Motivating people relies on two things: carrots and sticks, or rewards and punishments. With the recent changes to mining most players feel like CCP’s given them the short end of the stick. Some probably feel like CCP’s been beating them with that stick over and over again. I’m not going to pretend to even know the data CCP’s looked at to figure out why and how they need to change resources, but I do know human behaviour. After the domme flogs her sub, a good domme gives aftercare and cuddles. So far, the playerbase has been getting flogged and flogged, and it’s time for our cuddles, please. Safeword.
Mining in a World of Sticks
Mining ships are mostly helpless. If one were to talk about predators and prey in EVE Online, then mining ships would be the epitomic prey. Hulkageddon was a thing for many years. Players went into high sec to gank hulks and other mining ships. Even now, CODE ganks and bumps miners to an abusive extent. Rorquals are pretty formidable, but outside of the null sec blocs, miners are not running those. Most mining happens in high sec, and it’s high sec miners that need CCP’s focus.
During the COVID pandemic, much ado has been made about the essential workers in our societies and how they are often the most underpaid and abused workers. In EVE, miners are the essential workers. In an economy where everything is player made, no minerals means no ships, weapons, or ammo. And despite all the abuse and murder they suffer at the hands of EVE’s sociopathic players, the miners keep going every day.
It’s time to give the miners something. It’s time to give them some teeth. CCP expects these essential workers to go into low sec for their ore. Low sec is a dangerous place. Miners in low sec will die. If CCP wants miners to risk getting beaten with sticks in order to keep New Eden running, then CCP needs to throw them a carrot.
A Ship, a Single Ship with Teeth
Currently, if a solo miner wants to pull in their rocks in a non-helpless ship, they use a Skiff. At 300 million ISK, the Skiff is not cheap. With mining drones out, a solo Skiff pulls in 22.6 m3/s of ore. Combat drones out reduces the ore yield to to 16.9 m3/s, but adds a formidable 274 DPS with drones to 60km. The Skiff is also a little difficult to kill and somewhat difficult to gank at 112 thousand effective hit points.
However, compare that to a battlecruiser like a Ferox, which can do the same amount of damage with rails at over double the Skiff’s drone control range. It’s crystal clear that even a Skiff going into low sec is going to be at a great disadvantage. Not only can an opponent defang a Skiff, but recon ships can warp disrupt a Skiff from outside its drone control range. Fights will still occur more at knife range, but the limitations of a pure drone weapons system need to be noted. (Believe me. I’m a supercarrier pilot.)
If miners are going to go into low sec to mine, they will need something better than a Skiff to deter the psychopaths that live there. A Skiff is a piranha in the high-sec sea of salmon, but low sec is full of sharks.
The Mining Fortress
Back when the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber entered service, it had a range far greater than the ability current fighters to escort. The Boeing corporation decided to mitigate this by placing multiple machine guns on the plane to deter attacks by enemy interceptor aircraft. It didn’t quite work as intended: enemy planes were able to attack and shoot down B-17s in bomber formations. However, the enemy planes took losses, and enemy pilots certainty had a harder time attacking US bomber formations through millions of rounds of .50 cal BMG.
Since CCP has said these changes are going through, why not give miners a nice carrot? Ore or Upwell could come out with a new mining ship designed to get at that delicious low-sec ore. No one is going to take a toothless Procurer with it’s 80 thousand EHP, or their 300 million ISK Skiff into low sec to mine.
Cue dramatic music and stern talking voice over (done by Kurtwood Smith):
Introducing the Pioneer, a new ORE ship class, designed for mining in hostile low sec. Based on the same hull as the Primae/Noctis (Wait a minute, Primae Noctis; really CCP?) /Porpoise hull, but armed enough to deter enemy attacks.
Armed with six heavy missile launchers, the Pioneer-class armed delver is immediately able to engage enemy ships that appear on grid. Because the weapon system is launcher based, it is always able to engage enemy targets that appear—no time lost to recalling drones. And while the Pioneer might not hit with the same power of a Drake, it is more than enough to deter casual attacks on a Pioneer mining fleet.
The mining ability of the Pioneer comes from five mining drones. They allow the Pioneer to suck up valuable Nocxium from low sec rocks. While the Pioneer, a Tech I ship, cannot match the Skiff in raw mining throughput, it remains competitive with the mining frigates. The reasonable drone bay allows for in situ replacement of loss mining drones.
The combination of drone mining and missile weapons allow the Pioneer to remain active in a low sec belt or anomaly, even if they are attacked by pirate rats. When attacked by other capsuleers, a Pioneer pilot may have loaded combat drones in the hull to allow them to pour more dps on if they need to.
The Pioneer possesses a strong shield tank, similar to a battlecruiser, for increased survivability in high-threat environments. The shielding systems allow not only for passive regeneration of tank, but also immediate shield transfers from friendly logistics ships that may be with the mining fleet.
The Pioneer-class armed delver from ORE is the newest and best ship for high threat operations.
End dramatic voice over
The Pioneer mines less than an excavator, but more than a frigate. It has 6 launchers, but because of lack of bonuses to weapons doesn’t equal a Drake in DPS—maybe not even a Caracal. It has the EHP of a battlecruiser and roughly the same cost. It’s a compromise that doesn’t take over any existing mining ship’s roles. And it doesn’t replace any dedicated combat ship. In short, it’s a combination of trade-offs.
I don’t mine, not if I can help it. It’s true I did some mining in a Rorqual in null sec. And I certainly don’t mine in high sec. However, I do not begrudge those who do. I can’t change the sociopathic behaviour of some EVE players, and even if I could, I think it would make for a dull game. All that said, it’s time to give the miners some teeth. When miners in Blair Mountain, West Virginia were getting the short end of the stick by the companies they worked for, the miners picked up rifles and fought back. The miners, and the side of labor, might have lost that battle, but they won the larger war. It’s time for CCP to give EVE’s miners a chance to fight back.