Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wormhole Topic of the Week: Mining Fleet Setups!

As I gaze out my Hulk's bridge windows, I see a vast mining fleet destroying a millenia old crokite asteroid. What sights has this old rock been privy to? What battles have been fought near it, or even over it? If only rocks could talk.

But they can't, so I chuckle as the plethora of mining lasers break it apart into manageable sizes for my haulers to take back to the station deep inside my wormhole, all while I check Jita prices on my screen and mentally count my incoming isk.

So, while my Rorqual compresses and packages our various ores for shipment to high sec, let's talk about my mining fleet setups. I'd love for you all to leave comments about how and why you do things while mining.

To start with, I add my boosting ship to Wing Commander, either the Orca when the number of hulks and retrievers do not warrant the use of the Industrial Module on the Rorqual, or in the Rorqual when most of our members are on and mining with us.

Squad Commander has to have Leadership 5 so that they can boost the large numbers of Hulks that are on with the Rorqual. The Commander also has to not be an alt, as they are in charge of warping the fleet away at the slightest sign of danger. All fleet members are also directed to make a Recall Drones macro so that they can quickly attempt to call their drones back in the event of an emergency warp-out. If drones are left, so be it, the ships are far more important, and I'll bet some people have lost them attempting to let their drones get back aboard.

Each of our corporation hulks is outfitted the same. Three Strip Miner ones in the highs, Mining Laser Upgrade IIs in the lows, a Small Shield Booster II and an Invul II Booster in the mids along with a Cap Recharger. We fly with Low Friction Nozzle Rigs and Mining Drone Augmentor Rigs, for aligning speed and mining yield improvements.

Why Strip Miner 1s, you ask? I covered it in an old post, but I'll restate why I use them: Convenience. Every thing you need trucked into the wormhole is another piece of weight on the transport coming back in. Mining crystals do actually weigh a good bit, especially when you get a bunch stacked together. A fleet really going after gravimetric sites can burn through crystals at an astonishing rate. And if you want T2 crystals, those are an added expense and huge addition in training time. I decided that training Refining Eff V on all my characters was just too long of an investment to get those T2 ABC crystals.

The other reason has to do with those of us that mine with multiple accounts, but still lies under the convenience line. When a crystal breaks, you have to figure out which client it broke on. And then what do you do to get another crystal? Is your Orca in field with a load of them? Is your hulk going home to get more crystals? What happens when you need to switch to a different roid type? Yep, you've got to swap out all your crystals. And since all the ores except mercoxit are present, that's alot of crystals on standby, especially when you're fielding 10+ hulks.

Of course, I might find the time to get all these characters to Ref Eff V, and I might just start being anal about mining yields again. Maybe then I'll deem the expense of crystals to be worth the time saved. But right now, I'd rather it all be more convenient.

So you've got your booster, who should be sitting quietly doing something either afk or anything not involving warping, at the POS. You've got your haulers, either Iteron Vs, or Impels, or even transport fit Orcas. Whatever your choice of haulers, they should be quickly shuttling that ore back to the POS as quick as they can warp back and forth.

So you've got the operation going, but is it safe? Of course, in wormholes, your operations are never safe. An incoming K162 can spill nullsec PvP fleets onto your unsuspecting mining gang in 30 seconds or less. So you need someone to scan the whole wormhole down, every signature, and identify everything before you get started. Extra wormholes you don't know about can spell the death of all of you or even your POS, if you can't get back in.

I don't mine unless I have only two wormhole sigs in my system, which will be my known statics, and only if I know they are closed. At the least, an open wormhole will have to be crit and have a large mobile warp disruptor sitting on it, and at best, having someone in a cloaked ship sitting there to listen for wormhole activation.

After it's all scanned down and you are 100% sure there aren't any nasty visitors poking around, assume that there are. Designate a couple people as the DSCAN hitters. They need to have probes on their Overview settings, everyone already does have them cause you're in a wormhole, right? And they need to be hitting DSCAN as much as possible. Like as much as the game will let them hit it. This means they should be your lone miners, with no alts. You can't rely on the haulers, they are passing through too much of the system and may miss what goes on next to you while they are more than 14 AU from you. So it has to be one of your solo miners, banging away on DSCAN, because YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT!

If you don't believe me, you can reference my old post whereupon I lost three hulks, a Covetor, and all four pods.

Your hauler choice depends on how many mining vessels you have going at the field. If you have four or five, an Iteron V or an Impel, or your Deep Space Transport of choice for the 38k cargo space. Your hauler should neve hang out in the field, and should either be continually making hte back and forth trip to your X-Large Ship Assembly Array and the field, or waiting til there's a full can in the field.

I have been using our Orca to haul lately, and I know I cautioned against it before. I still caution against it. Unless you have multiple people hitting their DSCANs and enough mining ships crushing roids to start stacking up cans your hauler can't handle, then you shouldn't use an Orca. I have mine warp stabbed and a cloak.

I've been reading a certain stealth bomber blog lately and the pilot, Chessur, looks down upon wormhole denizens who jetcan mine. In this, I tend to agree, especially after reading his stories of popping the cans of miners after he's killed them. So I'm going to adjust my hauling capacity from now on to make sure I'm not stacking up cans, as I have done in the past. Hence one of the reason I've began using my hauling Orca in the field with us. If you don't have a hauler that can keep your cans empty, it's probably not a good idea to be mining in a wormhole at all.

The risk of losing both your ship and what you've mined are too great.

A note to close out this post. If you haven't heard the latest forum flame going on, it has come to light that there has been talk of taking the ABC ores out of wormholes. Whether this is true or not, I advise you all to weigh in on the discussion at this forum post about it. You can find my opinions on it there.

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