The Siege of VFK: A Study in Nullsec Trade Hubs
by, 2011-07-22 at 01:16 PM (2175 Views)
As these things go, the response by Goonswarm Federation was fairly instantaneous. Mere hours after the destruction of key cyno jammers resulted in the collapse of the eastern Deklein defense grid, Goonswarm had launched a fairly comprehensive counter-stroke which had ended in a subcap rout and has led to a semi-permanent reduction in PL supercap strength.
Artists' rendition of what a Mercilessdot Abaddon fleet would have looked like had they actually fired their lasers.
Despite this quick response, the blockade and reinforcement of VFK, however brief, shutdown merchant traffic and jump freighter convoys for close to 48 hours. With over 2000 individual pilots taking shifts on a permanent standing Alpha Fleet, the market implications were fairly staggering.
A Maelstrom, does anyone have a Maelstrom?
VFK is the largest trade hub in nullsec (nearly twice the size of its two closest competitors) and routinely battles Oursulaert for 10thlargest galaxy wide. But it doesn't matter if you are VFK or Jita, when thousands of pilots attempt to buy roughly the same thing over the course of eight hours, the market is going to run dry. It takes a very rare alignment of the stars for blockade runners to suddenly become the supply ship of choice, and for a short time in VFK we had it all: The gates were camped, the jump bridges were down, and every cyno threatened to attract blackops like Lady Scarlet to a ham. This led to an awkward predicament for a lot of pilots, they could:
* Fit something that only vaguely resembles the iron guidelines of the reimbursable Alpha Fleet (and pray for Atrum's mercy) OR
* Pay super premium prices for appropriate modules.
Now I am pretty sure no amount of rigs and cargo expanders will fit a 50,000 m3 Maelstrom into a blockade runner (which is a shame since the over-Jita margin on each unit approached 75 million ISK), but VFK needed everything and it needed it desperately. With 300% margins on faction ammo and 500% on everything else it was a wonder that Kalrand wasn't in MD trying to fill a trade bond to resupply the entire market himself.
Capitalizing on the chaos was easy, but with the bottom falling out on nullsec profitability, there is only so much spare income that can be spent. Almost any other alliance in the game would have collapsed under that kind of attack, at best there would have been a prolonged siege. One or two welped fleets into such a stalemate and convoys would needed to have been organized on regular highsec runs to resupply, and that allows opportunities for a push. The much maligned merchant empires of the recently deceased Northern Coalition have traditionally filled this tricky resupply gap (but that only works if the alliance is strong enough to stalemate a siege in the first place.)
But why rely on industrialists and traders for such a critical supply segment when you have tech? With the tech nerf perpetually “just around the corner” it makes sense for alliances like Test and Goonswarm to invest in a strategic ship and module reserve. Sure it would be a bitch to evac them if we lost our space, but we shouldn't lose our space without going through them. So unless someone forgets to paythe sov bills, and honestly I don't see that happening, it seems a strategic ship reserve would be the next step after peacetime reimbursement. Worst case scenario Mittani self-destructs 500 Maelstroms on VFK's undock before joining PL.