Planetary Conquest: A Guide to the Dark Art

Planetary Conquest (PC) can be described at best as a dark art. Hopefully this guide will help to pull back the veil and help you understand what the heck is actually going on. Since its launch, Planetary Conquest has been through several important changes and the documentation of those changes is scattered across various Dev blogs and forum posts. Planetary Conquest is largely considered DUST 514’s “endgame” where players take the reins on when battles will happen and carve out a chunk of land to call their own. That fight currently takes place in only one region in New Eden, Molden Heath. Surrounding these fights are a myriad of rules, both in-battle and out of battle, that control the flow of battles across this region. Just remember that when you stare into the abyss it stares back.

PC Battles

To start out it’s important to know how Planetary Conquest battles themselves work. Planetary Conquest battles play out just like a public skirmish battle with a few key differences. First is that corporations involved in the battle control who is involved in the battles. This is specifically through the role of Terrestrial Combat Officer (TCO) which gives the ability to join a planetary conquest battle and bring other players in and the role of director which gives the ability to remove a player from a battle while in the warbarge lobby. Secondly, like faction warfare, friendly fire is enabled in PC. Also an EVE pilot that is a member of an alliance or corporation involved in the battle can provide orbital support every 3 minutes they are connected to the district where the fight takes place. Another key difference is that unlike faction warfare or public skirmish the clone count for these battles is determined by the clones on the owner’s district and the number of clones sent by the attacker. Last, the payouts in these battles are calculated by using “keep what you kill” where each team gets the ISK value of the gear they destroy in the battle.

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There is actually an opportunity for multiple battles to happen in sequence often referred to as a “re-up”. In the case of a defender winning against an attack 150 clones are automatically destroyed. Out of the remaining clones from an attack 50% are stolen and added to the defender’s district. In the case of the attacker winning the defender loses the number of clones killed on the defender side or 150 clones, whichever is greater. If the attacker was able to keep over 100 clones or more then another battle will take place in five minutes after the first. If the attacker wins a battle but has less than 100 clones they have an opportunity to launch a follow up attack within 1 hour of when the battle starts, which will occur the next day. Once a defender is reduced to zero clones the attackers take ownership of the district with whatever clones that survived the fighting on their side. In order to initiate a Planetary Conquest battle your first step will be a Clone Starter Pack.

Clone Packs and Clone Count

Every journey into Planetary Conquest starts with the Clone Starter Pack. This allows you to launch an attack on a district anywhere in Molden Heath. These packs cost 50 million ISK each and give you 150 clones to use in battle. This is a pretty hefty investment and a better route is probably buying or being gifted a district rather than attempting to clone pack your way in by force. More on that later though. In order to launch a clone pack attack you must have the role of Director, CEO, or Terrestrial Logistics Officer. The ISK for the clone packs must also be available in the corporation’s mercenary wallet division.

To break into Planetary Conquest you will need enough ISK for at least 2 clone packs and more than likely 5, so that would come up to 150 million to 250 million ISK. Now when you have this ISK ready to go it’s time to pick a target. Your best bet is to hit a district that is low on clones and there are few websites that can help with this:

http://evemaps.dotlan.net/districts/Molden_Heath

http://dust-gents.com/districts.php?sort=lowclones

http://www.dustcharts.com/

Also an important part of picking a district with low clones has to do with when an attack will land and taking into account district generation. You can easily find districts that aren’t generating clones using www.stuff514.com and specifically the following link. If district is +80 or +100 then that means the district with have its current clone count plus 2 times the additional amount after an attack. If you attack a district with no regeneration though then it will only get one reinforcement. The reasons behind a district having +80 or +100 daily generation and its total clone count being either 300 or 450 has to do with its surface infrastructure.

Surface Infrastructure and Timers

Surface Infrastructure

The next part of picking a target is knowing the surface infrastructure of a target district and what it means should you conquer that district. There are 3 surface infrastructures in Dust the Cargo Hub, Surface Research Lab, and Production Facility. Each structure has a unique logistical benefit although in the current environment the Cargo Hub has the most advantages. A Cargo Hub generates 80 clones a day and has a maximum storage capacity of 450 clones, which is 150 more clones that either the Lab or Production Facility. Since victorious attacks are guaranteed to destroy at least 150 clones a battle this means that it will take three successful attacks to conquer in most cases. This defensive advantage is coupled with the offensive ability to launch more clones for attacks while still being able to keep plenty of clone in reserve in case of  counter attack or attacks of opportunity. Next the research lab which has 300 max clones storage and generates 80 clones a day. Its real advantage is that is allows clones to travel four jumps before clone attrition starts to reduce the number of clones that arrive at the target district. This advantage is largely overshadowed by the sheer numbers of clones that can be sent by a cargo hub to overcome attrition, but can still be handy in sending 150 clone attacks long distances or claiming a distant district gained through diplomacy or economic means. Clone attrition will be explained in greater detail later. Last is the Production Facility which can store 300 clones and generates 100 clones a day. This increased clone generation allows the district to bounce back more quickly from fighting and also enables you to send 200 clones in an attack while still being able to have full clones should someone counterattack the district. Once a district is conquered the surface infrastructure can be changed but at a hefty price of 100 million ISK, and additionally putting the district in the locked state so no further actions can be taken by the district owner.

Surface Infrastructure Max Clone Count Daily Generation Unique Attribute
Cargo Hub 450 +80 Clones +150 Max Clone Count
Surface Research Lab 300 +80 Clones No Attrition for 4 Jumps
Production Facility 300 +100 Clones +20 clones to daily generation

Timers and how they work are probably one of the more frustrating parts of PC. All times are based off of Coordinated Universal (UTC) aka EVE time. This is the time on the clock in the bottom right when you open the neocom. The key thing to know is that a PC battle will happen in a minimum of 24 hours from when an attack is launched. Due to this 24 hour minimum there will always be two reinforcements from when an attack is launched and when the battle occurs. How this works in practice is if you attack before a reinforcement timer the fight will happen the next day. For example, you launch an attack on 1800 Wednesday on a district with a 1900 timer the fight will occur at a random 10 minute interval between 1900 and 2000 on Thursday. If you were to launch the same attack but at 1930 then the battle will take place between 1900 and 2000 on Friday after two reinforcements. Each reinforcement will add the plus clone value to a district. In the case of a district that is not generating there will still be one reinforcement before your attack lands.

Lastly, in order to attack a district it has to be in a state you can attack. This is actually much simpler than you would think. As long as a district isn’t “Under Attack” you can attack it yourself. A locked district can still be attacked despite the somewhat misleading or confusing term “district locking” that gets used in PC circles. District locking refers to friendly self-attacks and not the “Locked” state. Don’t be fooled by land holders trying to hid behind the “Locked” district state!

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If you don’t want to spend the time and ISK it takes to break into Planetary Conquest by attacking with clone starter packs there is another option through district “buying.” In the current PC environment there are several groups willing to give new corps a starting PC district at no cost. These include namely 0uter.Heaven, Capital Acquisitions, and potentially other corporations that have more than ten districts. If someone tries to offer to sell you a district it’s likely a scam, but there are some legitimate offers out there. Even though there is a high cost some corps will prefer to fight their way into PC. This will probably ensure your corp has the mettle needed to survive in Planetary Conquest.

So now  you have your first district through combat or other means and you want to move onto conquering your next district. Launching attacks from districts is restricted by clone attrition. Simply put, clone attrition is how many clones get lost in transit over X jumps, however only jumps with systems of security status of 0.4 and lower are counted. The security status of a system can be seen when viewing a system on the star map. There is also an ISK cost associated with launching an attack from a district that increases with the distance of the attack. The specifics of clone attrition can be seen in the following table:

Jumps Survival Rate Survival Rate With Research Lab ISK Cost
Same Planet 100% 100% 1,500,000 ISK
Same Solar System 100% 100% 1,750,000 ISK
1 Jump 95% 100% 2,000,000 ISK
2 Jumps 90% 100% 2.250,000 ISK
3 Jumps 85% 100% 2,500,000 ISK
4 Jumps 80% 100% 2,750,000 ISK
5 Jumps 75% 95% 3,000,000 ISK
6 Jumps 70% 90% 3,250,000 ISK
7 Jumps 65% 85% 3,500,000 ISK
8 Jumps 60% 80% 3,750,000 ISK
9 Jumps 55% 75% 4,000,000 ISK
10 Jumps 50% 70% 4,250,000 ISK
11 Jumps 45% 65% 4,500,000 ISK
12 Jumps 40% 60% 4,750,000 ISK
13 Jumps 35% 55% 5,000,000 ISK
14 Jumps 30% 50% 5,250,000 ISK
15 Jumps 25% 45% 5,500,000 ISK
16 Jumps 20% 40% 5,750,000 ISK
17 Jumps 15% 35% 6,000,000 ISK
18 Jumps 10% 30% 6,250,000 ISK
19 Jumps 5% 25% 6,500,000 ISK
20 Jumps 0% 20% 6,750,000 ISK
21 Jumps 0% 15% 7,000,000 ISK
22 Jumps 0% 10% 7,250,000 ISK
23 Jumps 0% 5% 7,500,000 ISK

With multiple districts  you can move clones to reinforce a district that is online but low on clones. This is extremely useful for district pairs in the same system such as a production facility and cargo hub. A large attack can be launched from the hub and then the district can be reinforced with clones moved from a neighboring production facility to ensure it has plenty of clones in case of a counter attack. Once a reinforcement is made though the district will go into the locked state the same as if the timer was changed. A more advanced method of district reinforcement is to completely empty a district and then reinforce it. This will keep the district online and actually allow three reinforcements to occur if it is attacked. This is a risky and dangerous method and is recommended  only if you have two officers coordinating these types of moves. Last you can sell clones but since clone price has been reduced to zero the only real use for this function is to easily abandon a district. This is the best method to execute a district transfer or sale since the move to “keep what you kill” payouts.

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Knowing all the aspects to Planetary Conquest in its current state is critical whether you have one district or a vast empire. In the end, you have to win your battles on the ground, but you can’t fight if your clones never get there. Getting the hang of this dark art isn’t easy and it takes time, but with practice you will find yourself a master of PC logistics.

About Kane Spero 2 Articles
Kane Spero, aka Kain Spero, is a closed beta DUST veteran and former CPM. He leads the Negative-Feedback Alliance and is heavily involved in Planetary Conquest. He's also a longtime EVE player of almost 10 years. Follow him @kainspero on twitter.
  • Arkena

    “The Dark Art”
    10/10 title.

  • Dust Merc

    nice

  • Nick Ashley

    Thanks for this article. This is the only concise description of PC mechanics out there.

  • Duncan Idaho

    Thanks for this guide, it’s helped explain some stuff to a non-PC player. I had to read the section on timers twice before I understood it. What I hadn’t understood first time around was that a timer dictates not only the time of day that reinforcements arrive, but also the time of day that a battle will occur. Hence the double-reinforcements on the 2nd example.

  • Arkena

    QQ Kane

  • CuChulainn

    Awesome post Kane! Art.of.Death thanks you…07

  • ( DeaDPooL )

    how about someone from cpm begins to break down all the new change’s that are coming to dust514 in p.c . aswell getting more vet & new corps involved in p.c etc . would be nice to have a ( ah-hmmm ) podcast about this 🙂 lol