As I mine, I like to peruse the eve forums, and frequently come across questions or topics I would like to see covered in a manner that doesn't tend to draw trolls or get stuffed with people who claim they are experts but offer up no solid basis for their opinions.
Therefore, I'm going to do a weekly wormhole related topic and cover it to the best of my ability. Of course, everything is from my point of view and from my experiences only. I can only claim to know what I have been through, and my proof is therefore most likely contained in the pages of this blog, so should be easily referenced.
So, since the topic has arisen on the eve forums and just so happens to coincide with our own building of another corporate wormhole carrier, our Archon, I thought I would start it out with this topic.
There's alot of opinion on the eve boards about which type of carrier is good for which wormhole and if you should even build carriers inside a wormhole at all. Everyone has different answers, and not everything fits into a nice shiny box with a bow on it that works for everyone.
A corp should really ask what they want a carrier in their wormhole for as a leadoff into all the other questions that could possibly arise following the answer to this one simple question; why?
Is it for defense? Carriers are really the biggest and best answer to defense, be it for a fleet in your wormhole or for your POS. But in the form of logistics; remote repping shields and armor and energy transferring so other ships can do the same. Carriers are not first and foremost a DPS defensive tool. A single carrier can kick out 1000 dps on a target, and with a gang who can't flee or can't remote rep the target, it can be certain destruction. But in wormholes, you aren't normally going to be facing gangs of ships who can't or aren't prepared to tank a single carrier's DPS output.
So you unfortunately have to put the thought of your huge new shiny capital ship hot dropping onto targets, guns blazing away while little fighters slash their way through shields and armor. Because it doesn't happen like that, and carriers don't have guns.
I admit, I thought carriers were the end all be all for ultimate spaceship battles, but, it turns out, they are really just the uber clerics of Eve. They allow other ships to do what I stated above without exploding. They make it silly stupid hard to attack POSes when the defenders have them, and in wormholes, they are HUGE force multipliers since the opposing force can't bring them with to do the same thing you are. You give yourself real home field advantage with them.
Yes, they are huge, they are shiny and sexy. They make people pale when they see them on scan. But they are the space healers of Eve.
So now that we know what they are used for in defense, what else are you wanting to do with them?
You want to run sleeper sites with them. Well, depending on which class of wormhole you live in, that runs the gauntlet from "That's a good idea" to "That's a terrible idea" and back to "Gallente Elite Carrier Wreck".
Of course, this also depends on how large the corp you have supporting said carrier in said sleeper sites, so I'm going to assume that your corp size depends on the which class it is you're living in.
Starting in a Class 1, you've got less than 10 members, probably more like 3. There is no reason to bring a carrier, if you build one in your class 1, to a combat site. The sites consist of frigate and cruiser sized sleepers, neither of which do very much damage to a decently skilled character in a battlecruiser or up. Your remote repping skills are not needed. Nor can your fighters really even find their targets, let alone hit them. There is very little point to being there in a carrier. Along with that, we're assuming you don't have any support along. Someone combat probes you down and scrams you.
You're scrammed, you've got no support, and most likely, without divine intervention, you're going to be that wreck I talked about earlier.
Class 2s! Now carriers here at least have targets in the battleships in the sleeper sites. Fighters rip sleeper battleships to shreds, really helping out with the turnover on the sites if you have alot of them to do, and not all that many people to help out doing them. But, here again, your carrier does not belong in the site along with your fighters. You should have your fighters assigned to the shooters in the site. The carrier itself should be sitting, lazily sunning itself, barely outside your POS shield. At the slightest notion of trouble, it can lazily move inside.
Class 3s and 4s are really the same boat. You get enough people to support the carriers, you can take them into the sites if the pilots have the skills to keep them alive. Barring huge russian combat fleets, you should be able to get your carriers out to safety as you should have the support to see the trouble coming.
5s and 6s are where you actually need the cap ships, and having them along actually contributes to the payout of the sites through escalation, meaning you get six additional advanced sleeper battleships to spawn when you bring capital ships into Clas 5 and 6 sites. Since I haven't lived in one or been part of running in these classes of wormhole, all I can claim is from what I've read, amnd that is that you need them and want them in these class sites.
So, for sleeper sites, most people want to not take their giant, slow aligning, non DPS producing carriers into the combat sites. Therefore, do not produce carriers with the notion that they are for killing sleepers, unless you can support them with numbers and keep them alive. I don't, so they don't go to combat sites.
What else do you want to build carriers for? Regular readers will know what my favorite reason for my carriers are: psychological affect. I could call it the "Holy Shit" affect. Cause when you go in and hit D-scan, that's what comes out of your mouth.
It's the part of the equation that gets added in a gang or corp's mind when they are deciding wether to come in and gank you, or wether they should set up a ninja POS. When people are considering invoking harm on you, they have to weigh that huge beautiful hulking piece of naval technology in their plans, and the majority of them time they come to the conclusion you want them to: "It's Not Worth It."
Wether that means they aren't willing to invest the time to take down your POS, the ships that might get killed while attacking your POS while guns and the shields get repped, the possibility of meeting a fleet of yours supported with your carriers, none of those matter to you. Only the outcome does. They decide to go back the way they came.
It is my personal opinion that the carriers I have floating in my POS shield defend my wormhole sites while my corp is not logged in. And I have hundreds of DOTLAN readings that show two jumps from a K162 I find later. One in, and one right back out. The fact that while those intruders are going about their business in your hole, those sleeping giants may stir, and they may find them guarding their way back home when all is said and done.
That's my "psychological affect".
If you're a PvP corp, you're not building them for that reason, and you're also not looking at mine for that reason. They aren't going to stop you from running my sites because you know how to deal with them, and have the numbers as well. But the majority of Eve players don't, and I feel like it stops a large majority of people from running my sites, and therefore, it saves me money in that I still get to run those sites.
And the last reason to build carriers in a wormhole? Because you can! Carriers are bad ass, period. It's just cool to have a carrier, and to have one in a place that most likely, you are the only person who ever will? That's just got a cool factor all it's own to it. Is this a good reason? Heck no. But if you want to learn the ropes on carriers, this is a good place to do it. This was another of my reasons.
So now you've decided, we want carriers. But how much do they cost? How much trouble is it going to be to make these suckers?
Since you're in a wormhole and most people have at least one dedicated industrialist in their corps, I'm going to assume you have one. They're going to need the Capital Ship Construction skill, which takes some serious dedication to production skills. You need level 3 in it, level 4 if you want to build a Rorqual. Assume you want to build a Rorqual. If you're going to mine seriously, you need a Rorqual. See other posts about that.
So now you need your BPCs and your POS arrays. Best way to start is by buying a BPC pack for your carrier of choice, which will include the carrier BPC itself, along with all the capital ship component BPCs, like Capital Drone Bay BPC, Capital Jump Drive, etc etc.
To build a Capital class ship at a POS, you need a X-Large Ship Assembly Array. These are great, as they also double as great ore storage bays, since they can hold 18+ mil of space.
To actually start building the ship, first you need all the finished components. There are a number of trains of thought on how to get these components into your wormhole to begin production.
You can buy or produce the components outside your wormhole and truck them in with Orcas, or, if you live in the larger wormhole classes, with freighters. You should note, however, that capital ship components are HEAVY, most weighing 10,000m3. For most carriers, you need 100+ components. That's ALOT of mass going in the wormholes, and you'll go through alot of them to get enough components inside.
The method I use is to build the components at your POS. You need a Component Assembly Array for this. I keep the carrier BPC handy and keep track of what you need to build next. It will take a couple days to produce all the required components. You should anchor the Component Assembly Array near the X-Large Ship Assembly Array for easy transfer of the components, otherwise you'll be slow boating huge amounts of components across your POS shield.
The other thing you have to take into account is where the minerals for your ship are coming from. If you're making the components inside the wormhole, you are going to have to bring in the high sec minerals. Wormholes do not spawn enough of the high sec ores to even come close to having enough for you produce all your components. Plan on bringing in huge amounts of tritanium and pyerite, and depending on how much you are mining and how many grav sites you get, mexallon and isogen.
How much? Use Eve Smith to find out exactly how much. It's alot. But it's alot less trucking than if you were bringing in components from outside. ALOT less.
So you've spent days making the components, and you've got enough to start. How long do carriers take to make? You're looking at close to nine days until it pops out of the oven.
In the end, how much does your carrier actually cost you to make?
Using Eve Smith, our new Archon carrier clocks in at 647,091,659 mil isk.
But, iskwise, I probably only spent 200 mil on the trit and pyerite. The rest of the minerals came from corp mining ops inside this wormhole. And honestly, it's mostly not worth trucking out the trit, pyerite, isogen or mexallon to sell due to their mass. So you might as well be using them to make cap parts! I am constantly producing capital ship parts, and plan on popping out carriers and dreadnoughts as I end up with enough parts to make. A veritable used car lot of carriers and dreads.
The choice of which carrier to produce or what to fit on it are really outside of my purview, as I haven't the knowledge of using carriers in any settings other than wormholes. It all depends on your pilot's skills and if your wormhole has any sort of bonuses or negatives on it. Then it's pretty easy to figure out.
So, if you're an expert, or just want to chime in on what I've spewed, feel free to comment!