Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Caldari ice mining recap

I wrote how I think that Caldari Ice interdiction is a bad idea, but to get better results, I went to ice mining myself in an unboosted procurer using T1 harvester: Otela: 78, Piekura: 23, Gekutami: 57, Vattuolen: 72, Hentogaira: 60, Hurtoken: 36, Wuos: 84, Osmon: 187. Almost 600 units of ice collected, worth of 173M ISK, about 15M/hour, mostly AFK. The first and most important thing I noticed is how easy it is to find ice. One of the Odessey changes is that ice belts are fairly small, disappear if mined out and reappear after 4 hours. Only 80% of New Eden's ice demands of that time can be supplied from highsec if they are fully mined. But they are not. Wherever I went I found ice belts in 5-10 minutes, which could be followed by hours of ice mining. Despite there was no interdiction yet and the prices already spiked, ice mining was very far from the theoretical maximum. To make it worse, the ice belts of Athulaima and Mitsolen were closed due to an incursion, and the rest still could not be depleted by miners.

This can be interpreted two opposing ways: one is that ice isn't an issue, therefore messing with it cannot be an issue either. The other is that ice mining is still a fairly casual activity that is ran by bad players who are easy to massacre and probably run away instead of adapting. To see that, I put a ship scanner to my procurer and checked what miners fly. On the surface, it seems the Goons have lost before they even started:
It's obvious that no ganker fleet has a chance against these miners. To understand why procurers and skiffs are untouchables, you have to understand how Concord operates. You surely know that if someone ganks, they appear and kill the ganker. But "when" makes the difference between success and failure. Below you can see how many seconds needed for Concord to arrive in different systems and states. There is no ice belt over 0.7 security.
System security Away Unspawned In belt
0.5 25 20 6
0.6 20 16 6
0.7 15 11 6
Every ganker has his own Concord squad assigned. "In belt" means that there is a Concord squad in the belt. That squad will fire so fast that the Catalyst can fire only 3 cycles, causing around 3000 damage. "Unspawned" means that you are the first ganker since downtime, the squad is appearing from the nothing. "Away" means that there is a Concord squad somewhere else.

To maximize gank effect, the gankers usually spawn Concord using noobships, then go gank. In a 0.5 system, a max-skilled ganker in a T2 fit Catalyst can put out 15K damage, enough to kill an untanked Mackinaw alone, or kill a Hulk, covetor or untanked Retriever with enough time left to lock and kill the pod. After the gank is complete, the ganker gets into a noobship and undocks to pull Concord away from the belt. This is very easy alone. It is equally easy in a squad acting as one.

However the "acting as one" was a problem even in the pretty experienced New Order squads, now imagine the mess that Goons will make. If members of a squad get lost during or after the gank, by warping to wrong places, by not having insta-dock bookmark and get sniped on the station, by going AFK after docking or by any of the hundreds of ways to mess something up, the result will be an imperfect pull: some Concord squads left in the belt. Now the next wave of gankers will fly into a trap: some of them will be killed almost instantly. Since the belt Concord picks the first aggressors, the fastest and most skilled players get removed, leaving the clumsiest to try to destroy a 100K EHP target. And this just snowballs, as every failure creates more misplaced Concord squads, demanding the next wave be even larger, creating even more misplaced Concord squads. Since a Procurer or Skiff takes a squad of 7 perfectly skilled and fitted Catalyst doing everything right, you see the trouble ahead with line Goons flying T1 catas.

But the Goons aren't lost, thanks to the stupidity of their targets:
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a Skiff. This abomination can be destroyed by 4 OK Catalysts and costs 200M. Below you'll see that about half of the modules on this thing are wrong. Before I explain why, let's get back to the Procurer mining barge:

[Procurer, Interdict this]
Damage Control II
Ice Harvester Upgrade II

Medium Shield Extender II
Thermic Dissipation Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Ice Harvester II

Medium Ice Harvester Accelerator I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Core Defense Field Extender I

Hornet EC-300 x4
Hobgoblin II x1

90K EHP against catalysts, 105 if you overheat, 130 if you also have links. Costs 30M, less than the catalysts needed to kill it. It takes about 10 average gankers to take it out, each having to waste about 4M in ship and 20 minutes GCC + formup while the "victim" will be back in the belt in 3-5 minutes. Procurer ganking is self-griefing.

Now if you fit a Skiff the same way, you get 15% more EHP for 660% higher cost. Whoever has 10 catalysts to kill a Procurer will have 12 to kill a Skiff. But the abomination above wasn't even that, it missed the DCII, had EM field, passive termic and so on. How should you fit a Skiff?

[Skiff, anti-gank]
Ice Harvester Upgrade II
Damage Control II

Experimental 10MN Afterburner I
Limited Kinetic Deflection Field I
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Thermic Dissipation Field II

Ice Harvester II

Medium Ice Harvester Accelerator I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

Vespa EC-600 x4
Hobgoblin II x1

While it has 10% less HP than the max-tanked, it is much safer due to its 650m/s orbit speed. The Catalysts will land way beyond optimal range and have no chance to catch up. A Skiff doesn't tank cheap and effective gankers, but outruns them, while tanked enough to make long-range fit ganks uneconomical. Needless to stay, most Skiffs I've met did not know this and were stationary. Skiffs have significantly better mining yield than Procurers, despite EFT says otherwise. They have 25% larger ore hold and their speed removes lot of lost minutes slowboating.

A badly fit stationary Skiff is still much better than these symptoms of terminal case brain cell degradation:
Not only these Mackinaws can be taken out by 3 Catas, but they are also loot pinatas.

How do you fit a Mack in highsec? The same way as you fit Hulks and Covetors. You don't! These ships have no place in highsec and when you see one, you see a dumb miner. Hulks and Covs can't AFK for longer period of time, which is the point in highsec. If you are mining actively, you should do it where the ore is much better: nullsec and WH. Mackinaws cost 8x more than Retrievers for +10% ore yield and 2x larger tank. They also belong to Nullsec where you warp out when neut comes anyway. The only reasonable choice in highsec besides Procurer/Skiff is the Retriever which "replacement tanks". It's cheap enough that you don't care losing it (only fly it with an empty pod). For this reason, this is equally dumb:
Those rigs increase the price of the Ret by 25% while providing miniscule EHP increase. The only tank a Retriever can have is DCII which changes the number of Catalysts needed to gank from one to two.

Last thing: dumb Orcas. If you are in an ice belt, this is the only good fit:

[Orca, Belt]
Damage Control II
Reinforced Bulkheads II

Large Shield Extender II
Large Shield Extender II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Mining Foreman Link - Laser Optimization II
Siege Warfare Link - Shield Harmonizing II
Third link or tractor beam

Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I
Large Core Defense Field Extender I

Vespa EC-600 x5

295K EHP omni, 315 if overheating. That's almost twice the EHP of a freighter and it can be insured to limit the loss to 400M. So can you tell what's the worst thing on this screenshot?
It's the Basilisk orbiting the Orca, costing 200M, can't be insured and paper-thin. Also can barely outrep 2 Catalysts.

So I'm not sure. The amount of ships needed to gank will definitely force Goons to fight against large amount of opportunistic PvP-ers. They will have lot of dumb miner kills, but they can't disrupt the ice supply. If you are a professional miner, I'd suggest having bunch of procurers and mining Caldari ice until the price returns.


Lucas Kell said...

"but they can't disrupt the ice supply"
They already have. The majority of caldari ice is already produced and sold by the CFC, as it's shipped in from null space they own. This is even more true since the ice changes as there's not longer and infinite supply of ice in high, and mining it requires moving when a belt depletes. Simply the threat of the interdiction and the stockpiling of ice for future sale has already increased the price of the isotopes by over 50%. This also has a knock on effect to the actual fuel blocks, which the goons will also be supplying. They will also be supplying both catalysts and mining barges/exhumers, both of which will be increasing in price (cata prices are already up 30-40% in some places).

You may take the interdiction as a failure if it costs them twice as much to gank a miner as it costs the miner, but the end result is not to get an efficient kill, it's to reduce the number of miners on the field, and cause other ice suppliers to stockpile in hope of a better payout.

Reducing miners is easy. Kill them. Efficient or not, they will have a reduced throughput of ice mining. It will also cause newer miners to think twice about mining there and move elsewhere. I know when I started, if I heard about miners being killed in my area id move to an alternate for a time, and that was before barges when we mines in cheaper ships.

Causing caldari ice suppliers to stockpile is also easy. As I said before, the majority is supplied by the CFC, so simply not selling the ice once delivered is affecting the price. That price increase will cause others to speculate on where it will stop, and so where to sell for max profit. A lot of people seem to be marking to 150-200% increase mark as a likely peak.

Noobie ice miners will continue to be the favourite kills as they badly fit their ships, but even if every miner came out with the best tanked ship, and took every precaution, the goons would not hold back, the miners would still get killed and the price would still increase drastically.

Bobbins said...

If I were to interdict mining operations on the first day I would attack the orca's these ships provide boosts and a large cargo hold for the procurers/skiffs. With these large ships gone their is no way to mine efficiently in a procurer as they will fill up in approx 7-8 minutes and have to return to the station.

As for the Mack and retrievers they are basically dead on the undock.

Bobbins said...

Lucas Kell
'The majority of caldari ice is already produced and sold by the CFC'
Have you a source for that or is it off

Lucas Kell said...

Yeah, it's called dotlan.
The CFC own the majority of sov null with Caldari Ice from the Caldari/Gurista quarter.

Bobbins said...

@Lucas Kell
'The majority of caldari ice is already produced and sold by the CFC'
'Yeah, it's called dotlan.'

You've made quite an assumption there. Mining ice in the same quantities of highsec would require a significant effort on the part of the CFC. Add to that they have been fighting a major war for over a month and are now going to camp highsec. I don't think it is realistic to claim that the goons are supplying the majority of nitrogen isotopes to the market. Although I do find it amusing the idea that goons are all secretly carebearing mining in some deep part of nullsec.

Anonymous said...


CFC had better be mining ice in the same quantities as high sec already, as otherwise, interdiction or no interdiction, there is going to be a minor problem with supply.

The interdiction has just moved forward what was inevitable with the ice changes....I am not sure that null has increased mining to the level required of them yet, due to having wars and stuff, and the effect has been dampened by the stockpiles of ice held, but, they are not infinite (like the ice belts), and an increase was just a matter of time.

What remains to be seen is whether the current bump drops back down til the remaining stockpiles clear, or whether it stays on its upward course.

Dàchéng said...

Gevlon, you said:

A Skiff doesn't tank cheap and effective gankers, but outruns them

Only if the miner isn't AFK. Most miners, including skiff owners (and you yourself in this example), mine AFK. An AFK miner can't outrun anything and must hope his passive defences will keep him alive until Concord show up.

By the way, how come you're mining afk, now? It seems like only yesterday that you were explaining to us why we should fight against AFK miners. Now you've become one? Were you wrong to think that AFK mining was wrong? Were you wrong to think that you could do something about it?

Landor said...

From Goon's perspective it is not relevant that cost to gank a Procurer is higher than cost of Procurer. What matters is return on investment when ice price increases.

It is very likely that price response to reduced supply is non-linear. If Goons will manage to remove 20% of high-sec supply, then ice price will likely skyrocket.

You should ask how much Goons will win from ice price increase. This will tell you how much they are willing to invest into ganks and if they can afford higher dps than catalysts.

I don't think miners are protected due cost to gank. Main protection still lies in availability of easier targets and there seems to be enough easier targets to disrupt the supply. Once only well-fit Procurers have remained on field, they are not protected anymore.

Besides that I agree with your thesis that it is good time to harvest Caldari ice - risk/reward looks good.

Babar said...

Bobbins: It's you who are making assumptions. Tons of CFC members had nothing to do with the war, and did not deploy for Fountain. Or they deployed, but still had moneymaking alts in Deklein or other regions.

I don't know how many CFC members do mining, but we have corps who specialize in null-sec mining, and our intel-channels work just as good for miners as they do for ratters.

Though none of us can say if CFC "supply the majority" of the ice, it's pretty valid to say that CFC certainly supplies a significant portion, and the vast majority of null-sec ice.

Gevlon said...

@Anonymous: Goons don't have to mine, they could buy Caldari ice before the interdiction and sell back for higher price.

@Dacheng: you can move while AFK: orbit the ice.

I'm not discussing the morality of AFK mining or miner ganking here, just the technical possibilities.

@Landor: Goons don't have infinite power. They don't have crushingly overwhelming numbers compared to miners either. There are 20-30 miners in every belt and there are about 5-10 belt up at the same time. That's 100-300 miners. If you need 10 Catas to kill one Procurer, Goons need to field 1000-3000!!! gankers to break them all.

Gevlon said...

@Babar: an icemining Goon is a very dumb Goon. Ore mining is much more profitable in nullsec.

Lucas Kell said...

@Bobbins Ummm OK.
Even while the war was in full swing, my alts continued to mine, and a lot of it was ice. Especially when you are at 10% tidi in a bomber fleet, running a few miners is no problem. Ice is great for it too, as you can easily see at a glance how long is remaining on a roid. I think you overestimate how much time the CFC has to invest in order to run things like the interdictions and a war on TEST. Most people were still able to steadily make isk.

The CFC alliances don't necessarily run ice mining ops for ice, but most of the time you (as individuals) can sell your ice in null to the coalition for about Jita price. They then use what they need for fuel, and ship the rest for sale. This is great because it means any alt can chuck a week training into a barge then passively produce income for you while it skills up for whatever you really want it for, without impacting your time too much.

CCP have said it themselves, the ice available in high sec if it was ALL mined, would only cover 80% of the sales of ice product. Bearing in mind that ice in high sec is not close to being mined out in its entirety, there is a considerable lump coming from elsewhere.

I get it though. You hate the CFC and the idea of them making isk angers you so. The short of it is though, if they had no product to push, they wouldn't invest the time and isk in bumping the price.

Lucas Kell said...

"Goons need to field 1000-3000!!! gankers to break them all"
Well they need 1000-3000 catalysts. The pilots can re-ship. I'm pumping 8 catalyst BPOs constantly on an alt to make sure there will be enough.

"an icemining Goon is a very dumb Goon. Ore mining is much more profitable in nullsec."
If you can ship and sell the minerals. Null manufacturers don't generally pay Jita price, and shipping and selling it yourself takes time and effort and active playing. When you are running PVP or PVE on a main though, mining ice on alts is super easy, and the alliances will generally buy all of it from you at a fair price. The rocks usually have hundreds in them in null, so just point a mack at it on each alt and keep an eye on local using the leader, see a red, group warp to POS. Each time you warp back you have 34 or 35 ice per mack, rinse repeat.

This can all be done on a 2nd screen while doing whatever it is you normally do on a main.

Gevlon said...

No, 1000-3000 pilots. Miners can reship too. A Procurer earns its pricetag in 1.5 hours, so even profit-oriented miners can ignore Goons if they can't gank him more often. Now add "fuck Goons" miners who reship into procurers instantly after killed, the costs be damned.

The point of gank economy is that such miner can lose procurers and be very happy about it, knowing that he is winning the ISK war and winning the human-hour war with 97% efficiency. (He loses 3 minutes, Goons lose 10*20 minutes)

Lucas Kell said...

A miner for profit who gets ganked, reships, then immediately gets ganked again is unlikely to want to carry on mining. Also the impact already means he's had to buy a new barge (affecting the market), and take the time to refit it (downtime on ice). The ganker just warps over to the orca hauling the catalysts as soon as hes able to ship up, and hops into a new one, fitted, ammo loaded, the lot. Gankers will also be going for pods, knowing that high sec miners like to keep their implants in, because it's relatively safe, while the gankers will have empty (or lowbie dps boosting) clones.

I'm not at all arguing against the idea that efficiency wise the gankers lose. But the wider impact of the price of ice and the price of barges will still be enormous, and that's where the profit is. The ice miners may be able to break even, rather than lose isk overall, but the price of ice, barges and POS fuel will soar. This isn't the first time this has happened, so we already know what the likely impact will be.

Gevlon said...

" This isn't the first time this has happened, so we already know what the likely impact will be."

Absolutely wrong. This will be the first time since the barge rebalance. Previously the T1 barges were crap and 200M T2 exhumers could be killed by 2-3 catalysts. There was no way for miners to fight back. They could only run and hide.

Now a miner can stockpile 20 procurers in a mining system and go wild, knowing that he hurts Goons much more than himself.

Lucas Kell said...

@"Absolutely wrong. This will be the first time since the barge rebalance."
The rebalance only affects the ease of killing a miner. It's still going to cost the goons less than 100m to kill a barge, and most of the time considerably less. Every barge blapped off the field will have an impact, and the amount of isk the goons will make is in the trillions, so if it costs them a few hundred billion to do, what do they care?

Any miner that is too stubborn is just going to get camped, keeping him off the field anyway. You said it yourself, it takes 1.5 hours to replace a procurer, so if you kill them faster than once every 1.5 hours, they are losing isk. The difference being, that once it's all done, those miners wont suddenly make trillions, as they will not have stockpiled as much ice.

How can you be so blind as to think the goons are going to do all of this without the ability to turn a profit from it? Just the lead up to the event has increased the price of isotopes by 50%. Even from just the leadup I've managed to turn enough profit to produce just over 2000 catalysts. And that's just from a small cycling of liquid isk.

Babar said...

Let's have a little reality check here. This is all fine in theory, but the real (EVE) world is different.
"The point of gank economy is that such miner can lose procurers and be very happy about it, knowing that he is winning the ISK war and winning the human-hour war with 97% efficiency. (He loses 3 minutes, Goons lose 10*20 minutes)" Basically no miner has ever thought this in the history of the game. Sure there will be a handful of exceptions, but the vast, vast majority of high-sec miners will not take any of this advice, or think in terms of winning an ISK war or anything like that.

We don't need to kill _all_ miners, that's a completely unrealistic goal and also unnecessary. If we can drop the highsec supply of ice by, let's say, 50%, the prices will soar. And since our finance team knew about our intentions before it was announced, you can be pretty sure that they have used the last few months to stockpile heavily. You and I both know that there will be tons of highsec miners in untanked (or even anti-tanked) barges, and many of them will simply stop mining. Enough to affect the supply.

Sure smart people will make a tidy profit by tanking their Skiffs and mining, but that won't matter much in the long run.

A miner can "win the isk war" against CFC, but not against the individual pilots, since all CFC pilots will be handed free Catalysts. So you can be sure they'll just refit and go back again and again, while a miner is taking personal loss and it's not very fun to be hunted.

Anonymous said...

If I recall correctly (and read between the lines of comments here and there), Goonies have been planning this since (ahem) before Odyessy was announced. Plenty of time to stock up.

Plus, it gives bored grunts something to do.


Arrendis said...

The other thing you're not taking into account, Gevlon, is the ability of the miner to relocate. And that, in part, is what you're already seeing.

Caldari ice will be interdicted. The early profiteering happened already when the interdiction was announced: people looking to amass stockpiles drove the selling price up, and people who knew about the interdiction before the original announcement unloaded the stockpiles they had. Prices have been slowly dropping again.

Don't be surprised to see another spike once the interdiction actually hits, but it won't come as quickly as some expect. A lot of folks will start to unload those stockpiles right away. Instead, the real high-point will come right around the 3/4 point of the interdiction, when existing supplies start to run low. After that, the buyers will be looking to ride out the interdiction as best they can, for a week or so.

But the miners, the ones who normally work the Caldari ice fields? They'll just shift to Gallente or Amarr ice - many of them have. After all, if Miniluv is going to be focusing on Caldari ice, they're not going to be hunting the belts in other parts of Empire.

And the bit about 'imagine what a mess Goons will make' of a squad of gankers acting in concert... who needs to imagine it? Miniluv's been doing it for over a year now. Efficiently. Effectively. Just because 'Goons' doesn't mean 'Fail'.

Didn't you learn that in Fountain?

maxim said...

I'm gonna have to go with the nay-sayers on that one.

It is indeed not the case of individual goons versus individual miners. It is a case of goons as organisation versus individual miners.

Individuals tend to lose to organisations by significant margins.

Now if miners had their own organisation, replacing ganked ships, that would be a whole different story ...

Lauren Idle said...

Lauren Idle - Skiff omnitank

This fitting is my standard max mining yield fitting, to tank a reasonable amount of damage. It is definitively not designed against a special Scenario, like 15 Goons sitting next to you in Catalysts (kin+therm only).

Not orbiting to get the maximum range, while sitting next to a Hauler to minimize downtime.

The screenshot must be taken just before the interdiction began.

As long as the number of Catalysts you need to gank a target is no issue, there is no safe kind of Skiff if you counting 2m for each Catalyst.