Orcas or barges?

I’m mining in HS (0.5 system) with two Orcas, and I’m wondering if it’s really the right choice of ship, compared to other setups like double barges or Orca+barge.

I understand that on paper, barges have much better yield, but they also require more hauling and more attention (laser cycles, ore hold, etc…). Personally, I like AFK mining a lot, because I don’t enjoy the “minute-to-minute” gameplay loop of mining, what I enjoy is the long-term payoff. So I currently just park my Orcas in the belts, put one drone per rock and let the clients open on a secondary monitor, waiting for Aura to tell me a roid has depleted.

I’m not sure I could really endure having to put more attention than that into it, but that’s of course with the Orca’s yields in mind. So I guess my question would be, is there a better “sweet spot” than the Orca, in terms of balancing keyboard time with yield, as well the gank factor?

An orca plus a hulk would outmine two orca’s and the time saved from not having to haul back in would most likely end up being more efficient than two barges. Plus with the orca boosting the hulk you will gain more m3/second.

No, there is not. You can however still tweak your orcas to maximise yield at the expense of a little AFK-time.

Firstly, if you are flying in 0.5 anyway, concentrate on moon ore belts for the biggest rocks in the game. That allows you to implement the next point which is to maximise yield for as long as possible.

Secondly, put your full flight of drones on a single (large) rock and stay at 1km distance to minimise drone travel time. If concentrating on the 100k+ m3 rocks from moons you can still ignore ie be AFK for an hour or more.

Three, use augmented drones; with fully rigged orca [2 x T2 + 1 x T1 drone mining rigs] it does make a difference to yield. However, NPCs will take out your drones in 0.5 if you ignore them. So, fly 9 x aug plus 1 X T2 combat, not the full 10.

Bottom line, dual boxing with a barge or exhumer is not AFK-friendly. However, I’ve just been trialling it with a fail-fit covetor and the combined yield when boosted by my orca is vastly superior than two orcas would be. And that is just using T1 strips with no mining implants on the barge pilot.

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You got two good answers, I’m just going to paraphrase.
You really can’t AFK mine an exhumer, so you have to decide what the real goal is.
If the goal is AFK income keep the two orcas.
If you are willing to “actively” mine you can perhaps triple your yield with an orca + exhumer setup.

You can’t really afk mine with orca boosted hulks. You need to empty the ore hold too much.

Repeat after me mining AFK will lose you drones will lose you very expensive drones don’t do it mining AFK will lose your ships don’t do it mining AFK. Is a bad idea don’t do it