Having now experience wormhole (WH) space from a C1 to a C6, I’d like to talk a bit about the design behind them, and how players have adapted. Out of all MMO content, I think WH space in EVE is perhaps the most unique, most dynamic (real dynamic, not ‘dynamic’ dynamic), most sandbox thing out. It of course works in large part because of EVE itself, but even among EVE content WH space is really different.
For non-EVE players, here is a very basic rundown. Each wormhole is its own ‘zone’ that randomly connects to other ‘zones’, be it other wormholes or known space (high-sec, low-sec, 0.0 space). The zones difficulty scales from a C1 (easiest) to C6 (hardest), but not in all aspects. Finally, C1-C3 space is ‘shallow’, meaning the static connections (generally) go to known space, while C4-C-6 space can only have statics to other WH space. Random openings can also occur, so occasionally a C6 will have a direct route into high-sec. Confused yet? Hopefully talking about each class will clarify things a little.
C1: These WHs contain the easiest sleeper (NPCs), and also yield the lowest profits from fighting them. They are numerous, and only a battlecruiser or below can enter them. The low sleeper profits make C1s generally ‘pointless’ in that regard. But here is where players got creative, and the true nature of WH spaces comes out.
Not all things scale in WH space like sleepers. Planets, for instance, are all the same, and they are all set to the highest levels available (deep 0.0 space). This means that for planetary interaction, a C1 is just as good as a C6 in terms of output. That can be very profitable. Furthermore, since you can anchor a POS (or a dozen) in any WH, a C1 is just as good as a C6 for doing POS reactions or production, and since attacking a C1 POS is a major pain due to the ship and mass limits, your POS is (generally) far safer than even in Empire space.
Additionally, grav (mining) and ladar (gas) sites are not as strictly bound to WH class as sleeper sites. This means you can often mine the highest quality ore, and collect valuable gas, just as well in a C1 as you can in a C6. While WH space does present some challenges in terms of getting your goods to market or using them, the fact that they are available is pretty huge.
C2: While the sleepers are a bit tougher here, they are still fairly easy to solo for just about anyone with a decent battlecruiser, and the loot is still not amazing (though far better than lvl 4 missions). What makes C2 space special is that you generally (always?) have both a kspace static and a wspace static. This means that you can easily get supply into your WH, and also roll (force close) your wspace static to connect to others. Why would you want to do that? For PvP of course. Being able to connect to another WH, get a few cloaky PvP ships inside, and jump on unsuspecting players (perhaps farming valuable sleepers) can be very profitable and fun.
C3: The highest class of ‘shallow’ wormholes, C3 sleeper sites can be very decent ISK for small groups, or even a solo pilot with a solid ship. The type of static can vary, and something like a low-sec static means you won’t be getting a lot of visitors if you are good about closing unwanted random entrances. Having living in this type of WH for a while, I can easily say they make a great home for a smallish Corp looking to get into WH space.
C4: This is the WH class I have the least experience in, but what I’ve heard makes them sound like the redheaded stepchild of the bunch. The ISK jump from a C3 to a C4 is not major due to being unable to escalate the sites (bring a capital ship in and have more sleepers spawn), the logistics are harder since you are now in ‘deep’ WH space, and you still have all of the challenges in terms of invaders and such.
C5: At this class you can make some very serious (billions) of ISK due to capital escalations. The sites require plenty of logi (healer) support, and ships will die very quickly if people are not paying attention, but once you get some capital ships and know what you are doing, you will profit very quickly. Also due to the increased size of the entrances/exits, you can PvP roam in bigger fleets and invade others easier.
C6: The highest WH class with the highest ISK reward. Somewhat surprisingly a C6 is not a huge jump in ISK or difficulty compared to a C5, but it is higher. One big thing about C6s is that there are not a lot of them, meaning that if you have a static C6, you can roll the static and find the WH you are looking for ‘easily’ (in EVE terms. You still only have about a 2% chance per roll, and rolling can take 10 minutes or (much) longer). How you use this depends on what you plan to do, but it’s an important factor, especially when you consider the resources and skill level of Corps/Alliances at the C6 level.
And the above only really scratches the surface and talks about the ‘normal’ things people do with wormholes. I’m sure there are dozens of unique uses for WH space, with creative Corps and Alliances doing some very interesting things. But due to the nature of WH space itself, finding out what, let alone how, can be very difficult, if not impossible.
As veterans are always quick to point out, wormhole space is truly the last great frontier.