Moon Wars have.

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