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CCP has said that every ship is going to be re-evalutated so that there isn’t such a thing as “Tiers” any more.  Naturally, since Mining Barges and Exhumers are also ships, they would also be on that list.  So, in today’s blog they addressed this with the following statements:

Our goal is simple: each and every single mining barge (and their tech 2 variant) should have an appealing role, and not just be a stepping stone on the way to something better.

And showed us exactly what they are working on with the changes they had in mind:

  • New ORE frig: we want this ship to replace current mining frigates as low barrier of entry vessel, but also fulfill high-end gameplay expectations by providing a very mobile platform for mining in hostile space. Lowest mining output, decent ore bay, little to no resilience.
  • Procurer/Skiff: primarily made for self-defense. Better mining rate than the ORE frig, good ore bay, but capable of having battleship-like EHP.
  • Retriever/Mackinaw: made for self-reliance. Has the largest ore bay, similear to the size of a jet can, second best mining output but less EHP than the procurer mining barge.
  • Covetor/hulk: ore bay is identical to its current cargo hold, little to average EHP, but best mining output. Basically made for group operations when players have industrials and protection to back them up.

Now, given that a.) The industrial outrage of all Hulkageddons, b.) the fact that the industrial sector seems to think that there needs to be a pure industrial expansion, c.) that CCP just spent a ton of money and a ton of effort into a full scale war against RMT and Botting, and d.) that they pretty much increased the profitability of mining by a whole lot while at the same time decrease other forms of income such as incursions, reprocessing, and selling minerals off of drones, you’d think that there would be little to no pushback from the industrial quarter because, let’s face it, the industrial side has been given a lot of love recently… a lot of well thought out love, a lot of hard working love.  Even when things didn’t go well, the industrial side got its fair amount of attention to fix those issues too.  And let’s not forget about upcoming POS changes that pretty much made the CSM fall back in love with CCP this last go around.

But, unfortunately that isn’t the case of some of them.  Like a fat, spoiled brat who is crying in the aisle of the supermarket because Mommy wouldn’t buy him all candy, some in the industrial side seems to be poised, once again, to scream on irregardless of what really will happen.   It’s rather.. sickening to be honest.  It actually might put me off from training up mining because.. I really wouldn’t want to associate with those type of people.

CCP in their wisdom determined that in the modern Eve Universe there was a problem.  Everyone flew Hulks and sometimes Mackinaws.  The Hulk had become the holy grail of the mining trade, with a decent tank (yes, it can fit a decent tank, as all the PVP’ers have been trying desperately to instruct those willing.. and even unwilling.. to listen) and best yield.  In fact, it was so good.. that there really isn’t any reason to fly anything else.  It’s somewhat debatable that even for ice mining, if the Mackinaw (with its ice bonus) is truly better than the Hulk.  The problem also showed that ships like the Procurer were almost useless (some even claim that a mining Osprey can out produce a Procurer) and that unlike the combat PVP ships, there really isn’t any reason to fly the Tech 1 versions once you get to the Tech 2.

The Deep Thoughts of CCP

The thing is, CCP has got it into their head the notion that all ships have a purpose and a use in Eve.  The Mining Barge/Exhumer line pretty much worked totally against that notion.  The Hulk actually became the “End Game” for those in the mining profession.  So CCP decided to change that and to make every hull in the Mining Barge line worth something again.  Every mining barge/exhumer needed to address the following:

  • Mining output

CCP states that it is the “First and most visible balancing factor, plan is to increase all barge mining output to be within an acceptable margin of the Hulk, not miles behind as it is currently.”  So, from this viewpoint all ships will be close to the Hulk for yield, yet.. by this simple statement, it appears that the Hulk will still be top of the line for Mining Output.  However, instead of being the best at everything, the Hulk get to be the best ONLY in Mining Output.  By the sounds of it, the Covetor will be the Top for the Tech 1 versions as well.  So far, no one seems to be complaining about this.  However, the Hulk and the Covetor now appear to be getting a downgrade in cargo space and in defense.  Essentially, both will now be the weakest of the mining barges and while they will be producing at the same rate (if not better for the Covetor), they will need to be in a group to maximize their output effectively.  These two points appear to be getting quite a bit of heat.  And let me remind those that are upset about this about one reality of this game:

It. Is. A. MMO.  In other words, yes, it is entirely acceptable on CCP’s part to MAKE you work with other people in a game built so that you have to work with other people.

This has resulted in two forms of drama, one is the sudden disappearance of a tank and the other is the Ore bay, which may not use cargo expanders to get more space.  Yes, both are downgrades to the Hulk.. but you should have known this was going to happen.  The Hulk was just too good on its own.  Once you got one there was NO need to have anything else.  It was the one stop shop for all your mining needs.  But changes like this are necessary and let’s be fair, should have happened about two to three years ago.  Ship changes happen all the time.  It happened to the Vagabond, when it lost its OMGWTFBBQ literally game-breaking speed.  It will happen to all the ships eventually.

  • Autonomy

This is a new factor that CCP is considering, and one that I think is a good one to add.  CCP says that “mining barges should have proper cargo holds so they not always have to rely on jet cans (without turning them into industrials however). That means giving them large, specialized ore bays where all the ore will automatically go into when mining.”  This role is being taken over by the Retriever and Mackinaw class ships.  You might say that these ships are going to be the ships of the independent corp member, the one who wants to just mine quietly for longer periods of time while he’s watching the kids or checking out youtube, or doing chores around the house.  It will probably have the slowest yield of all the ships, but an average tank and after this update you probably could feel reasonably secure against high-sec ganks (.. if you actually tank it like you’re supposed to).

One of the things I really like about this is that it gets rid of the necessity of jetcan mining.  Every jetcan miner everywhere should be celebrating this change.  No more need to risk can flipping any more, those days will be past.

  • Resilience

This is one that I actually SHOULD have a problem with.  But, I really don’t.  Most of the Hulks that we hit during Hulkageddon were woefully undertanked.  So when CCP comments that it wants to consider this: “another point is to give some of them proper EHP not to be one-shot by anything that even remotely sneezes on them.”, it’s not because there was an actual need, but it was to help counter the laziness a large portion of miner had been afflicted with.  That being said.. I could see these ships (The Procurer and the Skiff) becoming a staple of low-sec mining especially if they might get paired with a warp stab or two or bonuses equivlent to that.  Because really their resilence in completely based on their ability to dodge so that they can get away, which requires the opposite sort of thinking than what is necessary for the Resilience of PVP ships.  I suspect that at least one, possibly both of these ships may actually get a +1 to warp core stability simply because they are meant to withstand conflict… plus, that is exactly what they did with some of the Tech 2 Industrial ships like the Mastadon.

Other Bonuses to Miners

In addition to the above changes, CCP is also dropping the tiers and making all the mining barges available to players at Mining Barge I.  They’ve said nothing about changing the Exhumer skill, but if these changes go through, changing the Exhumer skill may not be necessary.

The Wrap-Up

Here are the advantages the Miners will get once this change goes through:

  • All Mining Barges and Exhumers will be stronger – I suspect that the weakest of the Tech 2 Exhumers will be able to hold off many of the solo or even dual builds and will be much harder to kill by Disco Battleships.  I suspect that once this change goes through, that the weakest ship will be the Covetor and it will be the only ship that could possibly be killed by high-sec ganking.
  • Dedicated Anti-Pirate Mining Ship – Two dedicated, DEDICATED, mining ships that can tank.
  • Dedicated Solo Mining Ship – Strong enough to handle suicide ganks, able to haul a lot of ore, and not completely reliant on others.
  • Dedicated “Power-Mining” Ship – Your Hulk keeps the best aspect of the Hulk.
  • Low-sec Mining Solo Operations are more Viable – The changes to the Procurer and the Skiff will likely make low-sec mining a reality and not a joke.  Even if you just used a single WCS, coupled with a Battleship class tank, your chances of survival in low-sec will skyrocket.
  • Major Mining Ops will be more profitable – Minerals are still going to be needed, and now, because of the decrease in skill requirements as well as the changes in the ship design, more people will be able to participate, which means more material can be mined out efficiently and miners will no longer be an “elite” class that no one can join because you need a Hulk.
  • Null-sec Mining Operations will be more Useful – For the same reasons as it being profitable, now you can also mine MORE minerals locally.  More bodies effectively mining will mean better supply lines and cheaper goods in local markets.

and the downsides:

  • Hulks lose the ability to use cargo expanders to expand their ore bay.
  • Hulks are no longer the only mining ship you need.

Final Opinion

I can’t help but to think that essentially, this IS a industrial expansion.  And yes, I mean “expansion”  The reason why I say this is because the mining industry effectively got four more ships that they can really use  (Procurer, Retriever, Covetor, and Skiff) , and that are balanced and all are useable.  In addition, they got a new mining frigate.  The changes made to these ships now effectively open up low-sec space for exploitation, as well as makes wormhole and null-sec space more viable for mineral operations, and allows more players to be effective miners, while being more protected from high-sec ganks, low-sec pirate attacks, and null-sec sov raids.  And all this, for.. practically nothing really.

That’s why some of the comments that were written just made me scratch my head in wonder at home some of them managed to not kill themselves tying their shoes after they woke up.  Things like “How can the Procurer/Skiff have a battleship tank?  It only has one midslot!” (Hmm, and CCP can’t change that can they…) or “if u don’t mine in a hostile enviroment – for example High sec – why would u fit for tank? ” (Really, after five hulkageddons you still think that installing a few tanking modules to save your 300+ mil isk ship is a bad idea?), or “Now, I understand this from a balancing standpoint, but it doesn’t really make sense from a logical standpoint that the largest and most expensive of the barges/exhumers have considerably less ore capacity and EHP compared to the two others.”  (Seems you missed the part in the devblog where a.) Every barge is going to be equal and b.) That Hulks would be team.. ahem.. TEAM.. players and would be used with support).  It was amazing how many people could not get their head around that because CCP was going to even the playing field, that the requirements for BUILDING these ships was going to change as well along with the pricing (i.e. Hulks probably won’t be the most expensive T2 Exhumer any more..)

All in all though, if you as a miner aren’t jumping up and down with these changes, you’re either a botter.. or just doing it wrong.