Solo Drone Mining Barge - Retriever Redesign

(Lot of text incoming - if you’re not interested in the details beyond the title you can skip to the TL;DR at the end! If you’re also interested in the why and how, read on.)

I would like to propose the following changes to the Retriever (and also to the Mackinaw) to give it a more distinct role: the role of solo drone mining barge.

The three mining barges (and their T2 versions) each have their own roles, defined by their strengths and weaknesses:

  • Procurer: durable combat miner with high survivability, drone damage
  • Covetor: high yield group miner with high yield, low survivability, small ore hold
  • Retriever: ??? miner with large ore hold, low survivability

The Procurer is a clear best choice in situations where you want a durable combat ship while mining. A ship with a massive amount of health is very useful if you for example expect PvP, as combat fleet in dangerous parts of space or high sec near suicide gankers, against strong NPC belt rats or when baiting. While it only uses small drones compared to the medium drones of the Covetor, the damage bonus means those small drones deal the damage of medium drones yet with superior application and speed of small drones and room for a spare set, which means it is very capable in combat.

The Covetor is a clear best choice in situations where other ships can make up for the large downsides of the Covetor: the low survivability and tiny ore hold. With the help of friendly mining fleet support ships (Porpoise, Orca, Rorqual) you get access to remote shield repairs and a fleet hangar + huge ore hold to dump your ores and ice in, which allows the Covetor to shine as the absolute best mining yield barge of the three.

The Procurer and Covetor each have clearly defined specialisations and are a good choice in those situations. The Retriever less so.

The Retriever is currently a strange ship. It has a large ore hold. The survivability is only marginally better than that of the Covetor, which means it still requires support from other ships to keep it alive.

What is the role the Retriever supposed to be? I’ve used a lot of mining ships from frigates, barges, exhumers and mining boosters, yet I have never seen a reason to fly a Retriever. The large ore hold is great for solo mining for longer amounts of time, but the low survivability of the ship means it’s not really capable of solo mining and requires fleet support. But if it is mining with fleet support, I see no reason to use a Retriever when I could use a Covetor for the higher yield instead!

This is why I think the Retriever is in need of some changes to give it a better defined role.

With the large ore hold the Retriever could fit the role of solo miner really well, which happens to be a role that is lacking a specialised barge.

Additionally, I have seen people make proposals to get more drone mining ships which is something I’d like to see. We currently only have mining fleet support ships that mainly use mining drones, what if we could have a dedicated specialised mining ship that primarily uses drones? As drone mining isn’t improved by mining boosts, this means a drone mining ship would be really well suited for solo mining.

With the lack of a distinct role for the Retriever, the lack of a specialised solo mining barge and the lack of a specialised drone mining ship I would like to solve all three issues at once by turning the Retriever into a solo drone mining barge!

All it needs is some extra survivability, some mining drone bonuses and some minor changes to the ship.

Retriever Proposed Changes

  • New:
    – Role Bonus: 185% bonus to Drone ore mining yield*
    – Role Bonus: 65% reduction in Drone ice harvesting cycle time*
    – Mining Barge bonuses (per skill level): 2% bonus to Drone ore mining yield and 2% reduction in Drone ice harvesting cycle time

  • Removed:
    – Mining Barge bonuses (per skill level): 2% reduction in Strip Miner and Ice Harvester duration

  • Unchanged:
    – Mining Barge bonuses (per skill level): 5% bonus to ship ore hold capacity

  • Additional changes:
    – Minus 1 high slot (1 high slot total now)
    – Plus 1 mid slot (2 mid slots total now)
    – Drone bandwidth increased from 25Mbit/s to 50Mbit/s
    – Drone capacity increased from 25m3 to 75m3
    – Structure Hitpoints increased from 2000 to 3500

Mackinaw Proposed Changes
(Similar, but slightly better as expected from a T2 ship!)

Rationale of the changes:

Removal of one high slot means room for significant drone mining bonuses to get a total mining yield that is comparable to the old yield, but comes primarily from drones. I have left one high slot as that allows the Retriever to make use of the regular barge mining skills to strip miners, T2 miners and such, and also allows the Retriever to make some use of mining boosts, although it will be much less effective than on a ship that gets most yield from their high slots rather than drones.

With a yield that comes primarily from drones the unboosted yield of the Retriever can be increased without competing with the role of the Covetor as high yield fleet miner, as drone mining isn’t affected by mining boosts so the Covetor will still shine in fleet settings even though a solo Retriever can get a similar yield to an unboosted Covetor.

The extra mid slot will be very useful for a Drone Navigation Computer, but you can obviously fit other things there such as shield resists or a survey scanner. The extra mid slot could also allow for a scram/web for a Retriever bait or combat fit, although with less tank and half the amount of mid slots it wouldn’t be as powerful as a Procurer. It might be less expected though!

The extra drone bandwidth mainly allows use of an ice mining drone and also allows for more/better combat drones to defend itself.

The extra structure hitpoints means you can choose to add a significant amount of hitpoints to the Retriever with a full hull tank (42k EHP) for better survivability. However, this will be at the cost of yield as hull rigs, damage control and bulkheads come at the cost of mining drone rigs and mining laser upgrades. This will give Retriever pilots a meaningful choice between yield and survivability and adds uncertainty to ganks: there will be a huge difference between a max yield Retriever (14k EHP) and a max tank Retriever.

As the extra defences are not yet at the level of a Procurer and are mostly in hull HP rather than the more easily remote-repaired shield HP, the role of the Retriever will hopefully not compete with the role of the Procurer as defensive fleet miner.

*(For the role bonus numbers I compared yield of several fits of barges at max level and tried to come up with fair numbers that fit my intention for the ship. It is possible that the role bonus numbers need to be adjusted and are too high. I’m open for suggestions!)

TL;DR:

  • Retriever now uses primarily drones to mine
  • Retriever solo yield goes up (yet still below Covetor levels)
  • Retriever can have significantly higher survivability at cost of yield (yet still below Procurer levels)
12 Likes

This makes sense.

Also makes sense.

This is a pretty good idea.

3 Likes

Thanks! I often try to make sense. :stuck_out_tongue:

1 Like

Agreed :100:

The Retriever’s role is an all year long Christmas present to high sec gankers as it attracts those who want to mine AFK. Same with the Mackinaw.

I like your idea better.

But to sell the idea, maybe you should just suggest a totally new barge and exhumer? We really don’t want to upset the sand castle kickers.

New ship name proposals…barge…Flail…exhumer…Morning Star.

I don’t mind adding a new barge and exhumer specialised in drone mining, but then we’re still stuck with a Retriever and Mackinaw that are lacking a well-defined role. Why not hit two birds with one stone?

My initial reaction to an idea was "No way in hell", but after reading through your post I think it actually seems rather reasonable. The mining yield is similar, it differentiates the ship in a meaningful way, there would be multiple practical fitting options, and it doesn’t seem to “break” the ship relative to other ships in the class. These all seem like very good things.

The only real change I would make is to dial back the yield a bit so that a max yield fit Retreiver/Mackinaw is roughly the same (or maybe even a smidge less) before and after the change. The reason: with a primarily drone-based platform you sacrifice less yield when you go for a full tank fit. As your proposal stands now, you could end up with fairly tanky Retrievers/Mackinaws that are still sucking down ore at substantial rates.

Alternatively: dial back the max yield a lot and introduce new low slot mining drone enhancement modules. This is a much more complicated solution and would likely be a balance nightmare, but it would allow CCP to fully capitalize on the specialization of this barge.

+1. Some slight tweaks are advisable, but overall I think it’s a good idea.

2 Likes

Thanks for the feedback!

Yes, I am not yet convinced the numbers for the role bonuses are good as they are, maybe the yield is a bit too high right now and I did not yet do the calculations to compare full tank Procurers versus a full tank new Retriever. Going full tank will sacrifice some yield, but it may indeed be less so for a drone miner. Especially when you can easily fit bulkheads and damage control in the lows without much sacrifice to total yield.

I like the idea of a low slot mining drone enhancement module, but I’m afraid it would add too much of a mess to balance. Orcas and Rorquals have a lot of low slots. :stuck_out_tongue:

The Retriever is fine where it is now . What we really need is for the t2 mining barges to justfy their price , because the difference in yield and tank when compared to the t1 variants it’s not that much to justify the price .
The barges are strip miner dedicated and should stay that way . If people want a solo drone mining barge , then CCP has to come up with a new design instead of fracturing the current barges/exhumers .
We need a complete new design as a solo t1 and t2 drone mining barge .

So does the rest of the barges/exhumers , including Procurer or Skiff , take them in null and j-space mining and they won’t last alone for long against the rats, players and so on.

T2 ship price is a different discussion I would like to talk about in a different thread.

I know, I’ve used them there. But the Procurer can live long enough while killing the smaller ships to wait for a friendly ratter to arrive and help clear the battleships. A solo Covetor or Retriever would be forced out of the belt, or die.

It seems we agree that the game could use a drone mining barge, but why not the Retriever?

Why is the Retriever fine as it is now? What role does the Retriever fulfill?

Also, I kept one high slot so that the Retriever would still be strip miner based, even though the strip miner is now the secondary mining system rather than the mining drones that are the secondary system on the other barges.

Yes i agree that the game does need a t1 , respectively t2 drone mining barge, as i already said it .
Why not the Retriever ? Because the current barges/exhumers are traditionally strip miners .
CCP has done dumb moves like this in the past , for example when transforming the Armageddon from a laser platform into a drone and missile platform with cap warfare abilities, when we already had the Bhaalgorn and the Curse/Pilgrim/Ashimmu .
Create enough precedents and tomorrow the Dominix is going to be a laser platform , Drake and artillery platform and so on .
From my point of view , the logical step would be a new design instead of fracturing an existing traditional strip miner line.

These are my sincere thoughts , you obviously do not have to agree with me on this one , but i think that i have a valid argument behind it to take into consideration.

Are you aware of Porpoise existence?

Yes I am. The Porpoise (and Orca, and to a certain extent the Rorqual too) are primarily mining fleet support ships though, that just happen to be able to mine with drones. I wanted to introduce a dedicated drone mining ship.

2 Likes

Fair enough. I just think that the Retriever is currently lacking an identity and I see a new possible mining role that I think would fit the Retriever.

AFK drone mining barge still goes bump. Just saying…

Just had to correct this.

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That you can support fleet doesn’t mean that you should support fleet.

Or even be in fleet

CCP is most likely going to remove the drone mining bonus from the Orca and possibly Porpoise too as most already anticipate this , and it is the logical thing to do , they are mining fleet support ships .

2 Likes

Proof maybe?
Also point me at that “most”

What I try to say. Drone mining niche is already taken by other class of ships. Retriever need other role (or class change)

As for the Retriever, it is a strip mining platform with a bonus to ore hold. You can read on this thread what are my thoughts in changing it , some posts above.