Friday, 16 May 2014

Good Prospects

I love frigates.

I occasionally fly bigger ships, but I get frustrated at their slow speed. I appreciate the bigger armour and higher damage output of cruisers and such, but nothing compares to the ducking, weaving hurly-burly of frigate combat.

I was very happy when the Venture came out. I spent much of my youth stuck in a mining barge, slowly chewing asteroids into money. I don't regret that time. It was peaceful, and gave me some start up money for my later endeavors. But with the Venture, it became possible to zip around asteroids, and duck in and out low-sec for better rocks.

It made mining a little more exciting, and prompted me to go back to my roots and zap rocks for a few hours. Most diverting. But not that profitable. Eventually the militias called me back, and I was shooting Matari/Amarr scum for Freedom/God.

And now, the Prospect, along with all it's glorious low-sec mining changes.

A stealthy T2 variant of the Venture, designed to sneak in, gather valuable rocks and run again. And it has a spiffy paint job!

Never before has the idea of a ninja-miner been more possible. The co-vops cloak will allow it to collect it's ore, and pass through unseen to sell its pay dirt at a the highest price. Low-sec now contains rocks which are worth coming to low-sec for.

More importantly, the new materials brings with it new industrial possibilities. You won't need to ship so much raw material from trade hubs to your production zone. In fact, if you set your prices close enough to hub prices (i.e. keep them fair), miners will simply deliver to you rather than ship all the way to  Jita.

Of course, low-sec is still low-sec, and it carries the stigma of being a hive of scum and villainy. Completely untrue, but fear of the other has been a human trait for as long as there's been humans. As such, most miners, who look to reliability of income more than anything else, may be discouraged from coming to the grey areas of space.

This leads us to what may be the biggest problem of the Prospect: can you earn enough whilst mining in low-sec?

Well, what is enough?

At a guess, to be comparable to other forms of mining, 1 PLEX a month plus ship losses. At the very least, it should be enough to replace 1 ship a week, plus profit.

The PLEX for a single capsuleer's work may be a little too much. Most dedicated miners have an Orca flying in tandem, which allows them to generate enough profit. So at a guess, a single Prospect should be able to bring in about half a PLEX a month, plus ship losses or profit.

Current PLEX price: 790million ISK
Half PLEX: 395 million ISK
Income/ day: 13 million ISK

That's the bare minimum, not including ship losses or any profit on top. We'll stick with that. Actually, that seems fairly reasonable. I was earning about 10 million with a 30 min hunt for rats in the Great Wildlands, using a Stealth bomber. That's arguably the closest analogue.

So... can the Prospect manage that?

The Devblog mentions Jaspet being one of the more profitable ores, so lets use that as an example.

Prospect Ore hold = 10,000m^3
Jaspet = 2m^3

Prospect can carry 5000 units of Jaspet. Rough market price of Jaspet is 400ISK.

Prospect hold = 5000*400 = 2,000,000 ISK.

Not a bad haul! That means to make the target ISK, the Prospect will only have to make 6.5 runs to the belts a day.

Is that good? I'd actually argue no... which is annoying, because I wanted to be optimistic about this.

A rough estimate of mining times puts the Prospect at filling its hold in at about 17 mins.

Prospect effective mining lasers = 6
Yield/laser/minute = 93.75 (roughly! my maths is not checked on this!)
Prospect yield/minute = 6*93.75 = 562.5m^3
Time to fill hold = 10,000/562.5 = 17 minutes.

Then also factor in flying time, and avoiding pirates. An anomaly on Probe scan and a Prospect on D-scan is going to be easy to find.

And also the problem of what to do with the rocks once you have them. Again, we come to the problem I faced in the Great Wildlands; carting the loot to market. You've braved pirates, gate camps and beaten off the competition, only to have a 20 jump trip back to Hek to actually make a profit.

Ok, it won't be that bad. Savvy miners will start creating ore caches in fringe systems, and pick up their haul in an indy later. Even smarter traders should already be setting up in these fringe stations. But you can  bet these entry points will be heavily camped. And it's a lot of work for 2 million profit

I'll admit, my numbers are extremely inaccurate. But the results I have now aren't all that promising.

I initially started writing this as a cautiously optimistic rebuttal to Noizy's own predictions. But now the numbers are crunched, I find myself agreeing with him. I don't think the Prospect, despite its spiffy paint job, is quite up to the task of low-sec mining.

And that's a shame. I really wanted this to be the ship to be the backbone of low-sec industry. I just don't see it having a strong enough ISK incentive for miners to go out and use it.

That said, we'll see... my own maths is hardly water-tight, and predictions on a stable economy are nearly always wrong. There are also more regular sightings of higher end ores, which should supplement income quite nicely.

Needless to say, I'll be training up Mining Frigate 5 so I can see how viable this is for the solo capsuleer. Happily, my market partner keeps my wasteful activities well funded, even though I endure his ever-rolling eyes.

Also, it has a spiffy paint job.

1 comment:

  1. I too just skilled up and bought a Prospect. My plan for it is a little different than just hitting the belts though. I do quite a bit of exploration and I see high value ore anomalies, namely the holy trinity of ABC, as well as a few gas sites. On a slow day when I can't find my usual exploration goal of hitting data and relic sites I'm going to try to hit the anomalies and gas sites. Hopefully that will be more profitable than belt mining.