Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The mining barge changes

Yeah, the mining barges needed work.  Especially the problem of the Covetor - the high-end Tech-I mining barge needs two separate skills trained to Level 5, and for an unimplanted alt, Mining Barge V and Astrogeology V chew up over a month between them.  And once you get those done, you're only 18 hours away from a Hulk, anyway...

...well, 18 hours and 300 million ISK; the latter's a more formidable bar to a newer player.  The Hulk's ten times more expensive than the Covetor, and it doesn't mine anywhere close to ten times as efficiently.  Plus, the Goonswarm exhumer bounties make a Hulk a priority target for gankers, and you can't exactly use escorts to shoot the gankers off your miners.

So when the word came down that they're going to change the mining barges, I looked on with interest; when I came back from my years-long hiaitus, with no corp and no support structure, the only reliable way for me to earn money was by mining and manufacturing.  I mined, made mistakes, got can-flipped.  (I also got my first post-hiaitus PVP kill when a ganker tried to blow up my Retriever and miscalculated; I had Hornets out, which did enough damage alongside Concord that his Thrasher died while I still had some structure left.)  Mining is a reliable fall-back; everyone needs minerals, if for no other reason than that everyone needs new ships after they've gotten the worst of a combat session.  (Case in point: that Thrasher that tried to gank my Retriever and ended up with a destroyed ship and nothing to show for it.)

The changes make sense; the Procurer, instead of being basically worthless, now becomes the choice if you want to sacrifice yield for defensibility, with a battleship-level tank.  The Retriever yields more and has greatly improved storage, at the cost of some tank, making it a much better solo-operation vessel (and defeating can-flippers into the bargain).  And the Covetor ... well, it gets max yield by sacrificing tank and storage; like the report says, its niche will be mining-fleet operations.

And thinking about it, the changes make even more sense if you look at the roles of the mining barges' Tech-II cousins.

The Skiff (T2 Procurer) is optimized to mine mercoxit.  What's the problem with mercoxit?  If something goes wrong, you get a toxic gas cloud that will damage your ship.  How would a designer react to that?  Beef up the ship's structure ... as will be done with the update.

The Mackinaw (T2 Retriever) is optimized for ice mining.  What's the problem with ice?  It takes up insane amounts of cargo space - a thousand cubic meters per block.  How would a designer react to that?  Increase carrying capacity ... as will be done with the update.

The Hulk (T2 Covetor) is optimized for ore mining.  I'm not sure what they're going to change, other than put most of its cargo space into an ore hold instead of the standard cargo hold.

On the bright side, once the changes come through, hopefully I won't have to get the alt to train Mining Barge V to use a Covetor on fleet ops.

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