EU Mining 101 (and beyond)
Anyone can pick up a finder and some bombs or probes and go randomly drop them in some random places, and this may work fine for a while (or not), but to really progress at mining you need to learn the mechanics behind it, markups and locations. This guide will go beyond the "basic" grab a finder and go drop a bomb and your done guides that seem to be around.
As a new miner the first thing you should learn is that mining isn't something you can't easily support without depositing. The smaller runs you do the more likely you are to end up loosing big. All the best miners mine with 200-500+ bombs/probes per trip, minimum. I consider 100 bombs/probes a MINIMUM for a trip, anything less and your far more likely to loose, imho.
What I mean that you have a higher chance of loosening out with smaller runs is that if you run into an area thats been mined out recently you're going to get a lot more misses then normal, without a large run that loss will not be balanced out easily or at all, making that run abnormally bad. Thats one of the reasons I recommend larger runs.
Learning that an area is bad and you need to move is something that comes with experience, I believe. The more you mine an area the better you'll be at judging if its returning like it should. If your getting bad returns MOVE, I do, so you should as well. ;-)
Because of that (50 or 100 ped) initial amount of money for the run, it makes it difficult for a non-depositor. So for that reason I recommend depositing if you want to do mining (and your tools are going to get expensive as well!)
ENERGY OR ORE OR BOTH?
I recommend both, I do both. Reasoning is that I 100% believe both systems are completely separate, with separate loot pools (amount of available peds that can be looted from that profession). This means you can mine both, in the same area, dropping a bomb then a probe at the same spot for every time, and get returns equal to if you was just doing one alone. I find it doubles my chance of getting a good result in my mining run, since losses in ore can be made up for a nice find in the energy department.
I've never seen any evidence that mining both over-top of each other has any effect to the returns I'd get otherwise. I often find it fun to mine together with a friend, one do ore other do energy, that way you don't affect each others returns and you can team up to kill mobs and just generally have more fun then mining alone.
If you lock yourself into one type from the start you'd limit your chances of pairing up with a friend (cause if they want to do ore or only do ore you can't choose energy if all you do is ore!).
If you absolutely must or want to decide to only do one, then I recommend ore. It has FAR MORE high markup ores then is available for energy. But I don't recommend one profession, I recommend doing both, every run, take equal amounts of probes and bombs. Do both.
TT finder? NO!
As you can see the TT finder is a LOWER depth of search then the basic OF-101. For that reason I recommend buying a OF-101, you can pick them up for less then +1, so expense wise it's not a concern.
As with finders, I recommend upgrading your finder AS SOON AS you can use a better one (check often), once you hit the skill gain bonus for the new finder get a new finder, all the way up to the mid-range (over 500m depth) versions. Once your skilled enough to start using the EXPENSIVE finders, you'll have to weigh the cost-benefit ratio of the expensive finder's decay (After markup) vs. what you'll find, and use it in only choice areas.
Once you get to the 500m range finders (OF-105, MF-105, Z20, Tik200), the prices rise considerably. It would probably be best to stick with those range finders until you are comfortable enough and financially stable enough to use the much more expensive deeper finders.
Heres a list of some of the finder's you'll be looking as you skill up:
OreFinder OF-101, 263.7 m, levels 0-1, 1.076 pec/bomb decay
OreFinder OF-102, 323.4 m, levels 0.5-2.5, 1.6 pec/bomb decay
OreFinder OF-103, 363.2 m, levels 1-4.7, 1.89 pec/bomb decay
OreFinder OF-104, 432.9 m, level 2.1, 1.6 pec/bomb decay
OreFinder OF-105, 522.4 m, levels 2.9-11, 2.05 pec/bomb decay
OreFinder OF-210 (L), 383.1 m, level 0.6, 1.25 pec/bomb decay+markup
OreFinder OF-211 (L), 472.6 m, levels 1.5-4, 1.306 pec/bomb decay+markup
OreFinder OF-212 (L), 592 m, level 4.4, 1.343 pec/bomb decay+markup
Ziplex Z5 OreSeeker (L), 303.5 m, levels 1-2, 1.89 pec/bomb decay+markup
Ziplex Z10 OreSeeker (L), 403 m, leves 2-3, 2.222 pec/bomb decay+markup
Ziplex Z15 OreSeeker (L), 477.6 m, levels 3-5, 2.557 pec/bomb decay+markup
Ziplex Z20 OreSeeker (L), 552.3 m, levels 5-7, 2.91 pec/bomb decay+markup
MatterFinder MF-101, 263.7 m, levels 0-0.5, 1.00 pec/probe decay
MatterFinder MF-102, 323.4 m, levels 0.5-2.5, 1.15 pec/probe decay
MatterFinder MF-103, 363.2 m, levels 1-4.7, 1.45 pec/probe decay
MatterFinder MF-104, 432.9 m, level 2.1, 1.63 pec/probe decay
MatterFinder MF-105, 522.4 m, levels 2.9-11, 1.8 pec/probe decay
MatterFinder MF-210 (L), 383.1 m, level 0.6, 1.21 pec/probe decay+markup
MatterFinder MF-211 (L), 472.6 m, levels 1.5-4, 1.306 pec/probe decay+markup
MatterFinder MF-212 (L), 592 m, levels 4.4-11, 1.343 pec/probe decay+markup
Ziplex Ju25 MatterSeeker (L), 303.5 m, levels 1-2, 0.92 pec/probe decay+markup
Ziplex Ju40 MatterSeeker (L), 403 m, levels 2-3, 1.111 pec/probe decay+markup
Ziplex Ju55 MatterSeeker (L), 477.6 m, levels 3-5, 1.257 pec/probe decay+markup
Ziplex Tik200 MatterSeeker (L), 552.3 m, levels 5-7, 1.46 pec/probe decay+markup
As you can see the Matter finders and Ore finders are pretty much the same, stats wise.
It seems that finds can be deeper then the artificial floor of 1000m MA set, miners who use those tools regularly data seems to indicate that. But for a beginner don't worry about 1000m depths... it will be a LONG while before you can use finders that reach that far...
TT? Sure... for the start.
Better extractor = faster extraction and faster skill gains.
TT extractors are fine when you start, but you should quickly look for ones that give you skill gain bonuses and only use those. OF-103's and OF-104's are cheap and give you bonuses for a while. Once you can use them, get one. The expensive limited ones, aren't all that great, I recommend avoiding if you can. Once you can't get skill bonuses from the OF-104/MF-104's (or 105's), then maybe look at them, but the cost of decay probably isn't worth it, imho.
I personally carry around TT extractors, along with my better ones. If theres a find that will extract with one or two pulls I usually pull out the TT version to extract it to cut down (although a very little amount) of decay for the run.
Better refiners = less decay
The decay savings of good refiners is minimal, and the 105's are expensive (due to rare ores they need), due to the rare ores the high end ones need to make are very variable in price (could get MUCH cheaper next month or whenever) the cost of them could change quite a bit, making you loose a lot if you bought one at a high price. So your savings on the 0.001 pec it gives you over the 104 or 103 would never be recoverable if it drops 50 ped or 100 ped in price.
For that reason I wouldn't recommend getting 105's, 104's are probably stable priced enough that they won't change much. If you do A LOT of mining (hundreds of bombs/probes every day) then getting better refiners will save you peds.
WHATS THE DEAL WITH DEPTH?
Rare resources our only found in deeper depths, cheap finders can't find them, the better the finder the better chance of finding the rare resources. Immortal's post does a great job of illustrating the importance of depth and finders:
In short, once your skilled enough, use good finders in areas good resources are known to be, or if your risky, everywhere. So yes, depth is important.
The advice I have for amps is colored by my theories of how the mining system works. So be warned.
I believe that depth (ergo type) and size of deposits are not pre-determined, but determined when you drop your bomb, it's based on the available "pool" for the resource your finding and your contribution to that pool. (i.e. if you put more in your going to get more out).
Like a slot-machine at a casino, you put in $100, your *MOST LIKELY* to get back $98 (or whatever it's payout % is set to), You have a chance (although low) to get less then that, and a chance (Although much much lower) to get a lot more then what you put in as well. The system is designed to pay back a % lower then what you put in, 99.99% of the time it will do that. The extra % it takes is the profit of the casino and a % of that is paid back in high return "jackpots."
I believe mining is just like slot machines, if you take out of the equation other players mining the area before you, the system would be designed to return a % less then what you put in, say 80%. The remainder 20% (just an example random percent) would go to the HoF loot pool.
I also believe there is a finite amount of a type of ore allowed to exist in the game at once, and it needs to be destroyed (crafted) in order to be re-found. So some of the rarer resources it may not be possible to get a huge HoF on due to that limitation, and what is horded in people's hangers. There just may not be enough that can be looted to get a HUGE HoF on. But low end ores that are used by the metric TON every minute (like lyst and oil) you have a great chance of getting a 200,000 ped HoF on, but say Rugaritz your not going to get 200,000 ped of, cause I'm sure that much can't exist. The amount of ore that can exist is a control method of limited the number (And thus price) of the high end crafted goods.
Amps are simply a way of upgrading your slot machine from nickel slots to dollar slots or beyond. You're putting in more, your finds will be adjusted, but your payout % will remain the same (still only get back say on average 80%), and your odds of getting a HoF and winning more (then that 80% return) MOST LIKELY is the same with or without amps.
That 80% I'm using is purely an arbitrary number, I have no clue what it is. Likewise it's possible the ped being dumped into crafting might also feedback into the mining loot pool as well making it more likely to get profit... Only MA knows.
Thats my thoughts on amps, they're a way to see bigger finds, but I don't think they increase your odds of profiting much, in fact they have a MUCH MUCH better chance of drastically reducing your profits. Since in mining, unlike other professions, other players GREATLY affect your chances. (See theories sections below for more details).
I use 101 amps every so often, but I don't believe amps will increase my odds of profiting, so I don't use them very often. I've played with as large as 103's before. Going beyond that is crazy to me. I do concede that if you pop on a high power amp and drop a bomb and get a big find, then take off the amp, that that run will most likely be profitable. But if you use amps on every bomb, your return % will likely be the same as if you didn't use the amps. Your mileage may vary with amps, I wouldn't recommend them until you have enough peds that their loss isn't a big deal.
Keep in mind that if your using amps that the return is based on TT, the markup your paying for the amp will have to be made up for in quality of ores you find. You should only use amps in areas that you know what ores you will get back, and only if those ores are marked up higher then the markup of your amps. (Thanks to Kosh for pointing this out!)
Amps are valued as thus:
101 = 0.5x bomb/probe cost
102 = 1x
103 = 2x
104 = 3x
105 = 4x
106 = 5x
107 = 10x
108 = 15x
109 = 20x
So for a bomb using a 104 amp that you paid 120% for the actual markup after calculating the 1 ped for the bomb is:
(bomb_cost + decay_of_amp * markup) / (bomb_cost + decay_of_amp) = real_percent_markup
(1 + 3 * 120%)/(1 + 3) = 115%
So you'd only want to use that amp in areas that the ores you get will market for 115% or more!
OVERLAP, BOMB SPACING, CARPET BOMBING?!
When dropping bombs/probes you need to be acutely aware of your bomb detection radius.
For 100% coverage of an area you need to overlap your bomb's radius, as you can see in the above examples. Those are the two distances I use. When I carpet bomb I try to run 100-110m in a straight direction away from the last bomb location to drop the next. If I'm just searching for an area to bomb I usually run probably 200-300m between each bomb.
If I'm just doing a quick run (most of them) I time my bombs by counting while I run, I found I can can count to about 7-8 for 50ish meters. So I usually drop bombs 15 counts apart. You should time your count, like get your position where you start, and take off running and count to say 20, stop and take position and figure out how far you ran, then figure out how far per count. Then make sure you count the same speed and you can roughly guess your distance without having to actually keep pressing "p" while you run to find your distance. The slower method is just that, run in a straight N,S,E or W direction and keep pressing "p" to get your position to get exact positining and coverage. You can get pretty fast doing that if you wish, and drop EXACT on a grid to get proper coverage.
I kinda prefer the count method, I'm probably going to far or to short a lot, but I get done a lot faster.
If you drop a bomb and get a claim 10m away, theres still A LOT of your search radius unchecked, since the finder will return the CLOSEST claim first, if you re-bomb any subsequent claims you get will be further and further away (I think i've got 4 maybe 5 off the same bomb before.. but that was LONG ago, havne't had much success double bombing as of late.) Because your leaving a lot of area uncovered, I tend to go like 50-60m away from the last claim's distance if I can when I get a hit, on a miss I go 100-110m from last bomb
To keep my place I drop something on the ground at my feet where I dropped a bomb last, so when I run off to dig out the claim I can find my spot again fairly easily. This works well in some areas, on hills and such it's probably too steep, so either carry an object that can be placed on walls or you'll not be able to do that everywhere. (some plants/flowers you can drop on top of if the ground is too steep I've found). A bottle of hair-spray works good, it's big and bright pink, easy to spot on most ground types.
I tend to carpet bomb areas that are hitting ok. I recommend this approach. Remember the # of bombs you drop is important, small numbers carriers bigger risk of not getting any return. (big numbers too could be bad.. haha.. so don't put all your peds in one run!)
This is the big question, million dollar question if you like, can you "discover" the "system" and gain an advantage?
Look at the two pictures, which series of dots is random and which is not?
Would you be surprised to know the pattern on the left is random? Where on the right the pattern is based on a non-random algorithm?
Gambler's fallacy is the false belief that the probability of an event in a random sequence is dependent on preceding events, its probability increasing with each successive occasion on which it fails to occur.
Most of these theories you see tossed about, from spirals, to veins, to triangles to which direction you stand, to the timing of the bomb drops, is all a symptom of people seeing patterns in a random occurrence.
Some answers to common theory priciples:
1. Deposit locations are predictable through some math or pattern.
FALSE Locations are 100% random within the spawn/field. No evidence, ever has been shown that they're not in a random pattern. See image above and definition of the Gambler's fallacy.
2. Skill gains are linked to deposits, they indicate a deposit is nearby or a big one is around.
FALSE Skills are random when you drop a bomb or probe. Likely the amount of skills you get increses with amps (more money in more skills), but other then that they're NOT tied to deposits in any way. More Gambler's fallacy.
Keep in mind, everyone has a theory, everyone has secret locations that they belive only they know about and are good to them. Just as there are people who have "systems" for slot machines at casinos or other purely random chance games. People like this will always exist, it's in human nature to not understand randomness and odds. Go into any redneck gas station and see some poor person spending their entire paycheck on lottery tickets for evidence that people are dumb when it comes to gambling and payout returns.
The mining system like everything else in EU is random, in every respect.
Mining is random.
Don't go down the road of trying to believe you can "discover" a system that will make you rich. It's not going to happen.
This is a rough draft of course, I'll edit it as a notice problems and expand. :P