Yesterday, I picked up an Argo MOLE (Multi Operator Laser Extractor) Carbon Black edition and set sail for Delamar to crush some asteroids. Joined by a crew from TGWS, we quickly learned this ship is thoroughly optimized for coop fun while kicking plenty of credits down when operated thoughtfully. That’s not to say this first iteration doesn’t have its problems, but the overall experience is enjoyable and continues to deepen and expand the mining career field.
From an aesthetic perspective, the Argo Mole is all industrial and well-aligned to the brand’s design language. Perhaps better than any other manufacturer I’ve seen, frankly, Argo ships are instantly recognizable.
Argo Mole: Operation fundamentals
The Argo Mole is a dedicated mining vessel with four crew positions: pilot, starboard, port, and ventral drilling booms. Each boom operator controls an independent scanner, fracture beam, and tractor beam for finding, breaking down and reeling in precious minerals.
The ventral boom is relatively luxurious, with a pressurized cabin and climate control. The starboard and port operators work in far more severe conditions with little more than a seatbelt to protect them from hard vacuum and the occasional exploding space rock. For this reason, flank boom operators should stay inside the crew cabin whenever the ship is moving above 50 meters per second and never transfer into or out of the chair unless the ship’s speed is absolute zero.
The bridge, however, is quite comfortable with room for a pilot and co-pilot and quick access to the galley -being important for keeping the pilot alert during long, boring stretches of scanning the radar for threats while the drillers do their thing. Aside from intermittent attitude changes during mining operations, and shifting from rock to rock, the pilot’s primary responsibility is to get the crew safely to the mining fields and get all that precious ore securely back to a shipping terminal at the end of the day.
Interestingly, the Argo Mole also has a modest crew cabin aft of the galley with four bunks, a head, and a shower. Today, except for the head, this feels like a waste of space better used for storing precious ore. With a competent crew, the ship reaches cargo capacity within an hour of mining. It makes no sense for the Argo Mole to venture much more than a few minutes from the nearest shipping facility to maximize profitability. The necessity of making port every hour or two also means an operator can drive three shifts of mining every day and allow workers the relative luxury of sleeping and eating planetside or in a space station off hours.
Of course, the need to return to a shipping terminal to sell every load of ore is temporary. One day, when the UEE lifts the embargo barring individual commercial operators from transferring resources and credits, it will once again be possible for mining operations to layer in dedicated shipping vessels. This division of labor will allow the Argo Mole to remain on station and do what it does best: Break rocks and vacuum up ore.
When that day comes, room for two shifts onboard makes a little more sense, though it’s hard to imagine the Argo Mole out there for days or weeks. For one thing, besides sleeping and eating, off-hours life aboard is dreadfully noisy, monotonous, and claustrophobic. There are precious few square meters not dedicated to the acquisition and storage of ore, and the constant danger of popping a rock and venting the cabin makes it inadvisable to hang around without a spacesuit on.
Operating on the fringe
For the most daring, startup operators looking for the big score, the Argo Mole is a valid option for frontier expeditions. She’s slow, defenseless, and an easy target for even the most cowardly, opportunistic pirates looking for a quick score. But, if supported by a dedicated heavy fighter, the increased cargo capacity and cooperative efficiency offer a significant upgrade over the MISC Prospector.
In this configuration, the escort’s only job is to give the Mole a chance to turn tail and QT the hell out. I can’t possibly stress this enough: The Argo Mole shouldn’t attempt to stand and fight anything, except maybe another Argo Mole.
The inclusion of two forward-facing, max size two canons does nothing but provide the crew with an entirely false sense of security. The ship’s ridiculously low thrust to weight ratio and clumsy maneuvering makes any decision to fight a decision to die. A sign that says ‘take our ore, we won’t fight’ would do more to protect the safety of the crew.
The Argo Mole: Summing it up
All in all, I’m pleased I added the Argo Mole to my fleet. I get the most out of my time in Star Citizen when hanging with friends and making credits, and that’s precisely where this vessel shines. I believe she will eventually find a permanent place in a mining operation working cleanup alongside an Orion or on multi-day trips scouting for new fields.
So what do you think of the Argo Mole? Be sure to leave comments; we’d love to know! As always, INN is always on the lookout for more writers. Whether you want to write reviews, opinion, or in-lore news about happenings inside the ‘verse, there’s space for you at INN.
Also, if you’re looking for a casual, fun org to play Star Citizen with, check out TGWS. If you’re looking for a more dedicated, lore-driven RPG org, check out the Republic of Lorell, recently featured in the BBC review of Star Citizen in December of 2019!