Since the Ascension patch that brought about the changes to Rorquals, the ships have become overwhelmingly popular. It is a great way to pull in large sums of ISK in the form of ore, even more so with the moon mining changes. Therefore it is no surprise that hunting these whales of a ship has become a popular pass time. In a time when there are no major coalition wars, people are waging a war on Rorquals.
In the North
It is no secret that the Imperium has been plaguing the north with almost constant hot-drops. Their hunters are out at all times of the day and many systems have campers cloaked up. This has lead to a number of skirmishes, some saves, some losses, and some trading of capitals. Recently there was a two for one deal as SLYCE lost two Rorquals in a belt (One & Two), but were able to take down a dread in response. The full battle report can be seen here as a number of other ships were exchanged as well.
In the Imperium’s Backyard
The success of the Imperium’s northern deployment does not mean they are immune to these losses themselves. Pandemic Legion has been in the area taking down some whales of their own such as these losses (One & Two). Of course, not to be outdone, LowSechnaya Sholupen bagged themselves a Rorqual by dropping supers and a titan.
To the Dronelands
Up in Cobalt Edge, Hard Knocks Citizens has left their wormholes to liberally use their supers to catch kills of their own. They have managed to ruthlessly hunt down Rorquals such as this one who found itself with almost no backup despite having a PANIC module. However even valiant defenses have melted such as this buy two get one free where they took down two Rorquals and a Thanatos.
Down to the South
Lately the south has been a hotbed of action in the wake of Phoenix Federation’s implosion. This isn’t to say that they haven’t been able to mine and thus lose Rorquals of their own. The Bastard Cartel, an ex-PFed member, managed to lose one to a fleet of Nagas. Wormhole corp No Vacancies brought death from the unknown to a TEST Rorqual with a gang of Sleipnirs. And Legacy Coalition member Evictus had a two for one special that a Red Menace fleet snatched up.
Low Sec Space
While Rorquals have reigned supreme in null sec from the beginning, since the Lifeblood patch, low sec will likely have a bit more attention. Moon mining is extremely profitable right now. Rorquals such as this one will try to take advantage of that, but they make juicy targets, too. Apparently some people like to use suitcase Rorquals. This one was completely unfit except for rigs and died carrying a list of blueprints. It seems as though that alliance didn’t learn their lesson and a little while later someone lost a Rorqual with seemingly everything they owned. This pilot must have just purchased their ship as it was just the hull. And then there’s this one which is notable simply because of the amount of bling on it.
The Excavator Massacre
As you can see, these whales are being hunted all over New Eden and die in a myriad of ways. While these ships are in no way cheap, their prices have been dropping due to the abundance of ore they are able to mine. The most expensive part of getting into Rorqual mining are the drones you need. Excavator drones cost around one billion a piece and can be expensive to replace. As fun as it is to take down the whale, these drones are usually the real target for hunters. These drones are lost in droves as the list goes on for both the ore mining and ice harvesting drones are slaughtered.
No Country for Old Rorquals
No matter what happens in the coming expansions, it is unlikely that CCP will make changes that bring the Rorqual down from its dominant position as a mining ship. Nor are they likely to take steps to reduce the cost of Excavator drones. As a result, hot-droppers and gankers will continue to target these ships and their drones. What remains to be seen is what, if any, adaptations and practices the miners of New Eden can take to mitigate the risk. Maybe it’s already been done, and this is as safe as they can get.