So I mentioned that I would say more about the Orca and why I love it so much.
There are a lot of ships in EVE, but I would have to say that not all of them are game changers. What I mean by that is that they don’t really allow you to do anything that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. For example, a Raven Navy Issue isn’t all that different from a generic Raven, it just does better damage. Similarly, a Hulk isn’t really fundamentally different from a Retriever. It mines more, has a bigger cargohold, and has a better tank but fundamentally you’d still be doing the same thing, just not as efficiently.
The Orca, however, opens up a world of possibilities. It simply provides an insane amount of convenience, especially if you have 2 accounts. It can carry quite a fair amount of stuff, with a total of 90,000 m3 of cargo space (2 cargohold expanders and cargo rigs), 40,000 in the Corporate Hangar Array (CHA), a 50,000 m3 ore hold and a Ship Maintenance Array (SMA) that can carry 400,000 m3 of assembled ships. It aligns and warps decently fast, especially compared to a freighter which is the only other ship that can rival this cargo capacity. You can fit a 100mn afterburner to the Orca and use the align-and-pulse trick to get into warp much faster. Just for comparison, I managed to fly my Orca from Amarr to Jita and back (22 jumps) before my Obelisk was even 2/3 of the way from Amarr to Jita. So it’s actually a better option than a freighter if you are not moving massive amounts of minerals, or have a lot of small assembled ships to move. The SMA can only hold up to battlecruiser sized ships, or 2 Hulks.
The real key to the Orca is the SMA and CHA. Both of these holds can be accessed from space. This is a very unique ability that no other ship in high sec can provide. For one thing, it has actually made mining – gasp – fun!
I used to be very dismissive of mining, primarily because it was mind-numbingly boring and made pathetic ISK. On nights when I didn’t have much time for missions I would sometimes just fit some mining lasers on my battleships and go out and mine some pyroxeres. But the yield was so low and I would be perpetually warping back to the station to dump the pittance I could hold in my cargo hold. I never used a jet-can since that would just make me vulnerable to can-flippers.
But with the Orca, I have a giant mobile jet-can that provides nice mining boosts and I can dump the ore directly into the CHA. It has a decent tank with just 2 large shield extenders and 2 invulnerability fields, so I can just use it to tank all the belt rats and use mining drones in piece without fear of them getting popped. Even better, I can even hide inside the giant jet-can using the SMA if I suspect that someone wants to gank my Hulk. Just keep a cruiser or frigate inside and swap into it instantly if a gank ship warps into the belt. The Orca is immune to all but the most determined gank since it has more than 100,000 EHP with just the shield tank and 177,000 EHP if a Damage Control II is added. It would take more than 10 Tornados to gank it, which is more than the cost of the Orca.
So I’ve actually come to find mining pretty relaxing and fun, since I can just park the Orca next to my mining ship which is positioned close to several asteroids and mine semi-afk, just occasionally dumping the ore into the CHA and moving it into the ore or cargo hold when it gets near full. The recent spike in mineral prices also makes it much more worthwhile, I can easily mine 25 million ISK worth of minerals in about an hour. The Orca boosts are also pretty significant, I definitely notice when I forget to turn them on (and my boost skills aren’t even all at level 4).
Lastly, the Orca also opens up the possibility of having a small-scale mobile base. For example, I’ve always been planning to do some exploration just for fun, but it was always so tedious to move anywhere further than a few jumps from my home base since I’d need to move a probing ship, a combat ship, and maybe a salvage ship. Now with the Orca I can just pack it all inside and bring them all along with me. I can even warp the Orca into the site with me and refit from the SMA on the spot! No more agonizing about whether to fit a codebreaker or analyzer module.
Once you go Orca, you wonder how you ever got along without it…