Thumper Mining: That Boom Boom Boom

Ah… The soothing sound of the thumper. It’s like money… I mean honey to my ears! Thumper mining can be one of the more profitable ventures in Firefall. Thumpers are used to extract ore (iron, tungsten, titanium, or uranium), which can be sold on the player market, or processed for use in construction. This article will teach you how to get that Boom Boom Boom… and make some skrill while you’re at it! Alternatively, you could just listen to the Black Eyed Peas, they seem to have it figured out.

The Scan Hammer

The scan hammer is your tool for discovering ore. You can purchase a scan hammer at one of New Eden’s vendors for 50 crystite. It is a reusable item and is equipped in any of your item slots. When used, your character will strike the ground, sending a cone shaped wave in front of you. By jumping in the air, you can observe the direction of the waves. Move in that direction and use the hammer again. Each time you use the hammer, you should notice the amplitude of the waves getting larger. After three or four thumps, you will locate the ore node, which corresponds with a peak (looks like a mountain) in the wave. Congratulations, you’ve found a local maximum for ore content! Red indicates an area restricted from thumping, and random orange waves indicate that you are within the radius of someone else’s thumping operation (you can’t mine here!).

Ore Types and Locations

Just because you found a node, doesn’t mean you found the ore you are looking for. Thumper mining requires an understanding of general locations where certain material types are found. Pay attention to what surface deposit types you are seeing in an area, this is a good indication of what you will find. You’ve got to go to higher level areas to get higher level ore. Higher level ores are usually accompanied by lower ones, so when you mine titanium you will likely get some tungsten and iron as a residual.

Iron – Iron is a level I crafting material that can be found anywhere. It produces an white wave  with the scan hammer. when Iron ore itself will not earn you any credits. This is because the minimum sale value on the player market is one credit and iron is worth far less than that (notice there is over one million iron ore and bars for sale). Iron is best harvested as a residual when harvesting some other higher value material. The best way to convert your iron to credits is to build a lot of ammo packs or other basic items that sell for 2-10 credits. The downside is that most of these items require you to use some crystite or another material to build. Hence, iron harvesting is inefficient as compared to other minerals. For example, it costs 10 crystite to build each ammo pack and each ammo pack sells for two or three credits. The normal exchange rate is 25 crystite for one credit.

Tungsten – Tungsten is a level II crafting material. It produces green waves with the scan hammer. You will start seeing tungsten when you get to the level 20 areas. There is a bunch of it in the south side of Coral Forest. Tungsten is very easy to find and harvest (low level areas) and provides a modest return of one credit per tungsten bar. However, tungsten sometimes takes time to sell because there is a lot of it on the market.

Titanium – Titanium is a level III crafting material. It produces blue waves with the scan hammer. You can find titanium throughout Sertao. Titanium bars sell for three credits each.

Uranium – Uranium is a level IV crafting material. It produces purple/pink waves with the scan hammer. Uranium is found in Devils Tusk and Broken Shores and is the mother load, paying 20 credits per bar. There is stiff competition among other miners to find a spot to mine, so joining a squad may help you out. Using a squad thumper is also good etiquette because they’re are so many people looking for the ore. Because of the competition, you may also find that you are unable to mine the peak spots and have to settle for leaching. Uranium peaks are still rare in Devils Tusk, so uranium is usually mined as a residual at the 10-20% level and you can expect to average 30-60 uranium per thump.

Refining

Ore is refined into bars at the molecular printer. Bars are then used for crafting. Five ore produces one bar, plus some crystite and research points. Although some ores have real market value (titanium and uranium), it is usually better to sell bars because the credit profit is the same, but when you do the refining yourself, you get the research points and crystite. Further, the demand versus supply ratio for bars is slightly better.

Thumper Types

Levels

  • Standard thumpers can mine iron ore.
  • Level I thumpers can mine tungsten.
  • Level II thumpers can mine titanium.
  • Level III thumpers can mine uranium.

Capacity

  • Each level provides an additional 25 ore capacity, starting at 250 ore with a standard personal thumper.
  • Squad thumpers provide an additional 50 ore capacity as compared to personal thumpers of the same level.
  • The total capacity includes useless dirt. For example, a location with 20% tungsten should provide 60 tungsten ore when using a thumper with a capacity of 300 ore.
  • If you complete 100% of the thumper mining operation, then you receive a bonus equal to capacity of the thumper. For example, a personal level III thumper operation provides a bonus 325 resources.

Loot Sharing

  • Personal thumpers are designed for use by one or two people and the payload is divided among the participants according to their contribution. So, if you complete a level II job with one other person and you each do half of the work, then you will each receive 150 resources plus a 300 resource bonus for 100% completion, for a total of 450 resources (including dirt).
  • Squad thumpers are designed for groups of four or five, have a higher capacity, and provide the full thumper capacity worth of resources to each squad member. For example, if you are mining using a level II squad thumper with one other person, then you would each receive 350 resources plus a bonus 250 resources for completing 100% of the operation, for a total of 700 resources (including dirt).

Personal versus Squad

The choice between a personal and squad thumper comes down to the size and experience of your group  as compared to the level of the area you are in. The reason not to do squad thumpers every time is that they are attacked by stronger and more numerous enemies. Toward the end of every thump, the enemies become more difficult. Personal thumpers might start challenging you with large individual units like Sand Drinkers or Melded Variants, and squad thumpers will always include chosen drop pods. The key is to identify what material you are interested in mining, find the lowest level area that supports that resource, and then use the highest capacity thumper your squad can withstand. So, your group of three might not be able to complete a squad level II thumper, but will do just fine with a personal level III thumper. Remember that thumpers themselves are expensive (500 credits for a personal and 1500 credits for a squad level III thumper), so don’t fail because you will lose your thumper.

Other Considerations

Best Battleframes

Crowd control classes fare better with thumper mining. These include battleframes that use area effects or turrets, like the Firecat, Recluse, and Bastion. The Nighthawk is a great supporting class if you have a group because they can pick off some of the ranged assailants and also use incendiary rounds to produce an area effect around the thumper. However, a Nighthawk cannot easily protect the thumper against the swarms alone. If using an engineer, turrets with ‘deployment’ customization components and modules are preferred. Two bastions with deployment outfitted abilities can easily place 20 guns on target. You will find that thumping becomes very easy when the number of turrets outnumbers the number of enemies. A Firecat with premium gear can lay down enough DPS to handle a squad level III thumper single handed. So, though there isn’t one solution for thumping, there are definitely preferred battleframes.

Biological Mining

What if you have a taste for carbon, semiconductors, and other crafting resources? The answer is biological mining. In other words, mining which is focused on killing the swarms of attacking enemies and collecting their loot, as opposed to finishing the mining operation and collecting metals.

This type of mining is very easy because you don’t need to identify a resource node and you don’t have to worry about completing the thumper operation. As such, you should use a squad thumper to maximize the number of biologicals you attract. At about 75% completion, send the thumper away in order to avoid the chosen drop. Or, send it away right at the beginning of the drop so that you don’t lose your thumper, but you can harvest chosen. You can also do this type of mining in low level areas like Coral Forest and still make a lot of money mining biologicals. Carbon powder is worth 13 credits per unit and semiconductors are worth 4 credits per unit. You might get 10 bone fragments (1 carbon powder each), from a single thump, which amounts to 130 credits. Not bad.

Dark Crystite

In Devils Tusk you will find that there are nodes for dark crystite. This was used to make crystite cores during the melding push back event, but doesn’t have a current use.