A corp day was declared where we all joined up to harvest ice, which will be turned into fuel for our towers.
The instance group continues to garner a very small turnout these days. This past week it was, again, just Potshot and I.
Which, in a way, is kind of liberating. Of the group, he and I play the largest spread of games. So we have a lot of options.
On the flip side of that, we also have a long tradition, going back to high school, of “what should we do tonight?” Having a wide range of possibilities has never been our friend in that situation. It has generally lead to the paralysis of choice.
Fortunately, we have adapted our own way around that, which is somebody suggests exactly one idea for the nights plan. If we like it, we go with it and do not bring up any alternative plans. This adheres to the ABC theory of selling, “Always Be Closing.” When you have agreement, you don’t muddy the water with further choices. If you don’t get agreement, you then move to other options.
We happened to be in EVE Online already and chatting on coms when the “what to do” part of the discussion came up. I happened to be on with my alt who was back up in our home region of Deklein where systems were surprisingly empty.
The deployment down to Curse has had its impact. I flew threw several systems and never saw more than one or two blues. More importantly, I saw no hostiles.
For the few weeks between the fall of Delve and the Curse deployment, Pandemic Legion was apparently at loose ends and so decided to set up an around the clock hot drop operation on our part of the region. There were any number of nights where I logged on and found two or three cloaked hostiles… either PL members or easily pegged as PL alts… in just about every system in our area. And lest you think that they were AFK cloaking just to annoy people, I saw them drop on people foolish enough to attempt to run anomalies or otherwise expose themselves in-system.
Basically, if you see a hostile in your system in null sec when you were planning to do something in that system, you just change your plans. You should rat or mine or put up a tower or otherwise linger in space or you may find a hostile blackops fleet suddenly on top of you. Welcome to ~elite PvP~ in null sec. They do it. We do it. It is the way of things. You cannot scan them down unless they screw up badly and cyno jammers do not block covert cynos used by blackops fleets, so you are just stuck.
But it also meant that the deployment to Curse, as awkward as getting down there tended to be, at least gave us something to do. In the week before that I was logging on every time, checking to see that our systems were still cloaky camped, finding that they were, and then logging off. Having another game to play when EVE isn’t cooperating with your plans remains a good idea.
However, since the Curse deployment, and the subsequent population drop in the cluster of systems I tend to think of as home, the cloaky camping has ceased. It is like nature took its course, and with the absence of prey, the predators moved on. They, it seems, also moved on to Curse, where they too are sitting on gates and otherwise engaging in more ~elite PvP~ in its various forms.
In the absence of conflict in our home region, I suggest that we could try mining.
How odd was that?
Potshot agreed to that option, probably for the same reason I suggested it: I wanted to see where I stood on that front, equipment-wise, and what we could accomplish in a few hours of burning down rocks.
So both of got our mains and our alts (one each) into Deklein to sort out what we had. I had a barely fit Hulk and a Mackinaw fit for ice mining and completely lacking in a tank. The latter was a setup left over from our last corp day when were were out working ice in order to get the raw materials for the fuel blocks needed by our towers, while the former has just sat in the hanger since the last time I tried mining out in null.
The first problem out of the gate was just equipping the ships with what was available in the immediate area and could be accommodated by the skills of each character. The second bit was a real sticker. While I had both characters trained up for mining in high sec, I had not invested much training time in the null sec ore varieties. So I ended up with a Mackinaw fit with tier I strip miners, which could mine anything, and a Hulk fit with modulated strip miners, but which could only mount crystals for a couple of the juicer asteroid options.
The Mackinaw was ready first, so I put my alt in it and sent him out to the belts. With the huge ore hold of the Mackinaw… being the exhumer with the big capacity its post-rebalance role… I figured my alt could mine away for a bit while I sorted out the Hulk. Potshot likewise had a Mackinaw ready, and soon we were out in the belts.
And the first thing I noticed was that all the asteroids were a long ways away from where I had landed… to the point that I was wondering if I accidentally warped in at an extended range. But Potshot reported the same thing upon warping to the belt at zero, so that is just the way things are I guess.
We began slowly motoring out to some likely looking spots in the belt while I considered the viability of strapping a microwarp drive to the Mackinaw. Moving 30km or so at ~100m/s takes a while when you are just staring at the screen.
Meanwhile, I managed to scrape together a minimal tank for the Hulk and had just landed in the field when some rats spawned. Tech II scout drones and a sketchy tank turned out to not be up to the task and we all ended up warping back to the station.
There I pulled out Wil’s ratting Tengu and went to go sit on the belt and pop rats while others mined and hauled. Potshot and I flew our Mackinaws back out to the belt. As it turned out, the 1MN microwarp drive I had handy did not improve the velocity of the Mackinaw all that much, boosting it to all of 130m/s. But it was something.
And then we burned rocks.
I hit a patch of Dark Ochre, which seemed like a good idea until I realized that it was the only type for which I had no refining skill whatsoever. Potshot went after some rocks near by while pulling out his cloaked Mammoth to haul for us. When the Dark Ochre ran out, I hit the close by Hemorphite and then Jaspet.
Once you are settled in to the mining routine, it is relaxing. We spent time chatting and planning what we ought to have on hand to make this go better. Doing this sort of off-the-cuff meant making do. There is some equipment I should ship out for next time.
Among the things that I had forgotten about was that I had trained up Wil in the mining boss leadership skills. Just sitting there he was boosting yield per cycle by 10%. I probably could have mounted a mining foreman link on the Tengu if I had had one handy.
So we ground away for a while, then collected our ore together, paid the corp tax on mining (by contracting 5% of the yield to the corp), and called it a night.
The next day, with the area still quiet, I brought out the Tengu and ran a Guristas Forsaken Hub anomaly.
That netted me about twice as much ISK in about a quarter the time as the previous night’s mining operation. Of course, the Tengu is optimized for that and the Guristas Forsaken Hub is the best time/money yield.
But with some planning our next mining op should be more profitable. We were well aware we were doing things badly, but it gave us a chance to at least enumerate all the things we could do better.
As I mentioned previously, the last big thing CCP dropped into EVE Online was an update to dedicated mining ships. The stated intent was to change the roles which the ships occupied in the game.
Each group of ships, tech 1 mining barges and tech 2 exhumers, would be divided into three new roles based on aspects of the mining process. The new roles were actually priorities, the theory being you could choose which mattered most to you. Those priorities are:
- Storage Capacity
Pick your focus. If you are worried about being ganked, go with high defense. If you want to burn the most rocks, choose yield. And I guess if you want to mine without the logistical tail of a hauler, choose storage capacity.
My prediction was that players would stick with the Hulk. Even though it lost some defensive capabilities… ganking Hulks got easier with this change… it remains the premier exhumer for mining the maximum amount of ore (or ice) in the minimum amount of time.
And past experience… go look at Hulkageddon kill mails… shows that people will fit.., when they put any thought into fitting at all… to maximize yield first and storage second, while defense remains a distant and rarely considered third.
I know what I was mining regularly, that was my priority set. And it was reinforced by the fact that I never lost a mining ship. Well, except for one that was in the cargo hold of another ship back in my more naive days.
I haven’t been back to mining in any serious way in a couple of years, and I do not expect I will return any time soon.
Still, the idea of the Mackinaw harvesting away while I worked on something else… like writing blog posts… has an appeal. My second account is off in high security space involved with an industrial concern that is building tech II modules. But that only takes up a bit of his time, so I have been doing some building and sales on my own. And if he could, for example, save a bit of ISK by idly mining some rocks while I was otherwise occupied, it might be worthwhile.
So I decided to build up a mining ship for that purpose, limited only to parts I had on hand.
Fortunately, being a pack rat, I have a lot of parts on hand. That included a Mackinaw hull left over from a brief dalliance with ice mining a few years back. And so I assembled my ship.
I like the ORE logo on the back fender of the ship. I must have opted for the gold trim upgrade.
I ended up fitting:
- 2x Modulated Strip Miner II
- 2x Veldspar Mining Crystal II
- 2x Mining Laser Upgrade I
- 2x Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
- 2x Meta 3 Shield Hardeners (I forget the names at the moment)
- 1x Small Shield Extender I
- 1x Dactyl Asteroid Analyzer
Thanks to the skills on my alts, which are at 5 all around for mining and defense, this gave me a Mackinaw that has about 25K effective hit points (EHP), could hold 35K m3 of ore, and which could pull down 1140 m3 of ore a minute, if I kept the mining lasers targeted.
That means I fill up the ore hold in about 30 minutes, at which point I fly back to the station, empty the hold, fly back to my bookmark… or another belt bookmark… and start again. A full hold of just plain veldspar gets me about a million units of tritanium (333 veldspar refine to 1000 tritanium, and my guy has the skills and standings to get 100% refining yield), which I could turn into 6 million ISK pretty easily just servicing buy orders at the trade hub a few jumps away.
Given turn around time in station and occasional foibles in keeping lasers pointed at rocks full or ore, this is maybe a 10 million ISK an hour occupation in the given market.
There certainly are more lucrative occupations. I could easily make 4-5 times as much running the right null sec anomalies based on bounties alone. And Jester has a list of other activities I would be stupid to ignore if making ISK were my primary goal.
Hell, I could just mine better rocks and make more ISK. I chose veldspar because I happened to have the tech II crystals on hand and because in the systems where I mine, nobody touches the veldspar. I can come in many hours after downtime and find a rich bounty that requires little in the way of laser management.
But for an activity that requires little effort, it isn’t bad. And I can do it in a ship which, while hardly gank proof, is much better protected than your average Hulkageddon victim. (I do keep myself aligned to warp out and my window arrangement keeps the overview in my field of vision to avoid surprises.)
This is just the sort of thing that has upset some people. Not that somebody expressing outrage over any change CCP makes is a new thing, but the linked article felt to me like it was straying dangerously close to what I would call “ganker entitlement,” a theme I suspect will continue in parts II and III.
But you still have to ask, “Is this too much?” Is my slightly safer semi-afk exhumer a good thing or a bad thing? Is the change going to kill off ganking and eventually flood the market with cheap minerals leading to a price crash? Or will things remain business as usual?
Looking at the Eternal Hulkageddon kill board, which stands at 18,783 kills right now (10,454 Champion, 8,329 Junior), it seems like ganking is carrying on in its merry way. The recent kills on the front page are all very recent indeed. So somebody out there is carrying on as though it were business as usual.
But that might be because players continue to choose the Hulk and yield above all else, in which case ganking got easier not harder.
What do you think?
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.
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.
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.)
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.
Again, CCP_Diagoras offers up data tidbits too juicy to ignore.
This time it is a comparison of mining activity before and after the Inferno: Escalation update went live.
One of the notable aspects of this update was the removal of mineral drops from drone NPCs and the removal of tech I ship fittings from all NPC drops. Both of these were very significant sources of mineral in the New Eden economy.
The intent of this was to spur mining and make it a more profitable venture.
So you would assume that mining activity would be on the rise post-Escalation. And there was an increase some regions of space.
Compared to the 7 day avg before Escalation, the last 7 have seen a 14.3% increase in avg m3 mined in nullsec (from 19.8% to 33.2% of total)
Compared to the 7 day avg before Escalation, the last 7 have seen a 49.1% increase in avg m3 mined in low sec (from 0.26% to 0.58% of total)
Compared to the 7 day avg before Escalation, the last 7 have seen a 14.7% increase in avg m3 mined in WH sec (from 2.8% to 4.7% of total)
So far, as expected. Rising mineral prices appear to be driving a desire to mine.
Then there is high sec:
Compared to the 7 day average before Escalation, the last 7 days have seen a 45.53% decrease in average m3 of ore mined within high sec.
Ouch, a 45% dive!
Of course, Hulkageddon is under way. And Hulkageddon targets are primarily in high security space. So most of those (as of this moment) nearly 4,000 dead mining ships on the leaderboard were in high sec.
The targets are in high sec for two reasons.
First, in low, null, and WH space, miners already have to take defensive precautions every day. Hulkageddon in null sec, for example, is pretty much a non-event.
Second, most of the miners in the game are in high sec space. CCP_Diagoras put up one more factoid that illustrates this very well.
Average mined per day for the last 7 days: High (1.47bn m3), Low (13.8m m3), Null (796m m3), WH (112m m3)
So even with a 45% drop in high sec mining, it is still the place where most of the ore is harvested. High sec accounts for nearly double the ore as the rest of space, even with Hulkageddon in full forces.
I hope we’ll get to see some 7 day yields in the post-Hulkageddon time frame to see how much ore high sec miners will be pulling in when the threat of gank has been (mostly) removed.
One of the allures of 0.0 security space is all the fabulous ore you can mine out there. The prime end of the asteroid list, Arkenor, Bistot, Crokite, and the very special Mercoxit, which requires a special exhumer, the Skiff, to mine. All of these refine down to minerals that are quite valuable. You can get all the tritanium you want in high sec… if you can avoid being blown up at the moment… but for more rare minerals in large quantities, you pretty much have to go to null sec.
And so it was that when I packed my bags for my null sec adventure, I had three ships delivered to null sec. There was my Crane, a blockade running for moving things around, my Tengu, in which to rat, my Noctis, to salvage rats and anomalies, and one of my Hulks, in order to harvest the bounty of the lawless regions of space.
Combat ships I have purchased out in null sec. Our alliance has a reasonable supply, pre-fit, up as contracts for members to purchase. But you have to supply your own supplementary ships.
The Hulk pretty much sat in the station gathering dust for the first couple of months. There was a war on and all. But with the end of the war, I though it might be time for it to earn its keep.
I am an old hand at mining in high sec. I had three accounts going at one point to run my own mini ops. That was, however, a couple of years ago. I think the high water mark for me was back in 2009. That was back before the first Hulkageddon. And in the mean time, a few of the details seemed to have slipped my mind. And, in EVE, the details are everything.
To mine with a Hulk at its most efficient, you need the tech II strip miner modules which require you to fit a crystal in each specific to the type of asteroid you are going to mine. Like everything in EVE, you need a skill to fit strip miners, a high level of that skill to fit the tech II version, and yet another skill for any given crystal you wish to fit.
Along with the Hulk I sent out some crystals I had sitting around. I had a few for the ABC asteroids, which I think came as mission rewards at some point, along with some for lesser asteroids, just in case.
When the first mining op came around, I got in the Hulk, put some crystals in the hold, and undocked. I quickly found that I could not fit any of the crystals for the high value ore. While I only had the standard versions of the crystals, not the tech II versions, the skill needed was higher than I thought. I had the skills themselves, but only trained up to level II.
Thwarted, I skulked off to setup my training queue for mining.
Each of the level III skills required about a day. And then there was a wait for another mining op to come around.
I had to wait for another mining op because the Hulk I brought out was fit only for maximum mining efficiency. One of those fits that Helicity Boson would mock on a Hulkageddon kill mail. All mining power, no tank beyond the minimum. I had some drones in the drone bay for killing off rats, and that was fine for high sec mining. But null sec rats are a bit beefier. They spawn in battlecruisers and battleships as often as not.
And, of course, the items I would need to refit the Hulk for null sec work were not readily available in our region. Combat ships? On contract, no problem. Parts for a Hulk? I might as well need parts for a Citroën DS.
So I held off mining until an op was going up, during which I would have some protection.
This past Sunday, Gaff was up for such an op. At least for a short time. We got out to a belt where somebody else was mining as well and set up shop.
As it was, there were a few of the ABC rocks left, but other people seemed to already be tapping them, and I am never sure of etiquette in that regard. Do I mine a rock somebody else is working on or not. So I looked through the cargo hold and found some tech II Kernite crystals.
Kernite isn’t bad. Yes, I could find that in Amarr space. But at least with tech II crystals I would be pulling it down at maximum efficiency. And so I began burning down kernite asteroids.
We kept it up for about 40 minutes total, before Gaff had to leave. During that time I pulled down about 90,000 cubic meters of kernite ore. Gaff was good enough to haul that back to the station in his Rorqual, a capital level mining ship. (Pictures of his ship here.)
He passed it over to me back in the station. I contracted 10% of it to our industry director, a requirement of the corp. Essentially an ore tax. And then I was left with about 80K m3 of ore.
The station in the system we were mining does not have the ability to refine ore. To do that I would have to take the pile of ore one jump over, to a station that had refining available.
My ship options were my Noctis, which can hold about 1.5K m3 or cargo, or my Crane, which can hold about 5K m3. Which would mean a lot of trips.
Even after refining the ore down, the resulting minerals are still going to take up a lot of space, more than either of my potential haulers can manage in one trip. And to send the minerals off to Jita, where they will fetch the best price, I have to get them a half a dozen jumps over to VFK in order to get them on the regular delivery route.
So actually mining in null sec… easy, once you have the skills and a properly fit Hulk.
The logistics of getting the results to market… less so.
Gaff has a jump freighter out in null sec, and will haul my rocks around. We just have to be on at the same time, which is difficult during the week. I am usually logging on at about the time he goes to bed.
It is enough for me to start thinking about getting a hauling alt out in null sec. Or a mining alt. I could make that work.
My main character was actually the hauler for my operations back in high sec. If I could get him a better ship and train up a bit on my main mining character… he needs the skills to fit the ABC crystals… I could make this work. And then get my alt into the corp. And then get him out to null sec.
The devil is in the details, as always with EVE, and I have a ways to go before I become space rich on the bounty of null sec asteroids.
The order of upcoming cataclysmic player events in EVE Online looks to be coming in the following order:
- Destroy Jita
- Hulkageddon V
- The Economic Aftermath
The first two you have probably heard about one way or another. The third might be news to you.
More after the cut since this whole thing became much longer than I anticipated.