Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cold Harvest

I'm rather looking forward to the next Gallente Ice Interdiction.

It's so considerate of targets to restrict themselves to a convenient subset of available systems. Trying to whore killmails during Hulkageddon was very boring. Mostly sitting around waiting for the predators to show up and ending up disappointed when they went on a killing spree elsewhere. I might as well have been mining. It certainly would have been more exciting and lucrative.

During the last interdiction the Retriever was the ship of choice for ice miners when the blinky-red lads were lurking close by.  With ice prices going through the roof one could easily remain income positive mining in Retrievers with fleet boosts coming from an Orca sitting on grid inside a POS shield.  Selling for a bit over ten million at a pop, the Retriever paid for itself in a few cycles. After that it was all gravy.  Ice miners willing to stick their necks out rode the twitchy commodities market and made bank.  If a griefer popped Joe the miner's Retriever, he yawned, grabbed another from the corporate stack and went back to making money.

This year will be a bit different. With its massive ore hold, the Retriever has become the go-to high sec mining ship even when the black hats aren't out trying to shoot them.  And with the interdiction waiting in the wings, demand for the ship is so heavy that its market price has risen to over 27 million; a hair under the cost of its big brother, the Covetor.  Which means, of course, the Retriever's current buy cost exceeds its material cost by a fair margin, and corporations that manufacture their own Retrievers are at a competitive advantage over those forced to source them from the market.

Even if you're rolling your own Retrievers, the post-buff increase in the material inputs needed to build one has roughly doubled the financial loss represented by losing one to an ice griefer.  Which means twice as many mining cycles will be needed to make a Retriever pay for itself and remain income positive when the black hats come calling.  Still, when the ice market heats up, that's not a terribly high bar to get over. With careful planning the money will keep rolling in.  So, once again, expect to see the Retriever out in force come ice interdiction time.

However, I think this year's ice interdiction will be where the upgraded Procurer comes into its own. With better resists and four mid slots for protection, an alert miner should have a fair chance of surviving a gank attempt.  Meanwhile, its larger ore bay and a 200% faster IHU cycle (and in ice mining, cycle time is king) mean it will bring in the ice at a sprightly clip and pay for itself (~9 million isk, plus fittings) pretty quickly.  I'll have to look at the numbers, but I expect the ISK loss in ships required of a griefer in order to guarantee a Procurer insta-kill could come close to parity with the cost of the targeted Procurer.  No doubt someone's already worked through that math. I'll let you know.

For myself, I won't spend the interdiction doing much Ice mining.  I'll be out and about, though.  With luck I'll take down a few pods; a very different sort of cold harvest. 

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