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Revised Roles and Mining Ship Memories August 8, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The distortion of time.

In my mind it does not seem so long ago that I downloaded Hadala’s Complete Mining Guide and set myself on the path to mining proficiency in EVE Online.  I bought an Osprey, created a second account to haul ore, got my little gang out in the belts and started on the ISK and skillpoint trail.  I had a plan.

Old models of… everything

And yet that second account, which I have active again, has a character with more that 50 million skill points now.  That was all almost five years ago.

Meanwhile, actually following like that plan seems like it took forever, training up and saving ISK for the next ship.  Yet I had a Retriever in less than a month, and was flying a Hulk in less than three.  Then it was simply a matter of optimizing.

Retriever and Mammoth

I tinkered around with ice mining, grabbing a Mackinaw and training a few more skills.  Later the Orca was introduced and I trained up for that.

Orca and Hulk Back in the Day

But that was all a few years ago and not much has changed since when it comes to the actual mining process.  Yes, the Rorqual showed up.  Prices have fluctuated.  Mineral prices have gone up and down, and the cost of a Hulk has changed quite a bit.  They were around 300 million ISK when they were still a new ship.  I bought my first one for close to 100 million ISK.  Lately, the price has been up again, in the 250 million ISK range thanks to changes in materials.

Well, not much has changed until today.

(You are now safely out of nostalgia and links back to ancient posts.)

Today we got the Inferno 1.2 patch.  You can read the full patch notes or Winterblink’s excellent summary. (Excellent because it pretty much sums up my feelings on a lot of it.)

Winterblink, however, skipped over the mining ship changes.  That is fine, as I want to bring those up.

CCP has decided, after years of neglect (and how many features in the game could be so described?), to change things up for mining barges and exhumers by recasting the whole set in new roles.  So I am going to contrast the new roles with how the ships were viewed back in the heyday of Hadala’s now officially out of date guide to mining.

A look at the barge and exhumer updates after the cut.

Okay, here is the list of ships and their new place in the universe.

Jester has a detailed look at the stat changes, which has an update and which will see another update soon (which I will link here), but I am going to focus more on the roles from the past versus where they are headed now.

Procurer

The littlest mining barge.

Original Role: The Fischer-Price “Baby’s First Mining Barge”  Cheap, flimsy, and slow to mine

Actual Role : The mining barge nobody flew.  If you followed the guide, your Osprey mined faster and was both cheaper and could put up a better defense.

New Role: The mining barge with hardened defenses

Once these mining barges were stratified by ore yield, something dictated by the number of mining lasers they could mount.  Now CCP has divided mining ship categories, like Gaul, into three parts; high defense, high yield, and mucho cargo.  The Procurer gets the hardened role.  Key attributes:

  • Mining Barge skill bonus per level: 5% bonus to shield hit points
  • Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 6000 / 5000 / 5500
  • Ore hold capacity: 12000
  • Cargo capacity: 350
  • Special bonus allows its 1 mining turret to have the mining output of 3 mining turrets

The defenses are the key point here.  The shield, armor, hull hit points are, for comparison, greater than everybody’s favorite over-tanked battlecruiser, the Drake.  That is some serious tank.  Previously the numbers were 195/313/469 for shield/armor/hull.  Nothing is ever going to stop the determined ganker with an unlimited budget, but I don’t think this will be meat for a solo Catalyst any more.

You can also see the other major changes.  Mining ships get special, dedicated ore holds, reduced cargo holds, and the great equalizer in the mining turret bonus.

Retriever

The Old Reliable

Original Role: The middle weight mining barge. Needed moderate skills for an additional mining turret.

Actual Role: The step between your Osprey and a Hulk.

New Role: Mining barge with superior ore hold capacity

  • Mining Barge skill bonus per level: 5% bonus to ore hold capacity
  • Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 2300 / 1700 / 2000
  • Ore hold capacity: 22000
  • Cargo capacity: 450
  • Special bonus allows its 2 mining turrets to have the output of 3 mining turrets

All the ship are getting ore hold, but this is most of a jet can worth of ore on board, and with the bonus at Mining Barge V getting you just about a full jet can stored away.  This is enough to make mining without a hauler… just running back and forth to the station… viable.  And the defenses are seriously upgraded as well.  Not a Drake’s worth, but no longer a rice paper shield.

Covetor

Used to be too close to a Hulk

Original Role: The top tier mining barge: 3 turrets, no waiting

Actual Role:  Once the Hulk came along, it became the ship you needed in order to… build a Hulk.  Skill-wise, once you got to a Covetor you were only a couple of days from a Hulk, which was better in all regards.  So you only flew this if you couldn’t afford a Hulk.

New Role: Role is now a mining barge with superior mining output

  • Mining Barge skill bonus per level: 4% bonus to Strip Miner yield, 3% reduction in Ice Harvester duration
  • Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 1700 / 1300 / 1500
  • Ore hold capacity: 7000
  • Cargo capacity: 350

The Covetor now fits the classic role of mining barge which needs to be serviced by a hauler.  The skills to fly it have also been cut down a bit according to a recent data dump (thank you Jester!), so you can start running this weeks before you can fly a Hulk.  That, along with the mild boost in defense and the boosts to yield and ice cycle time might mean we will actually see some of these in space.  Being tech 1 ships, they should be cheap.  No technetium required.

So those are the original mining barges.  Back in the mists of time, that was all you had.  Then tech 2 ships were introduced and, in the usual CCP method of things, they were placed in roles that did not line up with the tech 1 versions.  Instead they got their own narrowly defined roles.  Those roles were more successful, but now they are changing as well.

Skiff

The Noseeum comes to high sec

Original Role:  Mining Mercoxit in null sec.

Actual Role:  The ship you never saw in high sec because all it really did well was mine Mercoxit in null sec

New Role:  exhumer with superior defenses

  • Mining Barge skill bonus per level: 5% bonus to shield hit points, 5% bonus to all shield resistances
  • Exhumer skill bonus per level: 1% bonus to Strip Miner yield, 1% reduction in Ice Harvester duration
  • Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 6500 / 5500 / 6000
  • Ore hold capacity: 15000
  • Cargo capacity: 350
  • Special bonus allows its 1 mining turret to have the mining output of 3 mining turrets

The Skiff goes from being a very specialized exhumer to being the tanky ship in the fleet.  Bases resistances are up, defenses are up from the Procurer, the ore hold is of decent size, and you get the full joy of playing with mining crystals and the like.  Again, nothing is gank-proof, (look at this guy ganking PvE Tengus in high sec) but you might expect to see packs of Skiffs flying around soon with multi-account miners and the like.

Mackinaw

Ice ice baby no more

Original Role: The ice mining champ

Actual Role: The ice mining champ

New Role:  exhumer with superior ore hold capacity

  • Mining Barge skill bonus per level: 5% bonus to ore hold capacity, 5% bonus to all shield resistances
  • Exhumer skill bonus per level: 1% bonus to Strip Miner yield, 1% reduction in Ice Harvester duration
  • Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 3000 / 2300 / 2700
  • Ore hold capacity: 28000Cargo capacity: 450
  • Special bonus allows its 2 mining turrets to have the output of 3 mining turrets

A jet can’s worth of ore capacity, with even more available with the skill bonus (35K m3), boosts to shields, resists, decent yield, and the 2 turrets behaving like 3… will this be the mining bot ship of choice or what?

Hulk

The default option for more than five years

Original Role: The pinnacle of ore mining output

Actual Role: The pinnacle of ore mining output

New Role: The less well tanked pinnacle of all mining output

  • Mining Barge skill bonus per level: 3% bonus to Strip Miner yield, 5% bonus to all shield resistances
  • Exhumer skill bonus per level: 3% bonus to Strip Miner yield, 4% reduction in Ice Harvester duration
  • Defense (shields / armor / hull) : 2200 / 1800 / 2000
  • Ore hold capacity: 8500
  • Cargo capacity: 350

With its bonses, the Hulk will no doubt remain the champion of mining fleets everywhere.  With skill and foreman bonuses and a Rorqual to service them, the Hulk is still the rock stripping champion of New Eden.

But with the reduction in defenses and the change to an ore hold… which doesn’t get boosted by cargo expanders or rigs… the days of the Hulk being the ONLY real choice for mining might be over.

What Does It All Mean?

Here is, of course, the tricky bit.

It is always tempting to just go to the easy conclusions.  But New Eden should be a study guide for people wanting to learn about unintended consequences.  Who would have, for example, declared that the Orca would quickly become the party supply ship for low standing gankers in high sec when the specs were announced?  EVE Online has more than its fair share of innovators in the player base.

So while this new array of mining ships makes sense on the surface, that is no guarantee that things will work out that way in the end.

It seems likely that tech 1 mining barges will see a lot more use now.  They now have roles that stand out, they do more, they are much tougher, and they still cost a lot less than their tech 2 brethren.

It also seems like the heyday of the Hulk as the 95% solution for your ore mining concerns are over, especially when they will now be easier to gank than before.

But will the asteroid belts of New Eden be filled with a wider variety of mining ships?  Will survivability or a big ore hold trump raw yield numbers?

I wonder.

The thing is, if you really wanted survivability up to this point, you could have fitted out a reasonable Dominx with six mining lasers and a half decent tank.  Sure, you were not going to get Hulk yields, though you would be in the Covetor league.  But you would also not be worried about any but the most determined gankers.

How often do you see that?

Instead, if you look at Hulkageddon kills, you are much more likely to see Hulks setup with a pair of Mining Laser Upgrade IIs to eke out every last m3 of yeild and no defensive enhancements at all then anything that makes ganking seem like a worrisome issue. (Though you are also very likely to see just bad fits that do nothing for either yield or defense.)

So logic seems to dictate that we will see a wider variety of ships mining.  But my gut says that maximum yield has won out over logic in the past, and nothing I have seen indicates that will change.

What do you think?  Which will win, logic or yield?

Comments»

1. Anonymous - August 8, 2012

stay aligned, dscan, post a scout one system out. why tank a hulk?

2. Ardent Defender - August 8, 2012

Yield is my guess! Logic will always fail allot of players and botters.

3. carson63000 - August 8, 2012

Can’t argue with your conclusion. People had to decide between yield and other considerations in the past: they always chose yield*. No reason to see anything different here.

(* with the exception of the guaranteed one person per day in New Player Help trying to fit one mining laser to an industrial ship)

4. Wilhelm Arcturus - August 8, 2012

@Anon – Nearly 18K kills and counting. Clearly somebody needs to tank their mining ships.

@Carson – Yeah, I was the guy in the industrial with the mining laser at one point.

5. stnylan - August 8, 2012

The thing is previously actually you basically could only get a decent tank doing strange things to a Dominix or Rokh or similar – and your yield would still be rubbish. Now, with the Skiff and Mackinaw, you do have more genuine options for a reduced yield but very beefy tank – and a decent storage place to store that ore. I think the last will be what make those two ships start to appear. The comparatively small cargo holds of the mining battleships meant a lot more micromanagement.

Also however the addition of the ore bay allows more options – previously one usually in the Hulk would add Cargo rigs. Now they are irrelevant. Unless one wishes to mine ice or Mercoxit, those rig slots can now be used to beef up one’s defences while still fitting a mining laser upgrade in the lows. Indeed, they have no other practical use taking the above exception into account.

Yield though is a powerful draw – and the higher yields of the Hulk will likely tempt. And – if one is sensible about where one mines and keeps an eye on local – perhaps especially if one flys an Orca fit with shield maintenance bots and a shield transfer array – and rigs your Hulk accordingly – then really there is probably no reason not to go for yield.

I still think the best tank in a mining ship is keeping an eye in local and mine in a low-population system.

6. camlok - August 9, 2012

The mack still the ice mining champ? Base on my calculation at higher exhumer level (Iv and V) the hulk can mine more ice than the mack.

7. Wilhelm Arcturus - August 9, 2012

@Camlok – No, you misunderstood. Original Role and Actual Role were the pre-update intended and actual roles. New Role is what they are today, and the Hulk’s new role is the champ of all mining yields, as I noted.

8. Anonymouse - August 9, 2012

I expect to see more Procurers used by solo miners, especially during Hulkageddon.

One forum poster apparently has tanked one to 60,000 EHP, without any special modules.

Anything that can gank this ship is going to cost a lot more ISK to lose, especially since a T1 mining barge can be fully insured and a ganked miner will only lose 1 strip miner, not 3.

9. KA - August 9, 2012

Unless my math is off, I’m calculating the same yield for Retriever v. Procurer, and similarly for Mack v. Skiff, when fitting for tank (i.e. no MLUs) due to their respective role bonuses. So why bother flying the middle ships, even with their ore holds?

I can get more yield AND more tank out of a Skiff/Procurer fitted with MLUs than a tanked Mack/Retriever. Yes, the price is half the ore hold capacity and more frequent docking. The MLU bonus yield will mitigate some of the loss from more frequent docking but not all, but the extra tank almost seems worth it.

I like the changes, as they make the “EHP v. capacity v. yield” decision more complex. I just expected there would have been a difference in baseline yields to differentiate the first and second tier ships in each class. A role bonus of 150% to strip miner yield (rather than 200%) for the Skiff/Procurer would have been more reasonable, IMO.

10. DoyceT - August 10, 2012

The thing with your Domi example is that a Domi is expensive, compared to a procurer.

My in-game Procurer has, according to Eve’s fitting window, over 75k EHP, and fill it’s hold in about 4 and a half cycles for a whopping twenty or thirty million, fully fit. I never flew a mining barge before this, but when I can train into it in all of four or five days and fit one so cheap, why not?

In actual play, the MAIN problem with the procurer and skiff is that all of its yield is packed into a single strip miner, which makes it a lot harder to simply point, click, and catch up on episodes of Supernatural — you need to find BIG rocks to shoot, or switch targets often. I prefer to fly the ship, because it’s such a huge discouragement for ganking, but the retriever is nice, since you can spread your lasers out over multiple targets.

11. Bite Me - August 28, 2012

Like the change to the learning skill, CCP should return all the skillpoints put into mining skills and allow players to reassign the skillpoints given the revamped ships.


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