Thursday, December 22, 2011

Capital manufacturing status update #1562546

Oh god the world is burning edition.

Well, the markets anyway. Trit and pyerite are up a bit, but mexallon is really interesting, and it's affecting me, which I consider a personal affront. Mex price is up two thirds since the patch, and now when buying minerals it's the largest component of a ship's mineral price.

To illustrate, here are the current mineral prices for my last buy order (in millions):

Tritanium: 1058
Pyerite: 360
Mexallon: 1337 (yes, really)
Isogen: 275
Nocxium: 605
Zydrine: 165
Megacyte: 285

Before the patch, the mexallon would have cost 785.

What's causing the mex price to increase? Well, it first spiked right after the patch, which isn't surprising. What's odd is that it has kept going up despite returning to fairly average sales volume. That says speculation to me, though with a war supposedly starting in the drone lands we may start to see an actual supply interruption.

As to the effect of this, the short version is that ships which had low margins before now have zero or even negative margins. The after tax profit on an obelisk right now is negative ten million isk -- at least on paper.

What's really happening is that capital ship prices lag mineral prices by about ten days. Thus, if prices continue to increase, by the time a freighter built with minerals purchased today is delivered and put on the market, freighter prices will have have risen to a point where there is an acceptable profit margin. You can check freighter prices on the market right now and see this happening: Charon prices went vertical 10 days after mexallon did, and as of today they're up by 70 million isk per unit. I just sold one built with minerals purchased before the mexallon spike for a profit of 138 million (before tax).

Trouble is, though, when prices go up, they often come back down eventually; and in the absence of increased demand or changes to the game mechanics, I have to suspect that's what will happen with mexallon. When it does, people who bought mex when it was high really will wind up selling ships for negative profit, which makes me nervous about buying minerals to build freighters right now.

At the same time this is happening, margins on freighters have been pretty miserable for a number of months, and I've been considering tearing up my freighter production line and switching to only jump-capable ships. The margins on them are just better; even with the mineral price increase, and with more components being added to them when the patch hit, carriers are still showing a profit on paper, and they usually have the smallest margins of the jump capable capitals. Plus, I could use the extra production slots from my freighter builder anyway.

So that's what I'm doing. I have three freighters finishing, which should fetch nice margins because their minerals were purchased before the patch, then I'm halting production. The blueprints will go into research until I need them, probably after the fuel block changeover, at which time I anticipate selling them in order to buy component blueprints to research and replace my current set with.

The liquidity freed up by dropping freighter production will buy two component blueprints, capital computer system and capital siege array, which I am experiencing bottlenecks in at the moment. These are the last two components which are used in significantly higher quantity than any others, and once I have them it would take another seven (arguably nine) component blueprints to increase production measurably, at which point I would have nearly two full sets.

In fact, with those two I will have arrived organically at a selection of component blueprints which I had earlier used a spreadsheet to observe might be useful -- a balanced selection of 21 blueprints which will allow me to build two rorquals and one of each carrier and dreadnaught every 16 days. Adding another 9 blueprints reduces this time to 11 days, but also means training another production character.

So anyway, that's how my day has been.

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