Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Eve Online Mining: Nullsec Mining, Part One

It is now the summer of 2016. Spent most of the last 12 months mining in nullsec, the topic of today's post.

But first: one monitor to rule them all

Am currently back mining in highsec. Have expanded the operation to eight characters working together at the belt - six miners, a hauler and a booster. This setup is used only in low-traffic .9 or 1.0 systems. Still using only one monitor but it works fine (22" widescreen). The hauler (Charon) and booster (Orca) windows are minimized until needed.

This setup is designed to focus on the +10% variants of the three main ores offered in that system with two miners assigned to each type. Each miner sorts the survey scan results by quantity - one from large to small, the other, from small to large and targets their assigned 'roids accordingly. If they finish their assigned 'roid type before another pair, they switch to the type with the most 'roids remaining.

Used a similar setup and the same technique in null, though without the hauler and booster on grid with the miners, as will be discussed in Part 2 of this series.

Nullsec Mining Part One: Preparation is key

1. General

Life in null is much different from highsec. Concord isn't around and there's a major difference in mechanics - warp disruption bubbles. Bubbles look a bit like POSes. When inside of a bubble you can't warp unless you're flying a ship immune to this effect. This makes navigating challenging as putting bubbles around gates and stations is a popular pastime in null (the bubble mechanic doesn't work in high or low security space). Also, ships known as interdictors can quickly place bubbles so your multi-box fleet is at much greater risk than it would be in highsec.

There are a number of techniques that can increase your odds of survival, but here's a really vital tip: If you're new to nullsec put an alt in Open University of Celestial Hardship and learn nullsec navigation from pros. It's truly open, no API checks, they teach you everything you need to know about nullsec through well run in-game classes and it's free. More information about 0UCH can be had from this CCP Community Spotlight.

2. Skills

Null will present two significant challenges: upgraded sov ore and upgraded NPC rats. With respect to ore, you will want to train for a Hulk/Skiff and the use of T2 mining laser crystals for Arkonor, Bistot, Crokite, Dark Ochre, Gneiss, Spodumain and Mercoxit. (Note: Mining Mercoxit requires training Deep Core Mining to at least L2 and Mercoxit Processing to L4, which will then allow you to use the Modulated Deep Core Strip Miner II with T2 Mercoxit crystals.)

Dealing with null anom/belt rats requires good shield tanking skills, a decent shield tank and excellent drone skills. You need to tank those rats long enough for your drones to clear them. This makes solo mining in null difficult without being that miner who whines for rat help (sure, your nice corp/alliance mates will come to your rescue, but that gets old for everyone). This is another reason mining scales well - the more drones you have to throw at the rats, the faster you can clear the anom of them. Use T2 mediums and consider assigning them to guard the pilot that's being primaried by the rats. The mediums main damage type should be matched with the rats' main resist weakness.

With excellent skills in both tanking and drones and a pricey fit, it is possible for a solo Skiff or Hulk (yes, a Hulk) to solo mine unless Faction battleships spawn, in which case you'll probably need to either warp out or call for help - but this won't happen often and ratting pilots are usually happy to come kill Faction battleships on the chance they get a good loot drop.

3. Finding a nullsec corp

This is the most important thing you'll do in preparation for becoming a nullsec miner. You want to mine prime nullsec ores in fully ore-upgraded sov systems with a security rating low enough that the spawned anoms will produce the +10% variations of those prime ores. Nullsec systems owned by player alliances can be upgraded to produce ore anomalies that contain prime ores. There are five levels of potential upgrades, 1-5, and each level results in a larger spawn - from small to colossal. Read this dev blog for more information about sov null ore anoms. (Note: Even with the ore upgrades installed, a certain amount of ore must be mined each day to maintain the spawn levels, and, the ore upgrades do not determine the variants of prime ore (+5% or +10%) that spawn - that is determined by the system's security rating.)

The above describes a prime scenario, but this is simply one factor to consider. Prime is nice, but in general nullsec ores will produce more money from your mining efforts than highsec, by about a factor of 2. If you want an idea of the difference, install Eve Isk per Hour and compare various scenarios. Other factors will weigh heavily in choosing where you want to set up your null mining operation.

There are resources available that will help your search for a nullsec corp/alliance:

Doltan Maps: Link will take you to the Universe page from which you can click to look at Regions and get detailed information, including Sovereignty, Security Status, Belts/Ice, etc. Find out who owns the various Regions of nullsec and which Regions might appeal to you.

Alliance/Corp Recruitment - Eve-O Forums: Use the forum to find corps that might interest you, read their ads, then do your due diligence (check their killboard, Google them, join their in-game recruitment chat channel, talk to recruiters, talk to current/former members identified by Eve Who).

zkillboard: Check the corporate and alliance killboard to see where they're active, how they're doing, what they fly, how often they lose mining vessels, etc.

You'll be looking for several things from a nullsec corp:

Buyback Program: Most corps that will fit your needs will offer an ore/ice/loot buyback program. You mine and they buy what you mine usually via contract with the raw ore in the station where you mined it. Very easy way to convert ore to ISK. However, you have to look at their program carefully as most buyback programs price your ore somewhere below Jita market so that buying your ore isn't a money-losing proposition for the corp or alliance. You must decide if the discount they offer is worth it to you. One easy way to do this is to compare their buyback price with the estimated value for that ore as indicated by Evepraisal.com. Be neither too greedy nor too generous. Be what you consider fair.

Bear in mind: Folks went through a lot of time, effort and ISK to establish and maintain the piece of nullsec sov they're willing to make available to you and it's only right they expect you to bring something to the table. Yes, thanks to fozziesov it's nice having miners around to help with the Activity Defense Multiplier Industry Index, but maintaining an alliance can be an expensive proposition, especially if they have an excellent ship replacement program (SRP).

Ship Replacement Program: Diplomacy is a wonderful thing, until it isn't. Groups have to be ready, willing and able to seize and defend space in nullsec. Ships are lost. All nullsec alliances worth a grain of salt offer their pilots a SRP to ease the burden of losing ships in combat. You may not think of yourself as a combat pilot, but you might want to re-think that and have at least one in-corp alt with combat skills so that you can participate in home defense fleets, mandatory deployments, or other CTAs (call to arms). Many nullsec corps will require that you have at least one combat toon that participates in ops. While you may love to mine hour after hour, day after day, there's a very good chance you'll come to welcome the diversion of a well (or even poorly) run combat fleet.

What is replaced and how quickly it is replaced varies widely, so you'll need to ask for details. Their attitude toward SRP can tell you something about how well they treat or think of their line members.

Logistics: You won't want to fly 10 Hulks directly to your nullsec home and you will need other supplies during your stay. Most nullsec corps/alliances are very keen on logistics and will be able to help you with Jump Freighter services. But this has to come with a caveat - it's an old scam to accept a pilot into a corp, tell him you'll JF all his gear to the nullsec HQ, then steal it all after he contracts it over. Really do your homework on the corp/alliance, make sure you contract only to vouched for alt toons or corps, etc. Ideally, if you commit to living in nullsec as a serious multi-boxer you will want to develop your own JF alts and have your own jump freighters. Having the help of others is great, but it's always good to know you can get mobile on your own if need be.

Intel: You want to find yourself in a nullsec situation where around the clock intel chat channels are buzzing with sightings of non-blue pilots. The importance of reliable intel cannot be overstated. You are a squishy target and if a non-blue slips into local odds are he's in warp to you.

In Part Two (link) about mining in nullsec will take a look at how to do it efficiently. Meanwhile, the fits below provide some idea what to expect regarding skills and cost.

Hulk Fits:

Group Fit (3 or more Hulks together):

[Hulk, Gurista Null Tank]
Mining Laser Upgrade II
Mining Laser Upgrade II

Survey Scanner II
Gistii A-Type Small Shield Booster
Gist C-Type Kinetic Deflection Field
Gist C-Type Thermal Dissipation Field

Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II

Medium Core Defense Field Extender I
Medium Ice Harvester Accelerator I or Medium Mercoxit Mining Crystal Optimization I  (depending on the pilot's skills or have one Hulk for Mercoxit and one for ice)

Vespa II x5

Variety of T2 mining crystals in cargo hold.

Solo Fit:

[Hulk, Gurista Solo]
Mining Laser Upgrade II
Mining Laser Upgrade II

Gistii A-Type Small Shield Booster
Caldari Navy Small Shield Extender
Gist X-Type Kinetic Deflection Field
Survey Scanner II

Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II
Modulated Strip Miner II

Medium Anti-Kinetic Screen Reinforcer II
Medium Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer II

Vespa II x5

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