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Last week I stated that moving the unscannable cargo hold from the Orca to Blockade Runners was a good decision and lauded CCP Greyscale for unapologetically breaking the news. However, not everyone celebrated. Jester, in his post Plastic wrap all the things!, had little good to say about the reason given by CCP Greyscale for the change. To be clear, Jester does not come right out and say it’s a bad idea – directly. Still, the overwhelmingly negative vibe in that post draws the reader to such a conclusion like a gravity well draws mass.

So I did some more thinking on the subject. I admit my first post was an immediate reaction. I’ve thought about the Orca’s role on many occasions. I’ve always felt the ship is too good at too many things. But I hadn’t thought about it recently; not really since CCP took away the ability to use it as a deep-space mobile POS (aka a ninja salvager’s wet dream). I needed to confirm to myself that I truly did feel CCP made a good decision.

They did. It is. This post will discuss why I think so.

The first thing I want to discuss is barrier of entry into the transportation game. There are two of them. The first is cost. When I bought my Keiko over a years ago, it cost me a half billion credits – modules and all. That is a lot of ISK. It took me a long time to afford to fly that ship. Today the cost is double. The hull alone costs 30% more than my total price 16 months ago. An Orca hull is now selling for over 700 mISK in Essence.

The Viator by comparison, though it saw about the same percentage price increase, recovered better and is far more affordable at around 130 mISK for the hull.

This not only reduces the buy-in cost of the transportation game, it also reduces the inevitable replacement cost of ship and cargo. Though the math is simple, I’ll spell it out anyway. A pilot can buy five (5) Viators for the price of an Orca.

As Jester pointed out, any well fit Tornado can catch and kill a Blockade Runner not perfectly flown (and maybe even then). But that same Tornado poorly fitted can tackle an Orca. And, it makes no difference that it can’t finish off the Orca before CONCORD arrives. As much as we’d like to think they do, gankers do not fly alone. The good ones will have as a minimum an alt in a Prowler with SEBOs to assist their Tornado. Whether you fly an Orca or a Viator; if they want to gank, you they will. Nothing you can do will abrogate that fact. However, you can reduce the cost of the loss. With a smaller hold and a much lower price, the Blockade Runner does just that.

The second barrier to entering the transportation game is training. It takes over 50 days to train into an Orca from scratch, and that includes none of the necessary skills to fly it properly. It takes around 35 days to train into a Blockade runner. That 15 day difference may not seem like much, but to a new EVE Online player it can be the difference between making it and giving up. But, really, who’s going to train either of those two ships straight out of the gate except an alt? Nonetheless, it’s a valid point.

But neither of these are the elephant in the room. For me the biggest issue is roles. An elephant should be an elephant; not an elephant, a rhino and a giraffe all in one.

Image by ManipUL8

This is what made me immediately approve of this change. I have always thought the Orca had an identity crisis. Is it an Industrial Command Ship meant to bring substantial bonuses to mining fleets? Is it a mini-freighter? Is it a mini-carrier? To date it has been all three of these things and all at the same time. With capabilities like that, who needs the transport class ships at all?

The Blockade Runner also had a role issue. In its case, it wasn’t that the Blockade Runner was being used for roles outside it’s intended niche. It wasn’t capable of filling its niche. What good is a stealthy cargo ship that lets any noob with a scanner find out what’s inside?  It makes common sense to this industrialist that the ship intended for stealthy hauling would keep it’s contents secret. This makes far more sense than ORE designing a ship to keep asteroid dust and mining bits a secret.

CCP’s balancing effort isn’t only about combat ships. The industrial ships are out of whack too. Just as many players, including Jester, have pointed out. All ships should have a unique and beneficial role to play, industrial ships included. And what’s really cool about industrials is they can be modified more on the fly than the combat ships. It makes plenty of more sense for CCP to make these changes one attribute at a time because they aren’t affecting anyone’s balance of power.

Easing these changes in over time gives industrialists time to alter their production processes. Unlike PvP, industry can take months to plan and execute. If you rely on the Orca to facilitate that production and CCP changes it all over night, your entire business could be endangered. With incremental change over time, you’ll have a much easier time of adapting your processes and maintaining your margins.

Eventually, when CCP finishes all these changes, the Orca needs to be the queen of the mining fleet as it was meant to be. When ring mining comes, each fleet must have an Orca leading it to boost the survey scanner strength enough to find the residual Technetium left in that pile of rubble that was once a moon. This is what the Orca was designed by ORE to do. That is what it should do.

And while I’m on the matter of fitting the Orca to its proper role, why does it have that big fat cargo hold to begin with? I can see why it has a ship maintenance bay. That’s to get more barges to the asteroid field or even a swarm of mining frigates (Oh yeah!). I understand why it has a drone bay. The ore hold is self explanatory as well. But how many crystals does an Orca need to carry for its mining fleet? Surely not the 1260 it currently can. How many spare drones does it need to take? Can a fleet even lose 6300 Warrior IIs in a single fight (unless it’s the Orca that gets popped)? Does it really need to haul around 1,260,000 rounds of Antimatter Charge L? Why can it haul more cargo than an Iteron V, a ship designed to haul cargo? I vote the next change for the Orca is to reduce the cargo hold like CCP did with the other mining barges. Maybe even give that space over to more ore capacity!

Considering all this, CCP Greyscale was absolutely correct. The Orca was never intended to do what it is routinely used to do. That is not the players fault. Players press every advantage, it’s their nature. CCP should never have made the Orca such a strong all around ship to begin with. It has a specific purpose and it isn’t to make the Jita run in 12 parsecs. But hindsight is 20/20 and I can’t waggle my fingers at them now. After all, no one was screaming at them for doing it back then.And lastly, the fact CCP Greyscale didn’t take the time to point all this out has nothing to do with deception. There was no incompetence, idiocy or deliberate thump-nose-finger waggling. CCP was within a week of a major update to EVE Online. They ALL had better things to do than mollify bitter vets viewing events through the perfect lens of hindsight.

Fly careful.

– Mabrick

He’s been around the block a time or five. With over 15 years of MMO playing under his belt and a memory that reaches back to pencils and dice, he offers his insights into the not so virtual reality we call EVE Online.

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20 Comments

  1. I tried to read it

    Tl:dr version: Orcas should be nerfed again then buffed blockade runners more popular to fly but can still be ganked

    December 6, 2012 at 7:34 am Reply
  2. 2.4

    Posting in a stealth nerf highsec thread…

    December 6, 2012 at 8:33 am Reply
  3. Observer -1

    Bad Article, Burn IT!

    December 6, 2012 at 8:35 am Reply
  4. Draco

    Problem is the stealth hauler is that its hardly a underused ship as things stand. Its very very very useful in low and null. The unscanable hold hardly going to help it too much either. If people see one of these decloaked in Jita, there going to gank it, because the only reason someone would be driving a stealth ship with a small cargo-hold in Jita is because these moving something small and valuable.

    Now a ship with unscanable hold and a decent hp bar would give gankers food for thought if its worth ganking or not, but not a fragile things that one guy in a well sset up ship can gank.

    December 6, 2012 at 8:51 am Reply
    1. seany1212

      Except the ship will still retain its uses in null and low, last time i checked people in those areas dont wait around for a cargo scan before deciding to hit F1+…

      Anyone with a brain knows how to dock and undock in jita without getting ganked, it comes back to those who expect to fly in high with impunity. Anything in jita can get scanned, one high priced kestral along with many other victims prove that.

      As has been stated in the article, anything is gankable and usually involves more than one character.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm Reply
      1. M1k3y

        Except when you land 2km off Jita 4-4 and cant dock without burning 2km through tornados…

        December 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm Reply
  5. I just do not know

    I would leave the Orca as it is now, I am also not sure what nerf you are talking about stopping you from using it as a mobile POS in 0.0? The blockade runner change is perfect, as I was using that anyway to move expensive stuff in even though I had an Orca means I am an even happier bunny… I expect to be back in HS by end of January, and have a lot of stuff to pick up which I dropped off in various low sec systems via WH's…

    December 6, 2012 at 8:57 am Reply
  6. Observer

    I agree with Mabrick to a large extent – some ships are just too good at too much and therefore a balance sweep is required. My only concern is that balancing can be taken too far and actually result in a less diverse playing environment.

    December 6, 2012 at 9:45 am Reply
  7. raknor

    ok so explain to me how a tornado and a prowler with sebos kills an orca?

    December 6, 2012 at 10:14 am Reply
    1. CB/JL

      'But that same Tornado poorly fitted can tackle an Orca. And, it makes no difference that it can’t finish off the Orca before CONCORD arrives. As much as we’d like to think they do, gankers do not fly alone'

      I don't think he said 'kill' the orca. but merely tackle it. And as he said gankers do not fly alone suggests he's only tackling the orca long enough for the remainder of the fleet to arrive.

      December 6, 2012 at 11:07 am Reply
  8. anon

    Fuck you mabrick. Get hit by a bus.

    December 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm Reply
  9. Worka

    "I have always thought the Orca has an identity crisis. Is it an Industrial Command Ship meant to bring substantial bonuses to mining fleets? Is it a mini-freighter? Is it a mini-carrier?"

    Orca's description says:
    "The Orca uses much of the technology developed by ORE for the Rorqual and integrated with the latest advancements from Deep Core Mining research division has developed a vessel which offers a diverse role to all sizes of operations and needs. "
    A diverse role to all sizes of operations and needs. So working as intended.

    "Why can it haul more cargo than an Iteron V, a ship designed to haul cargo? I vote the next change for the Orca is to reduce the cargo hold like CCP did with the other mining barges."

    There's one problem with this. Currently, Orca is a step between usual T1 cargo haulers like Ittys/Badgers/ etc and freighters. Iteron V can be maxed to about 30k m3, and T1 freighters are about 700-900k m3. If you nerf Orca's cargo hold, then what are you going to offer people who need to haul, say, 100k m3? Learn and buy a freighter with its incredible warp speed and agility or make 4 runs in an Itty?

    Also, why is it OK when an _industrial_ ship can carry all sorts of stuff, but not OK when _industrial_ command ship does the same thing? Industry involves hauling different stuff (trade goods, POS and capital modules), not only rocks. And if you compare the cost of the ship and SP per cargo m3, then Itty is at advantage. It is also at advantage in w-space, where ship mass/cargo volume matters.

    So no, Orca is not that OP and, imo, deserves it's stats for its class. Maybe if CCP introduces a separate hauler class between freighters and industrials, Orca's cargo may be decreased and/or partially replaced with material hold. Until then, a pure nerf will rather create problems, than solve them.

    December 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm Reply
  10. Kiyohime Ronuken

    Orca: One of the ships in EVE there's little or nothing wrong with.
    Blockade Runners: As above.

    If you're not seeing a way around gankers you're not putting enough thought into the process…

    December 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm Reply
  11. Urziel99

    I'm still waiting for our indiamen type industrials. The kind that can take a ton of abuse and fight back.

    December 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm Reply
    1. gumpin

      Doesn't a Carrier sorta do that?

      December 6, 2012 at 7:23 pm Reply
      1. Urziel99

        nope.

        December 7, 2012 at 3:04 am Reply
  12. gumpin

    i liked it till the end.

    When you favored nerfing the orca's cargo hold instead of buffing the iteron V.

    Why nerf a capital Industrial (COUGH COUGH NAME) when you can just BUFF the Industrial to hold more.

    December 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm Reply
  13. Pathfinder

    "I vote the next change for the Orca is to reduce the cargo hold like CCP did with the other mining barges."

    I vote you shut you god damn mouth

    December 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm Reply
    1. Guess

      I'm not against this as long as the removed cargo space goes into ore hold space, if it's just a straight removal then yes I'm firmly against it, as for the ore hold on the orca that should be changed to a ore and MINERAL hold instead of just straight ore, if eve online was real life do you think someone wouldn't mod the ore hold to accept more than just ores? :)

      December 9, 2012 at 8:42 am Reply
  14. FA grunt

    This was written by a guy from hi sec…..it's a industrial command ship that can do all things industrial (makes sense) but a issue that is reoccurring in many articles on this site is cost eve is getting extremely expensive. Some features that CCP has introduced might make me stick around a little longer but if costs of everything doesn't come down then I am out

    December 8, 2012 at 9:52 pm Reply

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