Day 834: AeonOfTime’s biggest ship yet

Putting aside the fact that the Orca in EVE Online has none of the aggressive traits of its earth-dwelling sea mammal counterpart, it is indeed good news. When the new ship was announced, I was very enthusiastic about a new ship class that was obviously targeted to gang mining as well as corporation support and transport. Aeon himself already had all the required skills being a part-time miner, but having him fly the ship would have defeated the purpose of gang mining with Loreena. She had zero mining skills to start with, so it was more logical timewise to have her train for it than for a Hulk. To make sure I was not plunging head-on into a fool’s errand, I set up a client to play on the Singularity server and had Aeon testdrive the ship. My first impression was that for an industrial ship, it looked pretty sleek. A short trip outside the station showed that it was slow, which was to be expected… The rest was pure bliss though. I was not able to test everything, but as there were a lot of other pilots on to test the ship the local chatter answered my initial needs for information.

I started Loreena to train all the prerequisites, which incidentally means she can now also fly mining barges, which is a plus. By the time she had all the required skills a few Orcas were available on market, but as usual with new items at prices beyond reason – some even above 1 billion (the BPO price). From then on, it meant waiting. A friend of mine active in capital ships production told me they would eventually settle around 450 mil depending on mineral prices, so I gave it my best shot at patience. I had been mining for quite a while before that, and liquidating some unused assets catapulted Aeon’s wallet up to an all-time record of 1.1 billion, which did not exactly help the patience bit. It was only about finding my breaking point from there.

I observed the price evolution, and the decision was quickly made when I saw one for 630 million ISK. I made a few inter-regional pricechecks and eventually bought the ship right in Lustrevik, next door to Syrkos Technologies‘ headquarters. A trip to Jita would only have saved a few million, so I decided those 20+ jumps were not worth the trouble. Still quite a ways off the 450 mil mark, but it was good enough for me. Besides, having all that ISK in the wallet made me nervous, with all the other shiny stuff I could buy. Incidentally, it made me realize that Heimatar is quite a competitive market compared to Jita. Rens is often cheaper for tech 2 modules than Jita, if not on par with going prices there. Not enough to make a lot of profit, but enough to make it feel good to live in the area and know Jita is not the holy grail.

There was something thrilling about buying something that big after the Abaddon almost a year ago. I logged in Loreena, and checked the price three times to make sure there was the right number of zeroes in it (not that a missing zero would have been an issue). Then the market deliveries window refreshed and there it was, together with some Frozen Food, Frozen Plant Seeds, a bit of Wheat and 70 Tourists that were probably amazed by the huge packaged ship. I did not check if any of the frozen seeds disappeared, but I for one would surely have made myself some popcorn to watch the ship being assembled. For the first time in quite a while, christening the ship felt meaningful, and reminded me of the joy from my first acquisitions. After an albeit impatient solemn moment, Loreena was in space in the “Tatonka” (from the root Native American, meaning “large bull”) and en route to Sytek’s Lustrevik headquarters for a short fitting session. After whipping on a hasty fitting, Loreena warped out to an empty moon and together with a few corp members, we tested the ship’s functions.

Impressive, dr Watson

First off, the ship is huge. As usual in EVE you won’t realize this to its full extent until you see some other ships next to it – even battleships are relatively small compared to the Orca. As a mostly highsec pilot, it is refreshing to have a “heavyweight” ship other than the existing freighters allowed to fly around there. Especially since the Rorqual and all the battle-oriented capital ships are restricted to low- and nullsec. Beyond the mere aesthetic points, what seduced me is primarily the solid mining gang support. A lot of players thinking of buying an Orca crunch numbers like how long they will have to mine to get back the cost of the ship, but I have a much more pragmatic approach: I take decisions by gut. Otherwise I would probably not have bought it, and missed a lot of fun. Friends of the pew-pew will doubtlessly wonder behind which asteroid the fun in this might be hiding, but sitting in a belt with that ship is just awesome. Loreena keeps it within 1.500 metres of Aeon’s Hulk, that way Aeon can move his mined ore directly into the Orca’s corporation hangar without even having to drop a jetcan. Try stealing that ore 🙂

Here is a quick overview of the Orca:

  • 250% tractor beam range bonus (~71 km), 1000 m/s speed
  • 500% survey scanner range bonus
  • 5% cargo bonus per level
  • 3% gang modules bonus per level
  • Transportation: 81.588 m3 with 2 x Expanded Cargohold II and 3x Cargohold Optimization I rigs at my current ICS II
  • Transportation: 40.000 fixed corporation hangar space on top of raw cargo space
  • Transportation: 400.000 m3 for assembled ships with rigs (so up to BC size)
  • Full-fledged command ship, can fit all gang modules
  • Can fit three gang modules out of the box
  • Corporate hangars that can be accessed by up to 10 members simultaneously
  • Fitting and storing / undocking ships in space with the ship maintenance bay
  • Docking/undocking ships in space
  • Not easy to gank (10.750 Shield / 6.900 Armor / 46.000 Structure without skills)
  • Limitation: Ships in ship maintenance bay can only carry charges in their cargohold, no regular cargo
  • Limitation: Maintenance bay can only carry assembled ships

The gang modules make Aeon’s often short mining sessions a lot more profitable (with a theoretical maximum yield bonus of 45 to 50% depending on skills and implants). There are three Mining Foreman modules:

Of course these bonuses are subject to the related Leadership skills and ship bonuses. Loreena currently gets 10.6% from all three with Mining Director V. On Tatonka I use 2 x Laser Optimization and 1 x Field Enhancement as I have no need for the capacitor bonus. I could go for all-out cycle duration, but being able to mine up to 18 kms away without moving around is worth it. What I also like about the ship is that it is not an easily gankable ship. You need a lot of firepower to take one down even without any defensive modules installed. I am not keen on losing the ship though, so following some recommendations I always have a Damage Control II fitted and active. On top of that, as I do not use any survey modules or midslots at all I fitted a permarun Large Shield Booster II. Handy to tank rats… and more.

Of course it all depends on how you use the ship. My case is pobably not very widespread, with only one Hulk in the mining gang 🙂 With a ship like that, I prefer to be safe than sorry. You should not fly around with all your assets in the hold anyway, that is a gank waiting to happen. When I need to transport things I try to keep the total value not too high, and NEVER do it on autopilot. I have been ganked once before that way, it was a lesson well learned – but I digress, back to the topic at hand. Battleclinic has no way to post a fitting for ORE ships, so here it is the old way:

[lowslots]
1 x Damage Control II
1 x Power Diagnostic Unit II

[medslots]
3 x Cap Recharger II
1 x Large Shield Booster II

[highslots]
2 x Mining Foreman Link – Laser Optimization
1 x Mining Foreman Link – Mining Laser Field Enhancement

[rigs]
3 x Cargohold Optimization I

Beyond mining

Trust people to use it for everything it is NOT made for, but as a command ship the Orca is not limited to mining tasks alone. You can fit any of the available gang modules, and some players successfully use the ship as missioning support. It has a 75 m3 drone bay, which means it can actively participate in fights if need be, and it’s a great salvager with that 70 km tractor range and increased speed. It can carry all the ammo you will ever need and you can even store ships for different tasks in it to swap around in space. Want to change hardeners for the next room? You do not even have to dock. It is not exactly what I would do with it, but it is always good to think outside of the box… Which is exactly what some pirates did when the Orca was released. As far as I know they used a small glitch that allowed the ship to transport -10 security status characters into highsec, and would warp into belts, undock with ships from the maintenance hangar and gank some unsuspecting miners. That glitch has been fixed since, but it further demonstrates that as boring and repetitive that mining can get, you should always keep your guard up.

Well I think this about wraps the subject for now, I wrote a lot more than I started out for. As always, feel free to comment. I would love to hear how you use your Orca, or what you are planning to do when you eventually get one.

On a sidenote, Aeon really has to train Veldspar Processing sometime soon… 2 years into the game and he still cannot mine Veldspar properly, and that with the current market prices! Chribba, if you hear me, I know – I’m not worthy 🙂 Seeing how fast I can strip a belt on my own now, it is kind of depressing to have to leave all the veldspar asteroids behind. The ship and gunnery skills have gotten a lot of love lately, so I think it is only fair to focus back on mining for a month or two.

I have posted few screenshots of late, so here is a catchup collection!

Aeon's Status:
Skillpoints: 35.200.000
Level V skills: 45
Level IV skills: 49
Known skills: 141
ISK Balance: 61.000.000
Training: Drone Interfacing V

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