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The Good Stuff?

April 18, 2014

For the professional pvper drugs, (combat boosters) are not just an addiction, they are a way of life. Exile, Blue Pill, X-Instinct nestles in cargo beside ammo and nanite paste as stock standard supplies. Though, for the majority in EVE, it’s an area that is mysterious and unexplored. Why?

For 3 – 20 million a pop, does it make financial sense for perhaps a 5min pvp thrill? One pop of Improved Exile could cost you as much as the ship you are flying. Worth it?

The benefits are certainly clear:

Players have varying opinions.

Player 1: Well I can’t really give an opinion on anything but the synth ones, which are probably not really worth it because only 3%, but you never know

Player 2 : f* useful, esp if you don’t have a booster alt.

Player 3: I used to use boosters here and there before engagements, but then decided they were too expensive

Player 4: Absolute must have. Can change a losing fight to a winning one

A healthy drug habit is also skill intensive and costly to get set up. Biology, Neurotoxin Control and Neurotoxin Recovery to Level 5 is a 48 day train, with the Neurotoxin Control skill book costing 160 mill in Jita. Try and take combat boosters without the skills, and the side effects can quickly turn benefit into disadvantage.

The side-effects themselves can be devastating. There have been talk in the past to change how the mechanic works (reffrence), but to date it has been all talk and no action. While the positive effect of the booster is guaranteed to happen these is always a chance for each of the side effects to happen. Using the stronger boosters also increases the severity of the side effects and the chance that it will happen.

Buying boosters is also more difficult than simply shopping in Jita. For one, buy in high (other than synth) and customs fine you if they find you, and if you don’t hand the goods over they will extract it from your wreck. Lowsec pockets will have a smattering of sales but at high prices. Nullsec, even sparser and often more expensive. Most of the time it’s who you know and where to go.

Why so expensive and why so difficult to buy? Speaking to Zam Zumah and Bucefalus Black from Es and Whizz (Hedonistic Imperative). These guys have been dealing in combat boosters since 2005 and run the popular Narcotics channel for deals all over New Eden.

Drug manufacturers have to move from one null gas region to another, depending on the booster type demand on market. Often these areas are hostile and unforgiving to a corporation of gas miners and haulers.

Bucefalus Black recalls a time in Feythabolis: “We had a small tower in K-X5AX, and we were harvesting Vermilion. Thing is, the systems where we were getting the gas from was for rent and Cobahle guys were guarding it at that time. We almost finished the ops, we had enough gas harvested and we were ready to take the pos down when they reinforced it. We thought we should give them a nice fight, with a small fleet and all…just for fun… So in the final day of reinforcement we were trolling in local with one of the guys from Cobahle, Necta nebus, smacktalking and all….only to realise he’s a fellow countryman of mine – romanian that is. So one thing lead to another and we end up keeping our pos from being destroyed with the promise we take it down the next day, and they also ordered 1.5 bil worth of drugs from us. Delivery was made in their home system DB1R-4, in a safe spot, i just jetted the drugs in space and hoped they will pay for it. Which they did :)”

POS mechanics are also a nightmare, speak to anyone who has to operated out of a POS before and you are sure to get a heated discussion. Improvements to the production management and access control are of main concern. Access to one part of the production line currently means access to all. Theft becomes all too real, or the few who can be trusted with POS rights burn out.

Contracts are also limiting, Zam Zumah, from Es and Whizz, comments: “Currently members buy their drugs from the corp via contracts at a reduced rate to resell to their customer. In the current mechanics, directors have to remotely split the drug stacks, and move them into their personal hangar to complete the contract. If the contracts could be filled directly from the stack in the corp hangar, it would take a lot less micromanagement and would also let us more easily explore ways to allow members with less security clearance to cut drugs and fill contract orders”. Not only that, when you want to sell drugs, you can’t sell them via a standard contract. But, ironically, you can get the player to post a ‘want to buy’ or simply list drugs on the market.

Surprisingly not one CSM candidate talked to Es and Whizz this year. Hidden? Forgotten? Combat boosters have been around since Revelations (2006), yet they still remain essentially unchanged. Why not some new flavours? Bring in some fixes to make production easier. Reduce or change the side effects? For one, I would love to see drug cartels going at it head to head in null defending their drug farming territory. But for that to happen, the demand for boosters needs to go up. Exile anyone?