First glimpse at the winter 2012 expansion

EDIT: Proper Status Post for Winter Expansion is already up. Go check it for all confirmed changes in the coming expansion.

As Inferno has matured a little bit, CCP started to reveal pieces of information regarding the new winter expansion. It is not enough to write my usual “status” post yet, but the information released is already quite interesting.

Please mind that the numbers below are most likely not set in stone yet and are subject to change. The data are up-to-date on 21st of August.

  • Frigate rebalancing

    Continuing the efforts started in Crucible and Inferno, CCP is re-balancing more frigates in order to make them role based (devs are calling this “tiericide”) in favor of the tier based approach. Back in 2003, when EVE was just released, putting ships in tiers made sense, but over time it caused people to fly the top-of-the-line ship, while ignoring the lower tier ships.

    Already Rebalanced:

    Combat frigates – short range brawlers: Tormentor, Punisher, Merlin, Incursus, Rifter
    Attack frigates– tech I ceptors: Executioner, Condor, Atron, Slasher

    In the winter expansion we will get:

    Disruption frigatesdev forum post here
    Weaker version of Electronic Attack Ships

    Comparison tables have been removed – please go to the “status” post instead

    Exploration frigatesdev forum post here

    They will receive an additional bonus to mini-professions, rather than just to probe scanning strength.

    Comparison tables have been removed – please go to the “status” post instead

    Logistic frigatesdev forum post here

    Along with ships rebalancing, small remote assistance modules will get a slight fitting boost as well.
    Maximum remote assistance range will be capped at 28,8km.

     Comparison tables have been removed – please go to the “status” post instead

    More Combat frigatesdev forum post here
    The Amarr have received two rebalanced combat frigates (Tormentor and Punisher) recently, so all the other races are getting a second combat frig to choose from as well.

  • ORE Mining frigate

    While Navitas and Bantam will become logistic frigates, there is a need for a small scale, low-SP mining specific ship. The ORE Mining Frigate is still nameless, but we already know how it is going to look like:

  • DUST 514 integration

    Some details have been speculated heavily by myself in this post, and by Blake from K162space here. According to this news item, CCP is currently working on moving DUST 514 to Singularity test server, which means we will be able to test the integration pretty soon. Players are however concerned by the fact, that CCP claims it takes several days of downtime to connect DUST and EVE Online. Even though the task is rather complicated, I am quite sure CCP would not allow such operation to last more than a couple of hours on Tranquility.

    EVE Online planetary bombardment - DUST 514 link
    EVE Online planetary bombardment – DUST 514 link
  • Industry

    We can only guess what the winter expansion could bring here, because there is plenty of room for improvement. The recent addition of new alchemy reactions which allow bypassing Technetium was just the tip of the iceberg. We can probably expect some form of ring mining mentioned in the Fanfest keynote, or UI fixes and multitude of small improvements (especially for repeatable tasks). Another possible improvement could affect planning and tracking of an industry operation, which currently relies heavily on third party tools and Corporation API keys.

    Unfortunately at this point there is no solid source of information regarding Industry changes and we have to wait for a proper dev-blog. On a side note, I like Poetic Stanziel’s idea regarding Ring Mining in one of a his recent posts. Add some risk of ship destruction, and this can actually end up an exciting way to gather resources.

  • Graphical changes

    New ship explosions as seen on and previously in one of the Fanfest keynotes (thanks for reminding about this, @wartzilla !)

  • CREST API (speculation)

    This would probably be the cherry on the cake, because EVE API in its current form, even though very useful, is still lacking many features. For example, third party applications such as Aura can let you read EVE mail, but in order to send a reply, you have to log on to the game or use EVE Gate. CREST API aims to change that, and it will allow more of a read-write access to the game, rather than current read-only approach. So far CCP has only revealed Developer Preview of CREST documentation but it is lacking any specific details regarding what the new API will and will not allow to do. The devs made no promises on release date either.

  • New modules (speculation)

    One of the famous-but-not-existing modules that were supposed to arrive in Inferno was Micro Jump Drive/Tactical Warp Drive – a module that would catapult a ship instantly about 100km forward. Since it did not make it for Inferno, we can still hope it will arrive in the winter expansion.

  • New collectible ships (lot of speculation)

    Inferno 1.2 has brought a range of Catalyst variants, which will be most likely collectible ships (think of it like Interbus Shuttle or Iteron Mark IV Amastris Edition). I highly doubt CCP would add them as ships skins in the NeX store, but as long as there is no solid evidence to the contrary, we can’t dismiss it either. There is also a possibility that these ships could be available in specific corp LP stores. This way or another, the trend seems to already have started, and we can probably expect more collectible ship variants entering the game i nthe near future, allowing for unprecedented speculation (don’t know what I’m talking about? Just do a pricecheck on Iteron Mark IV Quafe Ultramarine Edition please).

  • Graphical changes (pure speculation)

    Vagabond might get its frill back.

Fueling the eternal War Machine made safer.

When you ask anyone who plays EVE Online, what the game is like, the immediate response is “EVE is a PVP game“. This short sentence is both true and false, depending on the point-of-view. EVE Online players rarely admit to the fact, that part of the game success is it’s player-driven economy. Those who don’t engage in PVP, and instead run missions, mine asteroids or make money in any other way are considered inferior and called “carebears” by the self-assumed “elite” players. The truth is, if EVE had no economy and everything was supplied by the NPCs, this would most likely hold true. Truth however, is not so simple.

The War Machine needs fuel!

The eternal conflict in New Eden needs fuel, and that fuel is ships and armaments, which players use to blow each other up. Manufacturing of most goods in EVE requires minerals. With the Escalation to Inferno changes (removal of mineral drops from Rogue Drones), and further nerf of meta-0 loot, the only valid source of minerals becomes, again, mining.

“Mining?! u kidding me bro? It’s boring as hell and gives no kills. And it pays almost no ISK. And Tech II ships that we elite pvpers fly don’t need minerals, right? They only need moon goo. Everyone knows that.” – said the elite pilot

“You know jack shit about how stuff is made.” replied the carebear.

“STFU*, noob! You know jack shit about PVP.”, said the angry elite egger.

*) Silence, I kill you!

Guess what? It’s our carebear, who is right in this case. Due to the Tech II manufacturing mechanics, Tech I items are still neccessary to build their Tech II versions. They are simply one of the materials used for manufacturing. What this means is, every ship in the game is made of minerals, doesn’t matter if this is Tech I, Tech II or a faction ship* Those minerals have to come from somewhere.

Without the carebears making ships, PVPers would fly Velators and Reapers and shoot civilan guns. We don’t want that, do we? Both playstyles are necessary for EVE Online to thrive.

*) faction ships are made from BPCs or require a Tech I ship trade-in.

Here come PVPers again.

Ganking can be a rather lucrative business. Killing juicy haulers in high sec is just as easy as anywhere else. The only difference is the presence of CONCORD, but it does not prevent killing. Instead, CONCORD ships only deliver a punishment by destroying the offender’s ship. Ganking can also be done for fun. Guess who’s the easiest target? Miners.

Mining ships are not even half as resilient as their combat counterparts, making them excellent prey.

“You forgot to add that carebear tears are sooooo delicious!”, said the elite pilot.

As a pilot who has been on both ends of suicide ganking (been a piwate once, but I’m teh good guy now!) I can throw my two cents.

The defense against suicide ganking is rather limited, except for simply not flying these vulnerable ships. Carebears have everything against them:

  • very limited EHP of Exhumers and Barges
  • element of surprise on gankers side
  • low agility makes it difficult to warp out quickly
  • Destroyers are cheap and powerful enough to blow up Exhumers and Barges
  • There is no defence against alpha volley, except for EHP

With that in mind, instead of whining to CCP for EHP buff, we can make ganking harder, by fitting the mining ships accordingly.

First, a few things that *will not* protect you:

  • Having friends in BS/BCs or even Falcons: because gankers rely on Alpha strike – the first volley which is usually fired the instant they lock your ship. This gives friendly pilots no time to intervene.
  • Active tank: neither shield boosters, nor armor repairers will help, exactly for the same reason.
  • Warp Core Stabilisers: because of long align times and quick alpha strike – this module is completely not viable for mining.
  • Drones: they will not have enough time to destroy the attacker, but if you fit for EHP and survive a gank attempt, Drones might give you a killmail 😉

Fly Barges instead of Exhumers

Players can easily offset the high cost of a Hulk by using a Covetor instead. With the current mineral prices, the difference between Hulk and Covetor mining output is not that much, but the difference in prices of these two ships is huge. Here’s two samples of a “Resilient” Covetor fit:

[Covetor, armor]
Damage Control II
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II

Residual Survey Scanner I

Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II

Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I
Medium Trimark Armor Pump I

[Covetor, shield]

Damage Control II
Adaptive Nano Plating II

V-M15 Braced Multispectral Shield Matrix

Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II

Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

Both setups offer about 12k EHP, which is… well… still not too much. But it is over twice as much as an untanked Covetor has, and it takes more than a single Dessy to kill it.

Please keep in mind, that mining in a Battleship is not a bad idea as well.

And if you really have to fly a Hulk…

Tank it as much as humanly possible! It will not guarantee 100% safety, but it will either discourage potential gankers, or even make you survive a gank (if bad guys don’t scan your ship before attacking it). When fitting a Hulk these days, survivability is the key word. Here’s an example:

[Hulk, Tanked]
Damage Control II
Reinforced Bulkheads II

Small F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Small F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction

Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal II

Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Core Defence Field Extender I

This setup offers 27,1k EHP, which is much better than untanked Covetor (5,5k) and untanked Hulk (9k). With someone flying a booster Tengu or Vulture in the fleet it might even be enough to actually combat gankers.

[Hulk, Tankit]
Damage Control II
Micro B88 Core Augmentation

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Medium F-S9 Regolith Shield Induction
Limited Adaptive Invulnerability Field I

Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal I
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal I
Modulated Strip Miner II, Veldspar Mining Crystal I

Medium Core Defence Field Extender I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

The above setup (credit goes to Jorma Morkkis) gives 28,8 kEHP (32,8 with overheat). It will be rather hard to get it past this point without the use of faction/deadspace mods.

But what about Orca?

Orca is usually used as a giant hauler with Mining Links. This makes most people fit Orca with Large Cargohold Optimization rigs and Expanded Cargohold IIs. These players score their own goal, because both rigs and expanded cargohold mods reduce EHP. Comparison is quite simple: Tanked Orca offers 278,8k EHP versus 64,8k EHP of Cargo expanded Orca. This requires many more than 5 Tornadoes to kill. The choice (and the risk) is, of course, yours.

[Orca, Tank]

Damage Control II
Reinforced Bulkheads II

Adaptive Invulnerability Field II
Heat Dissipation Field II
EM Ward Field II
Adaptive Invulnerability Field II

Mining Foreman Link – Mining Laser Field Enhancement
Small Tractor Beam I
Mining Foreman Link – Laser Optimization

Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I

PS. The fitting above has more EHP than a Freighter. 

Stay out of plain sight

There is one last idea to make mining a safer task: mining in Gravimetric sites and mission deadspaces. Of course gankers can scan, too, but you will notice Core/Combat probes on directional scanner long before the bad guys can warp on top of you. The rules are the same as for missioning/mining in low sec: watch local and watch directional scanner like a hawk, warp out at the first sign of trouble.

Use some out-of-character PVP skills

Staying aligned at 3/4 of max speed makes mining more difficult, but can save your life. Also try to have the destination station as selected object at all times, so all you have to do is press the “warp” button. Incoming ships are visible on overview a few sceonds before they can be a threat, but in order to see them, you will have to set up two tabs in your overview. Make one of them show asteroid (let’s call it “mining” tab) and the other one – ships (let’s assume its called “pvp” tab). When you pop a roid, switch to mining tab, lock a new rock and start mining it. Then go back to the pvp tab. Have the pvp tab open at all times. When you see a cruiser or destroyer warping in, just hit the warp button. Remember to have the station (the one you’re aligned to) selected at all times.