The Hulk is the best at squeaking out isk/minute, but with ganking being bolstered by cheap and more powerful ships, it’s not worth it. Even if you are in a fleet having five $4 million isk gank ships can kill a Hulk before your fighter support, drones, or police can respond. Even if you have shield boost from an Orca. Since that is the case, I don’t see any value using the Hulk at $200m isk you cannot prevent ganking.
I would retire it. If you want to keep it for those of us that love squeaking out the max, you will need to at least double the hitpoints, especially with the more powerful Alpha ships.
If you mining from a Belt or anom - you want a skiff or procurer. The best tank and the best drone bays.
But mining inside of a Security Mission or a Mining Mission means you can break out the Hulk/Covetor. Because it requires combat probes to locate you. Keeping a eye on local chat and checking D-Scan can you advance warning of a threat.
People use Hulks all the time successfully, even in highsec. They have the best yield, but the smallest cargo hold and weakest tank. That is a trade off, and what makes both the game interesting and the other mining ships useful. If the Hulk was just the best at everything, why fly anything else?
If you cannot support (with a hauler) and defend a hulk, then you probably should not use one. Just choose one other ships with larger cargo or better defenses. That is a choice you have to make.
Defending a Hulk in highsec is just a matter of paying constant attention, watching local and dscan, and fleeing to safety before the bad guys land and can lock you. Solo that can be tiring, but is totally possible in a fleet setting which is where the Hulk shines. If you don’t or can’t mine that way, choose another ship. Eve is a complex game and just maximizing yield is not always the optimal choice.
i’ve flown a hulk for several years in high-sec withouth encountering anything close to a ganker.
there’s some small low-traffic pockets around with good mining opportunities, you just have to find them. it makes logistics to the tradehubs more difficult, but shipping 1,5 bil worth with red frog once in a while, definitely makes up for not losing a 200mil ship at times.
it’s just like the pub the local alcoholics go to.
you might have to move a bit away from the central clubbing location, low and recognisable population, but you’re far less at risk of being stabbed.
but nullsec is a good goal for a miner, as its far more safe, and allows you to rock the rorqual.
i’m loving it at least.
find a low-traffic rural system with decent mining opportunities, and you can go untouched for ages.
Ships in Eve are consumables. The question isn’t how much do they cost but how much are they expected to earn before they die.
T1 barges are generally better choices in high risk locations. You get 80% of the yield of an Exhumer for 20% of the cost. I haven’t done any mining recently but used to figure that a Retriever can pay for itself in about 2 hours. It was a great choice for ice mining where gankers are an ever present threat - simply build an occasional loss into your business plan.