Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Eve: Harvester Mining Drone vs. Tech II Mining Drone

Many people are familiar with the game Eve which has you set as the pilot of your own ship in a very free form, do whatever you’d like kind of universe. For those abandoning the tutorial quest line early on, many hours are spent on wiki’s and “how to” articles catching up with the steep learning curve, but once you know what you’re doing the wiki visits become less frequent (though for me they were still necessary from time to time). For a player there are literally hundreds of options to choose from with major categories including missions, shipping, manufacturing, research, pirating, and mining which serves as the backbone of it all and is one of the more lucrative options available especially for those just starting out.

A Hulk doing its thing
The life of a miner
Mining in Eve is hardly what most people would consider fun and games, but for those that truly enjoy the micromanagement aspect of the game and prefer spending hours designing a custom fit for their ship to slapping on the latest module and testing it out, it’s a good profession to go with. Even in high security space it’s not without its dangers, but typically you make enough to replace any lost equipment.

The most challenging aspect of mining is figuring out your ship fitting. Naturally you want to max out your relevant mining skills (mining, refining, etc.) to get started and of course your appropriate ship skills will play a large role as well as the ship you’re using will likely include yield bonuses for having the better skills.

Many people mistakenly believe the mid slots on mining barges are rather useless. This is just not the case. Many drone modules can be used in these slots allowing your drones improved abilities that make them better in both combat and mining; namely the Drone Navigation Computer and Omnidirectional Tracking Link module. The faster your drones move and the farther they can shoot, the quicker they can cover the distance between your ship and the asteroid you’re mining thus increasing yield per second. Likewise rigs for mining yield, speed, or range are going to be excellent investments as well.

Once you’re past the preliminary setup and training you start getting into the more advanced aspects of the mining game and we’ll be talking specifically about drones. Drones are little robots that can be stored in some ships and used to help you in different situations. There are many different types of drones, but the primary types are for combat and mining. You can typically use up to 5 drones at one time (though there are ways to get more) and you’ll have to have your drones skill trained to level 5 in order to use all 5 (you get one drone for each level). Mining ships, especially barges are designed to work with even the biggest mining drones so you should be able to benefit somewhat from their implementation. The difficult part is figuring out which drones to use.

There are really only two contenders for the title of top mining drone; Harvester Mining Drones and Tech II Mining Drones. On the one hand harvesters clearly have the advantage in ore yield, but practically speaking Tech II’s have twice the operational speed (not to mention they’re smaller and cheaper) which you’d think would even the playing field. After days of searching online finding no satisfying results I decided to make a spreadsheet and figure the problem out for myself. I started by entering the base information for both types of drones and then started setting up a system that would automatically calculate the effects of different skills and modules in relation to the base stats of each drone. These considerations took into account mining yield, drone speed, cycle time, and optimal range as those are the relevant factors for figuring out yield per minute for mining drones.

the spreadsheet I made
The results turned out to be quite interesting. The spreadsheet allowed me to test several different setups (and the Eve Fitting Tool let me know how much of each thing I could actually fit on the ship). The most effective setup seems to be 2 Drone Mining Augmenter II’s and 1 Drone Navigation Computer I along with skill level 5 in Drones, Mining Drone Operation, Drone Interfacing, Drone Navigation, and Drone Sharpshooting with the only remaining factor being distance from the ship to the asteroid. After testing several common distances (0m thru 15,000m) in increments of 1,000m I was able to determine that Harvester Mining Drones produce the greatest actual yield per minute (Yield/((distance-optimal range)+cycletime

+distance)) within the range of 0m thru 8,749m, whereas Tech II Mining Drones performed the best at 8,751m up to their maximum operational range. 8,750m was the breakeven point between the two models where they’re both just as effective.

Because the standard and most practical approach to the effective use of mining drones is to keep them close, I have to concede the victory to the Harvester Mining Drones. I will say however that for those who prefer to use drones to get at asteroids that would otherwise be out of reach or for those that like to keep a flight of combat drones with them just in case, the Tech II mining drones still hold a great deal of merit. Whichever type you choose, I’m sure you’ll find them to be quite helpful in your N3rd C0rn3r.