The recent DevBlog regarding the various changes to mining makes for some interesting reading. As a reasonably enthusiastic miner in my early days I have pretty well developed skills in mining that I haven't taken serious advantage of in years, so it's fair to say the changes have got me intrigued. And I really like the direction that CCP are taking, too. It's clear CCP want to bring the risk back to mining as the mining barge and exhumer overhaul of the past made under used mining platforms virtually invulnerable and far more effective at extracting resources. It effectively killed the annual Hulkageddon event as no one bothered to use a Hulk anymore with the Skiff being only marginally less efficient but next to ungankable in HiSec space. As someone who reveled in blapping unsuspecting Hulks mining AFK in HiSec regions, this was a massive disappointment.
There's an awful lot covered in the DevBlog but one thing caught my eye in particular. The Porpoise. The name gives it away as a smaller version of the Orca and, in keeping with ORE design, the Primae hull was an obvious choice. The fact they have given it the sort of mass that it can traverse a frigate sized wormhole is telling. Now those lucrative shattered wormhole systems that spawn NullSec ice and ore will have a dedicated hauler/booster to assist in a mining operation. I wrote about this conundrum some time ago, finding a solution in the form of an unscannable, off grid Command Destroyer, but with offgrid links no longer being a thing, the Porpoise is a timely addition. I suspect Noobman, the Wormhole representative CSM, had a fair bit to do with this addition and I'm pretty happy I gave him my vote now.
The bonuses of the ship are interesting. Much like an Orca, only slightly less effective in the boosting role, but with the interesting addition of a 400% bonus to the range of medium remote shield boosters. A decent sized fleet of shield tanked Prospect or Endurance frigates, backed up with Shield links and remote shield reps, would be a tough nut to crack for a small gang. Moreover, the Porpoise itself looks to have a pretty capable tank, enabling the remote reps to stay on the field long enough to allow the fleet members to escape as you'll no doubt see yourself called primary. Of course, in an Orca that'd be the sort of loss you couldn't possibly countenance, but the Porpoise is going to have a value of around sixty million ISK, so a degree of risk is certainly worth it for the occasional loss you might sustain.
Now, I love what CCP are trying to do here. A well organised mining outfit could see itself as very defendable. The sheer amount of Drone DPS would make any small gang nervous. Indeed, if it became popular enough you might see Wormholers fitting smart bombs in their utility high slots to deal with the drone threat effectively; but there's the rub. Will it be popular?
That question can best be answered by examining the nature of the lion's share of miners. It's far from being scientific, but my experience has been that they are rarely wolves in sheep's clothing, they're just sheep. I can count on one finger the amount of times I've lost a ship to a mining fleet and it was only because we were in Brave Newbies space, horribly outnumbered and they knew we were coming and had time to have Rapier tackle on the field for when we inevitably dropped in on their mining operation. RIP Confessor. Every other time I've caught a group of miners with their pants down it's resulted in their demise.
I truly hope I'm wrong. I think it'd be great for the game if we saw large groups of miners venturing into dangerous space with nothing more than their mining lasers and enormous balls, I just can't see it happening. Even so, the Porpoise is a great addition for Wormholers in particular and will make fuel production without the reliance of K-Space an actual reality, as opposed to the purely theoretical one it has been, to date.