Special thanks to the posters in this thread for their advice and experiences that lead me to this idea.
The purpose of my time in the game, beyond decompressing after a stressful day, will be to explore the potential of small-scale nomadic playstyle. I know most players who do this will have their own way of doing it, like using capitals to move a large volume of ships, deployables, and structures. While I admire the ballsiness of this approach, it is simply too far beyond my budget of time and money, so I’m opting for a much less ambitious path. Simply put, everything I own will be moved in Minmatar industrials. While the hull and loadout of my caravan will change with the purpose of the voyage (as well as learning through practice and loss), the principle will remain largely the same. I understand that my path will rest invariably within the trough of the sub-optimal; that is by design.
This is the goal.
So… let’s outline this design.
1.a Playstyle Goals
This is intended primarily as a solo playstyle, though there’s no need to do so absolutely. The core of the premise is self-sufficiency, which requires some modesty of expectations. The idea is to plan, travel, occupy, plan… rinse and repeat. The time frames will be somewhat brief in order to minimize interference with local residents and economies. I want to profit if possible, or at the very least break even, but not at the expense of the locals. I want to contribute to my hosts’ bottom line and keep things friendly. I want them to look forward to my next visit.
1.b Material Goals
Operating alone and far-removed from large markets will leave little room for error, destructive potential for any player encounters in space notwithstanding. Therefore, the expenditures will be small, to keep the inevitable losses small, thus allowing easier maintenance of a traveler’s momentum. Reduced risk, reduced reward. To that end, my lowsec activities will consist primarily of belt ratting in a cheap frigate, collecting bounties and loot, and selling off whatever I can when the cargo bay is full or the ammo runs out. I leave nothing behind.
The travel during the first spate of voyages will be done in the Wreathe, using a slight variation on the Eve University lowsec fitting. It will be set up primarily for speed and evasion, with some emergency tank. The cargo will consist of necessary consumables, modules, replacement rigs, and a Breacher hull to do the belt ratting. Once I determine that the time to move has arrived, the hull will be repackaged, consumables will be restocked to the fullest extent possible, and the Wreathe will be readied for transport to the next destination.
The Wreathe fitting is more or less self-explanatory, since it is meant to move from one port to another through what is assumed to be hostile space. It is designed by E-UNI to move quickly and outlast gatecamp fire long enough to slip out from disruption attempts. It’s not foolproof, it’s just playing the odds. The Breacher will use mostly cheap meta modules as much as my skills allow, along with faction ammunition. There will be no fitting for PvP modules, as these ships are not intended to score player kills. As my fitting ability improves, these fittings will be revisited.
At some point in the future, I would like to be able to fit a probe launcher to the Wreathe, scan down low-class wormholes to bookmark them, and take a smaller ship in to try my hand at gas harvesting and/or can hacking. To that end, due to the Wreathe having no bonus for exploration activities, implants will be helpful in increasing the likelihood that I’m able to scan these signatures down. Slots 6, 7, and 8 will likely all have to be plugged in with 2% or higher hardwiring. Luckily these are very cheap.
There will be a handful of considerations when traveling. First, since this will primarily be between highsec and lowsec, I will have to make use of the map data for statistics on the routes I have planned such as number of jumps, number of ship kills, number of pilots in space, etc. Also, map statistics can be used to plan useful destinations based on the availability of either dockable stations and/or player-owned markets (preferably). Timing will also be a factor, and due to my timezone, I should be able to commit to most travel during some of the lowest activity in the daily cycle. Combine this with moving during those weekdays with typically less activity, and I should be able to minimize risk in transit.
The strategy here will be to move from belt to belt, typically in systems with a high number of belts to choose from, and look for targets that my DPS can break. This will likely be BC-sized rats and smaller, excluding the clone recruiters who are much too tough for solo frigates. Generous pinging of the D-Scan button to keep an eye out for inbound hunters and pre-aligning to a “podsaver” object should help keep things going without a premature end. Not much to be done if the hunters are cloaked, however. Overall, the intent is to secure bounties as quickly as possible while picking up loot that has nearby orders, or that can be reprocessed for minerals that are on order instead.
This is the most crucial factor in the endeavor, since leaving nothing behind requires me to liquidate everything before restocking on consumables. Anticipating that much of the space we frequent will be without buy orders for random module drops, or instead offer much less that the mineral value, reprocessing is an acceptable means of liquidation, so long as any buy order is present. Failing that, putting up a contract for the locals to pick up at a later time, so long as some effort is made to cultivate a cordial relationship, is probably the best hope for scraping together that last little bit of ISK.
For reference, the fits mentioned in 2a-2b.
So, after a month of rookie training, saving, bumping up some faction standings, I went out for a three-week test run, which has just concluded. In case there are any rookies out there who want to try out New Eden vanlife, here are the things I learned or think could have been done differently.
Make use of the structure browser. It helps in searching for systems (either at a stop or on your route) where you can unload scrap and minerals. If you’re planning on selling them to the locals, you can see if the corporations with structures nearby have buy orders. If not, you might be able to negotiate a little spare change for your materials. If you can’t find a good system with locals who open their structure to trade, make sure there is at least a station you can dock in to conduct your business and fitting.
Don’t be afraid to chat up the locals, and don’t fret if they aren’t interested in dealing with you. I like to do little courtesies to make their lives easier. For instance, I always abandon my wrecks so that they can loot and salvage without going flashy. I don’t think it matters in lowsec anyway, but being flashy seems like an invitation. Maybe. So I try to make their time a little easier if I can.
When picking a system, a couple things will help; the more asteroid belts there are, the more time you can spend in space making bounty income, and the more searching a hunter has to do in order to chase you down; also, large systems (big AU diameter) give you more places to set up bookmarks where D-scan will rarely reach you. Remember, even if you get killed and lose everything, your bounty money is yours to keep.
Bear in mind that on your departure, the volume of the cargo bay of your industrial will be greater (based on your skillpoints) when you’re piloting than when it sits in the ships hangar. It helps to know this factor in your decision of when to move on.
If you’re planning a trip with multiple stops, you’re going to either need a ratting fit with no rigs, or pack extra rigs for use after each time you repackage your ratting hull. It’s up to you whether you want to concede efficiency in accumulating bounties for efficiency in ISK/m3. So far I haven’t found my sweet spot.
Rather than keeping liquid ISK, I made a secondary character at a trade hub who buys PLEX from the market. I’m not really sure about how the PLEX market is working (it seems to trend downward rn), but it’s one item that isn’t a physical commodity and might appreciate in ISK value over time. Or I could be a dumb-dumb.
My initial trip cost about 4M ISK to plan and execute. A good chunk of that was faction ammo, which is probably unnecessary. Over the three weeks I deployed I probably played no more than five hours. I left the system with a full cargo bay of loot estimated at 21M (sold for about 16M) and 8M in bounties. Trip easily paid for itself.
Balancing consumables against cargo space seems like it will take time to understand. I ended up with a little extra left over, even though I felt like I probably hadn’t packed enough initially. On the one hand, you shouldn’t pack anything you don’t need, but on the other, you can’t know how good the loot drops will be.
I definitely didn’t need all those cap boosters. Fighting any rat except for a clone recruiter, I only needed to run the shield booster for two cycles the entire trip. They simply couldn’t hit the Breacher hard enough. I could probably ditch them altogether and run a small booster instead of the MASB, lose the CPU module for another Ballistic Control, and rat a little faster.
I left behind a lot of wrecks. As an alternative to the probe launcher, it’s probably worth it to bring 2 salvagers for the Wreathe (or you could refit the ratting ship), especially if you end up killing pirate haulers and have a 1000m3+ of trit on your hands. Plus, I hear salvage can be pretty good in terms of value-to-volume. Will definitely try this.
Anyway, if any of you starbabies out there try the minimalist nomad thing, let me know how it goes for you. Here’s to forever rolling in chump change.