Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Low Sec Ice Mining: The Endurance

I mentioned last week I wanted to return to mining in low sec. Someone then suggested I should try ice mining in a shattered wormhole with an Endurance, the new Expedition-class frigate introduced in the December release. An intriguing idea. First, however, I wanted to do a comparison with my trusty Procurer to find out just how well the Endurance performs.

First Try At An Endurance Fit
The stats above are buffed with the stats of flying in a squad, with the squad booster giving max stats. That's because Wandering Rose, in addition to flying industrial and mining ships, also flies Claymores. When mining, Wandering Rose usually sits in the barge, with Rosewalker in overwatch in a Hound in case a NPC battleship wanders into the belt. But for those with two accounts, all that is really needed is an alt in a rookie ship fitted with a Prototype Cloaking Device I flying around somewhere in the system to get the bonus.

The Endurance is a nice little ship with the following bonuses:
Mining Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
  • 5% bonus to Ore Mining yield
  • 5% reduction in Ice Harvesting duration
Expedition Frigates bonuses (per skill level):
  • 4% bonus to all shield resistances
  • 5% reduction in Ice Harvesting duration
Role bonus:
  • 50% reduction in Cloaking Devices CPU requirement
  • 300% bonus to Ore Mining yield
  • 50% reduction in Ice Harvesting duration
  • Cloak reactivation delay and targeting delay reduced to 5 seconds
  • No penalty to ship max velocity when using Cloaking Devices
Did I mention that Wandering Rose has all the skills trained to level 5 and the only reason she does not have Mastery V in the Endurance is because she only has Propulsion Jamming trained to 4? So these are pretty much max numbers barring a command ship or an Orca begins giving boosts.

Because my fit is designed for low sec, I put in the expected fit in the high slots:
  • Ice Mining Laser II
  • Improved Cloaking Device II
  • Festival Launcher (with snowballs)
If heading for a shattered wormhole, or even null sec, I would replace the Festival Launcher with a Sisters Core Probe Launcher. The Festival Launcher is just present because of the tight fit and I didn't want to leave a slot empty. Honest.

The low slots are also pretty much as expected:
  • Ice Harvester Upgrade II
  • Ice Harvester Upgrade II
  • Warp Core Stabilizer II
The two Ice Harvester Upgrade II modules are present to maximize my ice mining yield. At least one WCS is expected, but I chose the tech 2 variant in order to increase my targeting range just a little bit. Since the Endurance can launch 3 light drones, the extra range might come in handy for targeting purposes. Also, the upgrade from tech 1 to tech 2 only adds around 2% to the cost of the ship. But if the ship fits the Sisters probe launcher, the WCS has to downgrade to a Warp Core Stabilizer I.

The mid slots might come as a bit of a surprise:
  • Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
  • Small Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender
  • Small Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender
  • 1MN Y-S8 Compact Afterburner
The ship is afterburner fit due to the fitting requirements. Also, in low sec, most ships will fit scrams due to stabbed farmers, so fitting a prop mod that an attacker can't shut down makes sense. But why, you may ask, fit the meta shield extenders? The way I plan to fly the Endurance is to speed/sig tank. The Small Azeotropic Restrained Shield Extender does not increase the ship's signature. 

In the rig slots, I fit two Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints I. I like fast align times and fitting two ensures a sub-3 second align time even when not flying in a gang. Another option for the rigs is to fit a single Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints II and then plug a EM-705 skill wiring into my head in order to free up a rig slot. Just remember that is for a max skill pilot. Newer pilots may want to keep the two tech 1 rigs and the cheaper EM-703 implant. Remember, this fit is for low sec, not wormholes. If going into a wormhole, I would replace the second agility rig with a Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I.

In the drone bay, the Endurance can store 6 light drones and launch 3 at a time. So in the fit above, I included 3 Hobgoblin IIs and 3 Hornet EC-300s.

Finally, I don't really think much about the implants, although I do like the WS-615 warp drive speed implant. By increasing the ship's warp speed to 6.32 AU/second, the ship can outrun anything chasing it except an interceptor. Of course, that's assuming a covert ops frigate is not in hot pursuit.

Basically, the game plan for flying solo is simple. Orbit the ice. If an NPC frigate shows up, launch the Hobgoblins. If an NPC cruiser or larger shows up, try to speed and sig tank. And if a player shows up, cloak up or warp off. If tackled, launch the ECM drones and hope for a lucky jam.

But what about the mining yield? The total comes out to 17.3 m3/second, or 1038 m3/minute. Add in an IH-1005 implant and the numbers go up to 18.3 m3/second, or 1098 m3/minute. Not bad really. But will the Endurance replace my trusty Procurer? Possibly. I discovered that in order to beat the Endurance's ice mining yield, I needed a better Procurer fit.

Revised Procurer Ice Mining Fit
Even with a dedicated ice mining fit, the output without an implant is only 18.5 m3/second (1100 m3/minute), which is not much more than the maximum yield I could get from an Endurance. The question is, does the Endurance's speed advantage and higher capacity ore hold make up for the Procurer's higher yield? Playing with the numbers on a notepad, I think the two come out just about even. The question then becomes, do I really want to put that implant in my head?

I should add one major downside to flying the Endurance in low sec. If a gang on a roam sees you on the directional scanner, they will go straight for the ice belt. No need to look around. In a Procurer, who knows where the ship is. The Endurance definitely requires more attention.

I will probably pick up an Endurance, just to fly around. But use the ship seriously in low sec? I'm not sold on the idea. The ship is possibly better suited to fly in the shattered wormholes.

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