In CCP’s July Update, there was a number of encouraging updates and teasers. I was especially excited about the fact that CCP actually listened to the community regarding the Blood Raider Shipyard issue. They even said they planned on making changes to void bombs, which effectively nerfs Citadels and will allow more doctrines to be usable against them. However, there was something that struck me and as interesting. There were no Rorqual or industry ship changes mentioned even with the upcoming refineries and the massive material wealth entering the game. Let me explain.
Why this Matters
Unless CCP has an update coming that they haven’t shared, they apparently don’t seem to notice a huge oversight with their Upwell Moon Mining Refinery concept. Assuming the general mindset for a majority of players remains the same, the complexes will see significant use in Nullsec, but almost none in Lowsec. Lowsec rarely has mining operations anyway as it is, and yet CCP plans on making it necessary for Lowsec moons to be mined? A friend pointed out that the most likely outcome is that the Aussie Timezone will become the most active for using these structures. The most efficient system will be to wait until maybe 30 mins or less before downtime. Then, simultaneously log in a large mining fleet, and race against the clock and mine the moon ore with the cover of downtime approaching providing a protective barrier.
This does not mean there will be no security fleets posted to protect these mining fleets. However, the main problem will be mustering the numbers to get the fleets to take advantage of the moon chunks. This is because people are afraid of losing their ships. A majority of the player-base does not have the cultural infrastructure to make this a viable reality in Lowsec as many do in Null.
This does not mean that refineries are a bad idea. Far from it. I personally find them to be one of the more interesting ones that CCP has had in the time I’ve been playing and look forward to seeing how they work out. Short of Planetary Interaction or working the market, passive ISK acquisition is not a good thing. Especially since the moon mining is almost always a large group operation, this change is for the better. But to truly capitalize on this change, CCP needs to give the ships that are meant to be used for this operation an incentive to be risked. The solution that I and a few friends came up with was that two things should happen. The Rorqual needs to be treated like the capital it is, and mining Subcaps need to be given some serious love.
Rorqual: Mythical Beast Unleashed
We are not the first to come up with this concept. However, this idea has been barely discussed in the greater Eve community. Rorquals right now are too passive. They are also the other half of the insane income problem that CCP tried to partially curb with the carrier fighter nerf last month, even if they don’t seem to realize it yet. If CCP treated Rorquals like they were actually industry carriers, they would no longer be so passive.
The Rorqual is mechanically a FAX, a Dreadnaught, and a Carrier, just for Industry. CCP should give the Rorqual a fighter bay and change Excavator Drones into flights of Mining Fighters. Obviously, these mining fighters would need to have the speed and DPS mechanic style of normal fighters as well as give them ore hold that can be visually monitored. They could come up with some kind of advanced mining “missile” attack. And instead of using regular drones, I feel that the Rorqual deserves to have actual fighters for its DPS. One way this loadout could look like would be they could have 3 fighter tubes, but only field 2 DPS fighter wings, and maybe one support fighter.
Altogether, these changes would make mining with Rorquals a dedicated activity that would be difficult to manage and cannot be simply passively done. Not only that but if these fighters were given similar boosts to their speed, it would be beneficial to Rorqual pilots in getting their drones back safely. As an added bonus, making the Rorqual required to use fighters would remove the current usage of the Capital Drone Mining Augmentor I & II rigs, making the Rorqual more of a balanced support ship.
Another concept a friend came up with that would make the Rorqual more useful as an industry dreadnaught, is a kind of “Mining Doomsday”. Similar to the Lance or Reaper Titan Doomsdays, this could have some kind of +50% mining bonus to mining lasers on those specific asteroids for a limited time. This would allow for them to be especially useful to larger fleets rather than just providing boosts. A combination of fighter mechanics and a doomsday would treat the Rorqual like the Capital Beast that it is rather than a glorified Subcap leftover from before the Citadel Expansion.
Barges and Exhumer buffs
Here are some options to discuss as a community. The motto here should be “They shouldn’t die less, they should die less quickly.” The following options would be to make the mining barges and exhumers less of an intentionally weak line of ships, rather make them more like genuine assets that would be marketed for their usability to the industrialists who would buy them. None of the following options are mutually exclusive. I simply like to present these topics to the greater Eve community to discuss, and hopefully get the cogs in CCP heads turning.
Option 1: Control of intel. Give some or all of the barges and exhumers the ability to not show up on Dscan. This would force people who are hunting them down to actually have to work for it, especially in lower security space. The Mackinaw would be the ideal candidate for this kind of treatment at least, as its large ore bay gives it a very independent feel. Another option for other ships (such as the Hulk) would be the ability to change what you see on Dscan for itself. It could pretend to be an Orca, skiff, or even an interceptor.
Option 2: Not a Frigate. Honestly, barges/exhumers are glorified frigates when it comes to their stats and fitting abilities currently. They deserve better. A way to do this would be to buff up all their tanks and give them basic cruiser level PG and CPU. This option could be combined with any of the others listed here. What this could look like would be to give the Retriever and the Covetor the tank of the Procurer. Then make the Procurer as tanky as the Porpoise.
For the Exhumers, make the Mackinaw and the Hulk roughly as tanky as the Procurer is currently but with the T2 resists. Give the Skiff more hull, which combined with cruiser like fittings will give it a modest tank boost. The Orca and the Porpoise should be left as is since their roles are very solid and they are in a good place right now mechanically.
Lastly, it would be useful to give all the barges/exhumers strong bonuses to their drone hitpoints, but not their drone DPS beyond what it is currently. An easy example of a ship that already has this would be the Astero. The idea here would be to make them more akin to turtles, rather than porcupines. Right now they’re shrews.
Option 3: Tank based on System Security Status. Give barges and exhumers more powerful tank and other bonuses the lower the security status of the system they are in. Yes, you read that correctly. My friend came up with this during a late night discussion and I feel it is probably the most brilliant of all of these options.
For example, maybe the Machinaw could get a Dscan immunity in Lowsec and better tank in null. The Hulk could get mining and tank in Lowsec and better cargo hold and tank in null. Maybe in wormholes, they could get more tank and Drone Damage. The sky is the limit here. Balance the ships to the space, not the ships to the universe.
If miners actually had a better bonus to their resists and EHP the lower security they go, this would significantly boost the bravado and concern facing people when being given the option to risk their assets. We have already seen some kind of mechanic along these lines with the CONCORD ships, so this could be totally doable. Plus it could be lore friendly by having ORE (a member of the Upwell Consortium) give a new bonus to Capsuleer ships that are designed to encourage them to be more adventurous.
As mentioned previously, Lowsec seriously has a problem when it comes to industry. Right now the only thing that is happening on a grand scale are the POS towers mining moons. Once those are gone, changes like these would be sorely needed. The idea with these changes would be to make the Rorqual more useful, and the mining ships a less suicidal option. While Gankers will whine about any buffs to the tank of mining ships, they can simply outsmart the mechanics given enough time (stealth bombers being used to gank freighters, anyone?). These proposed changes wouldn’t make these ships overpowered. It would simply make them worth their price tags. They need to not die less, but less instantly.
The refinery’s defenses are not going to be enough to incentivize most players to risk mining in Lowsec and even Null in some cases. Hopefully, CCP will notice this oversight with their plan far before the Winter Expansion. If nothing else, my friends and I hope to have provided interesting topics of discussion that could hopefully reach CCP’s ears. Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing what CCP has in store.