These are islands of a single resource type in the middle of the ocean, surrounding a Draconian base, ranging in level from 1 to 10 in Battle Pirates. As mine level goes up, so does the speed of mining. Like the salvage fleets, the defending Draconians are more powerful for higher level mines, though not as powerful as the same level of salvage. A level 6 mine has the same guarding fleet as a level 4 salvage. Unlike the salvage fleets, you won't always have to fight to capture a mine.
The Draconians send out fleets regularly (about once per hour) to recapture player-owned mines. If the owner doesn't have a fleet there, the mine returns to the Draconians and the next player to attack it will face a full healthy fleet. If the owner is there but loses, the next player will face a damaged fleet. And finally, if the owner voluntarily releases the mine when they're done mining, the mine will fly a Draconian flag but won't have a defending fleet at all - the Draconians think they already own it and therefore they don't need to send a fleet to fight for it. This makes it much easier for the next prospective miner.
The owner can also release the mine while mining if a Draconian fleet heads toward it. This will cause the fleet to touch the mine, discover their own flag, then turn around and go back to their base. The owner can then recapture and resume mining.
First, you can't permanently own a mine even if you could somehow defend it from all other players, which you can't unless you don't plan to do anything else in the game except defend mines. It's not worth the repair bills, really. Eventually the Draconians will wear your fleet(s) down while you sleep, while other players attack your unguarded base. Instead, think of the resource mines more like gas stations.
In Battle Pirates high level mines have massively powerful fleets and are extremely difficult to capture.Releasing the mine voluntarily causes these fleets not to be there. Thus, the nice thing to do is to release the mine whenever you're done using it, especially if it's a high level one. Even if you're planning to come right back to mine some more, releasing it in between ensures that the Draconians won't steal it in your absence.
Finally, when first approaching a mine, send your fleet to a spot next to it rather than capture it directly. Sometimes someone else is heading for the same mine and gets there first. If your fleet is set to capture, it will attack their fleet.
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