Monday, October 27, 2008

Thoughts on The Orca

The Orca has been available on the test server for a few days and I’ve spent some time getting to know the preliminary version of the latest ship in the Eve Universe. I’ve looked forward to getting my hands on this ship since it was first rumored to be on the way. Having flown it, I’m even more excited!


My comments about the Orca will be made in this context. I’m primarily a miner. My second character, Kaye Carson, was originally cast as a hauler and can fly Gallente industrials, transports and freighters. Recently, Kaye has moved up to fly command ships with 2 mining command links and a shield link. Both of us can salvage.

A typical scenario when we are flying alone is for Kaye to be in a fully rigged Ity V sitting next to my Hulk. I like to mine for about an hour at a time while I deal with my corp email box, then I’ll run missions with students or Kaye will shift to Eos & provide mining bonuses to a student fleet. Often, we’ll work with students to mine mission ore. Most of our mining is in Empire and in systems with refining capabilities.

Selected Orca Characteristics

• Approximately 78k m3 cargo (2x T2 Expanders, 3X T1 Cargo rigs

• 30k m3 Corporate hangar
o Configurable by pilot to allow/deny access to pilots in the fleet
o Carries same divisions/structure/access as Corp station hangars
o Can not be accessed by freighters in space

• 400k m3 Ship Maintenance hangar
o Carries only assembled ships
o Ships may have only ammo/scripts/crystals in their cargo holds
o Allows refits in space

• 3/3/2 Hi/Med/Low slot layout

• 50 m3 drone bay with 25 bandwidth

• 75km tractor

Skill Requirements

• Industrial Command Ships I (new skill)
• Mining Barge V
• Spaceship Command V
• Mining Foreman III (Per devs, will be changed to Mining Director I)
• Industry V

Overall Impressions

I like the ship model, but I’m not sure of the scale. It appears to be about the same volume as a Domi, about 6-8 times bigger than a Catalyst and about 25% the size of an Obelisk. This seems to be a bit small. It could use some Hulk-like moving parts and perhaps a lighter main color, but those are just nits.

Ship flight is sluggish, but appears reasonable and in line with other ships. Warp initiation is about 10-12 seconds slower than a plated Dominix and about 10-12 seconds faster than an Obelisk.

The Ship Maintenance hangar can carry 2 Hulks. Since I don’t rig my Hulks, I’m more likely to carry a Hulk disassembled in the Corp Hangar and fill the Ship Hangar with an Ity V, a CovOps, an interceptor, a salvage destroyer and an assault frigate (all rigged) when I go on expeditions.

Currently, only one command link can be used, but the devs have acknowledged this bug & indicated that the design spec is for three. This implies the need for one additional high slot to allow the fit of 3 command links and a tractor. I think the additional top slot is a necessary change and support the call for it. I'll probably run 2 mining command links, a tractor and a salvager.

You can follow the debate on the Eve Online forums about the specifics of the ship stats. There are those that feel that it needs to compress ore (I disagree), that it needs an additional mid slot and an additional low slot (I’ll never turn them down, but I don’t think the ship is broken because of the current mid/low layout), that the ship is a jack of all trades, but master of none and therefore useless (I disagree) and many other opinions.

Required Skills

Most of the forum debate on the skill subject revolves around the requirement for Mining Barge V to fly a ship that can’t fit mining lasers. I think this argument has merit. The devs have indicated that skill requirement will be adjusted to Mining Director I.

My recommended required skills would be:
• Industrial Command Ship I (new skill)
• Industry V
• Command Ship II
• Transports IV
• Mining Director I

At first, that appears to be a reduction of the skills required, but imbedded in the requirements are Battlecruiser V, Spaceship Command V, Leadership V and Mining Foreman V. The skillset that I’m suggesting appears appropriate for a ship designed to be a hybrid of a command ship, a transport and an upsized industrial. And before the post is made, yes, I realize that I’m suggesting a T2 ship skill (Command Ships) for a T1 ship. So? Orca is a mining command ship. It will run multiple command links. It gives bonuses for each of those multiple command links. Why shouldn’t a ship whose primary purpose is a command ship require command ship skills?

Using the Orca

When I’m mining alone, the Orca will allow Dee to get Kaye’s command ship bonuses without jet can mining. The capacity is appropriate for the amount of time that I generally spend mining with just my characters. Launch Hulk, launch Orca, fleet warp to belt, mine until full & then warp back to the station. Minimal threat from can flippers. Adequate drone capacity for rat defense. Just about perfect for individual and small group miners!

In support of larger Uni mining ops (particularly mining mission space with 40km+ distance from the warp in point to the rocks), the Orca will serve as the logistical nexus in the belt. Cans will be tractored to one location that doubles as the warp in point for the haulers. No more tractor relays or hauler slow boating. Centralized rat looting & salvage. Surge storage capacity if haulers are scarce or if the haul requires a system jump. What’s not to like?

Others can comment on the Orca’s use as a ship transport or mini-freighter or any other such role. I’m looking at it as “a vessel to help meet the demands of New Eden's industry and provide a flexible platform from which mining operations can be more easily managed.”

It looks pretty good, too!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review... Still not sure how I will use the new toy, most probably as a hauler keeping my Vulture running boost in wing and the Orca running boost in Squad. Hate the idea of loosing boost when in warp but... The ship will be a great addition to ops if for no other reason then to eliminate jet cans in small ops.

BTW... former Dallasite here now living in Dubai. Keep up the good work with the university.

Krylon Rhae

Anonymous said...

Did you try configuring the corp hangar for deposit access? I'm hoping I can just allow my hulk to drop ore directly into the corp hangar which can be moved to standard cargo hold without the need of a jetcan. Zero risk from flippers.

-Karl Gruber-

Altaree said...

It also opens a new venue for can flippers... The unsecured orca. Especially if they are used by NPC corp members.

Dee Carson said...

@ Krylon The Lt. says it's still hot over there. We had a freeze here in North Texas last night, go figure!

@ Karl Yes, miners can drop directly in the corp hangar and then the Orca pilot can move to the cargo hold.

@ altaree - I don't think so. Orca pilot must configure the Corp hangar to allow fleet access. The default is no access and the hangar resets to the default upon every jump.

Anonymous said...

I'm rather excited about it personally, the hauler alt needed something new to train for.

xiphos83 said...

I need to get on the test server and take a look. Thanks for the review!

Tony said...

Thanks for the review, must go onto SiSi to see how long it will take for me to train for it.

How much do you expect it to be when it first comes out, no doubt it will be expensive.

You EVE-U people with your massive income from taxes ;) Speaking of which, time to raise my own hehe!

Dee Carson said...

Tony, I expect the Orca to be 600-700M the first week or so of availability. Industrial corps that are producing carriers can swap over to Orcas to cherry pick the early adopters. I think prices will steady out around 400-500m.

As far as the Uni's tax rates, you must have pulled info on us while we were at war. :)

Our taxes are normally set at 2.5% and all of that goes into Uni overhead & student programs. No officer/director gets a salary or anything like that....

During wartime, we set the tax rate to 100% to encourage students to follow our standard operating procedures that prohibit mission running, mining & hauling while the conflict is active.

Tony said...

Ah thanks for the price prediction, looks like I'll wait some more!

Ya I probably pulled your info during war, but it makes sense.

Hope ya guys do well!

Anonymous said...

TY Very much Dee

Definetly gonna buy one of those, whatever the price...

Merkus Letifer

Anonymous said...

as a carebear, i'm seeing the Orca as a long-awaited recognition of CCP that there are some players who are not interested in PvP. i play with 3 accounts, and when i mine, i run one with the gang links/drones, and two in hulks. the ability to mine without jetcans will be very nice, considering the number of can thieves around. i'm also considering a config with the Orca, and 2 cargo-pimped hulks doing AFK ice mining, i can run it all day at work without having to pay much attention to it. just gotta figure out how to not get tagged as a macro-miner. 8^)

@ Krylon, i'm also in Dubai, things will chill down here for dec/jan/feb. ("chill" being relative to the region) my wife has already started wearing a scarf, which i think is ludicrious.

Lar Gunta
Reptilian Research

Anonymous said...

The orca also works very well tanking and salvaging in missions,
and is a good support shit because of the storage and refitting ability,