Incursion Do and Don’t

Recently, when things have been slow in the home anoiki, I’ve hauled my alt out to Incursion space to make some cash.  Now, I’ve always been pretty frank that my characters have quite low skillpoints, since I’ve only been playing this game since February 2013 (as of this writing, the current date is August 2013).  I make up for their low SP by specializing in certain roles, and this remains one of Eve’s strengths: a rank newbie who spends a week specializing in a role can make a meaningful contribution in the largest of fleet battles.

My alt’s role is Logistics. I learned far too late that the preferred doctrine for Incursions is not armor fleets, but shield. Alas. Nevertheless, a couple of Incursion communities that fly armor exist, and were pretty easy to find. Within just a few minutes of looking around on the Eve forums, I’d found information regarding “The Ditanian Fleet”, signed up for their mailing lists, and was configuring a Guardian in a station.

I’ve now flown with them off and on for several weeks, and by and large it’s been a very chill, fun, and relaxed experience. They are extremely newbie-friendly and also very inclusive of less-than-optimal fits. That means TDF fleets tend to earn a little bit less ISK per hour than some of their highly-optimized cousin fleets, but I really like their low-pressure, “come as you are and we’ll talk you through improving at your role” approach.

That said, though, there are some minimum standards expected of the community.  In fact, the cost of most of their common fits would make most average missioners & miners gasp at their expense: typically starting at half a billion for Logistics fits, up to several billion ISK for sniper pirate faction fits.

It may seem elitist, but it’s all a matter of scale.  Four billion for a good battleship represents about forty hours of Incursion fleet-ups.  Compared to many MMOs, to be able to field a top-flight PvE toon’s gear in just forty hours is crazy fast. Eve is a little different, of course, due to inherent gerontocracy with multiple tiers of ships.  Plus the fact one can lose all one’s stuff in an instant, but still. Not a huge investment compared to many games.

At the lowest end, a 1600mm plate and “e-nam” (ENergized Adaptive Nano Membrane) and a damage control are expected so that players have a lower chance of getting destroyed by the combination of electronic warfare and heavy volley damage the Sansha’s Nation NPCs put out.  The DCU is negotiable if the armor tank suffices in other ways, as often is the case with Logi ships.

Logistics ships are typically the easiest way into Incursion fleets.  They are almost always in demand, and are incredibly important.  A fleet might enter the site if a DPS ship is AFK, but unless they know their logi is on the ball, they typically won’t even enter the site.  Ultimately if we lose our Logi, we’ll almost certainly lose at least one more expensive ship in the fleet if you we bug out due to warp scramblers.  However, Logistics ships still remain fairly cheap.  Even the seemingly-prohibitive Logistics fitting requirements are really inexpensive compared to the shiny ships the Logi are protecting.

To get started, a typical fleet Guardian looks something like below. The second mid-slot is a wildcard, but most often you’ll find a remote sensor booster or ECCM unit there. It’s fairly cheap and effective, but does demand a minimum of Logistics IV skills and a dual-cap-transfer from another ship to fly effectively:

[Guardian, Typical]

Damage Control II
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I
Energized Adaptive Nano Membrane II
Type-D Power Core Modification: Reaction Control
Thermic Plating II

Experimental 10MN Afterburner I
Remote Sensor Booster II, Scan Resolution Script

Large ‘Solace’ Remote Armor Repairer
Large ‘Solace’ Remote Armor Repairer
Large ‘Solace’ Remote Armor Repairer
Large ‘Solace’ Remote Armor Repairer
Large ‘Regard’ Remote Capacitor Transmitter
Large ‘Regard’ Remote Capacitor Transmitter

Medium Ancillary Current Router I
Medium Ancillary Current Router I

Nothing wrong with that fit. I have a bunch in my hangar very similar to this, and they work very well across a variety of situations. I’ll normally throw in a ECCM in my mids for PvP, and the remote sensor booster as shown for PvE.  With average skills, you have about 23,000 to 26,000EHP in your armor, which is sufficient to weather an alpha strike from Class 6 Sleepers and most Sansha non-mothership/non-HQ Incursion sites.

The problem is that in some cases, that particular Guardian in certain Incursion sites is going to pop like a water balloon.

You see, at the start of an Incursion, Sansha control over the systems is very high. The local Incursionists will quickly fill in and start reversing the trend, but in some systems that control exerts an extremely powerful effect: it dramatically reduces your ship’s resistances to damage.  This effect is weakest in Staging systems, stronger through Vanguard and Assault, and strongest in the HQ. I’ve watched enormously-tanked 4.5Bn pirate-faction battleships get vaporized in less than ten seconds in HQ sites. It’s kind of scary.

The above fit with typical mediocre/rookie skills drops from about 67% electromagnetic resistance to barely above 50% in a fully-incursed HQ site. That is a HUGE drop, taking this fit with average skills down to as low as 17,000EHP of armor against EM/thermal damage types.

A Sansha alpha volley in non-mothership sites can be as much as 18,000EHP or more — much of it EM/thermal — and worse if the ships aren’t handled in the right order.

You see the problem.

Admittedly, off-grid boosters help with this situation a lot. So does the Guardian’s teeny, tiny sig radius. So does keeping the afterburner lit and speed high to minimize missile damage.  So does the use of Slave implants to boost armor HP.   So do the efforts of your fellow Incursionists minimizing Sansha influence by taking sites.

However, there are many fights against the Sansha that somewhat-unlikely events are bound to happen.  Like the OGB disconnecting.  Like one of the Guardians getting jammed for so long that his partner runs out of cap and can’t repair anybody. Like the third Logistics guy — if running with a third — getting stuck on the gate while trying to enter the site.

Yep. I’ve seen all this happen at the same time TWICE, and I’ve only been doing Incursions a few weeks.  I can chalk some of it up to inexperience, but sometimes it’s just dumb luck.  I’ve warped right into the gate model before and been stuck despite my best efforts to get out for several minutes.

When that kind of thing goes down, I fall back on my core skills and fitting.  And when that particular bit of fecal matter strikes the rotating impeller, I want a fit that looks a lot more like this, along with perhaps some Logistics or Slave implants to back it up and help my squad weather the misfortune:

[Guardian, Shiny Fit]

Centii A-Type Adaptive Nano Plating
Centii A-Type Adaptive Nano Plating
Corpii A-Type EM Plating
Shadow Serpentis Armor Thermic Hardener
1600mm Reinforced Rolled Tungsten Plates I

Corelum C-Type 10MN Afterburner
Remote Sensor Booster II, Scan Resolution Script

Large Remote Armor Repairer II
Large Remote Armor Repairer II
Large Remote Armor Repairer II
Large Remote Armor Repairer II
Large Remote Capacitor Transmitter II
Large Remote Capacitor Transmitter II

Medium Ancillary Current Router II
Medium Ancillary Current Router II

Genolution Core Augmentation CA-1
Genolution Core Augmentation CA-2

Now, this fit costs three times as much as the first fit (about 500M-700M instead of 170M-200M). That’s a lot, and not the kind of fit I expect from someone brand-new to Incursions. But it is what most expect after a few weeks.  And the difference is RADICAL.  Over 80% resists to everything.  39,000 to 44,500EHP in armor alone, that under the influence of a Sansha HQ effect drops to 26,000 to 30,000EHP while still boasting better than 70% resists to everything before the off-grid booster is taken into effect.

Which is enough to tank a volley or two easily, particularly if — like many experienced Incursion Guardian pilots — you add a few Slave implants to boost your raw EHP to cover just such eventualities.

The tech 2 reppers & cap transfers help with faster reps, taking reps off people faster, and an easier time giving out capacitor quickly in sites with MWD-equipped fleets. It’s not a night-and-day difference, but as with everything else in Eve, that extra 10% really matters under some circumstances.

Now, the second fit and implants is not what’s expected of new pilots.  Newbies are going to arrive in much worse shape. For a Guardian pilot, though, a minimum expectation is that they’ll have fitted dual Medium Ancillary Current Router II rigs to their Guardian in order to make enough powergrid to get good resists and handle the worst-case scenarios. If they can’t fit it, then the FC usually knows someone who can fit it on their behalf. The MACR 2 has no drawbacks to the ship fitting except price.

And now, the story…

So last night while Incursioning, I was working with a FC I’ve teamed up with a bit here and there.  He shall remain nameless because, well, although he’s very competent, he’s also the kind of FC who everybody likes to work with because he’s so damn good at the job.  In fact, I’d say that his intolerance for bullshit and quick temper is part of what makes him effective. Despite having to bite my tongue a few times in fleet I will fly with him again as much as I possibly can, because fleets under his command make so damn much ISK.

Seriously.

It’s amazing.

Shut up.

Sit down.

Do your job.

Do what the FC says.

Watch your wallet bounce like a freaking STROBE LIGHT to the incoming ISK notifications under his command.

I’d done about two hours worth of sites after a 1-hour delay getting the fleet together due to a shortage of other Logistics pilots, and was ready to be done for the night. A new face pops up in the TDF channel, links their Guardian fit, and is quickly invited to the fleet to replace me.  The pilot joins our Teamspeak channel, and is obviously the “enthusiastic rookie” type, with a slightly-modified variant of the above newbie fit.

The discussion of the rookie’s fit started even before he joined the channel.  “He’s only got tech 1 rigs,” said the FC. “How’s he fitting that?”

“He has a reactor control instead of an EM plate,” I helpfully replied.

“Ahh, that explains it. I’ve seen that before.  I think we’ll be OK for tonight with him and I like giving the new guys some experience even if their fits aren’t perfect yet. But you always gotta be improving your fit, right? If you’ve been in fleets with me and come to me with the same bad fit six months from now that you started with, I’m probably not going to invite you to my fleet because you’re not re-investing back into your ship so you can do the job better.”

The rookie joined the channel, and after a brief introduction and hello, the FC spoke.  “So bro, we’ll take you on Vanguards tonight, but you gotta upgrade your rigs to tech 2 some time.  Your resists are pretty bad right now.”

“What’s wrong with the rigs?” the Enthusiastic Rookie replied, “I’ve always used them on my Guardians and have never had a problem with capacitor.”

Blink.

Blink.

Blink.

Those rigs are for FITTING, not capacitor. The rookie obviously misunderstood what the FC was saying.

“Uh, right,” replied the FC, “I don’t really care about your cap. You’re logi 5.”

“Exactly,” replied the rookie, “and I don’t see a need to change those rigs out for something else based on the advice of some random FC because they don’t give me any cap problems.”

Blink. I avoid the push-to-talk button. This guy is pushing the wrong buttons.

“Those rigs are for fitting. You have a a reactor control in your lows, which means your resists are…” the FC trailed off for a moment, clearly hooking the fit into EFT or Pyfa or some other tool, “as low as the high sixty percents in EM and thermal, depending on your skills.  We usually don’t accept people into the fleet unless they can show better than 70% resists to everything. I’ll make an exception tonight, but you’ll need to upgrade soon.”

“Look,” replied the rookie defensively, “I’ve flown almost this exact fit in class 5 wormholes for the past six months, and in Incursions for the past week. I know what I’m doing, I know how to fly my ship, and this fit is fine for what you’re doing.”

“Oh, you’ve been flying incursions a whole week now, have you?” replied the FC sarcastically. “Try three years of this shit like me. I’ve watched Logis get popped by the alpha from Vanguards before fit just like you.  I was not telling you to go change your ship right now. I was saying you need to upgrade for the future. You’ll be fine for tonight.”

“I don’t need this; I don’t need some random internet guy telling me how to fit my ship!” shouted the rookie.

At that point, the conversation devolved further; I’ve only highlighted the beginning. The rookie pilot was eventually kicked from the Teamspeak server due to his raving — which he later blamed on being very tired — and then decided to take the argument back to the TDF channel.  I changed some names.  Because as always, my stories reflect heavy editing and interpretation of reality.

rookie> look i just dont need some one to tell me how to fly my own ship its been fine all week running vanguards havent even had a problem with mine or my ability to keep others alive i ran a HQ site earlyer today and was perfectly fine he is the first FC
rookie> to have a problem with my fitting i have done logi in C5 wormholes and in PVP i have never lost a ship while i was logi in ether
rookie > thats all i have to say
Some Lady > right now… you are making me laugh so hard rookie, ahaha
rookie > good for you
Some Lady > you come off super defensive like a child
rookie > look frankly i could care less
Some Lady > then why do you play eve again?
rookie > i play eve because i enjoy it i dont see why my inability to give a f— what you think impacts that but ok
Spewer > oh my…
Some Lady > I have to say, you are giving a lot of f—- through emotion
Some Lady > just chill man.
Some Lady > you came in with a bad attitude, and you don’t expect this?
rookie > i came in with a perfectly fine attitude i still have a perfectly fine attitude now if you would please drop it and move on
Nefertiti Ravenstorm > don’t like an FC? don’t fly with him
Some Lady > hmmm, I forgot how angry one has to be to not care or actually listen to what people say, regardless on how respectful I come off 🙂
rookie > im not

I highlight the above experience mostly to illustrate some basic do’s and don’ts about how to handle oneself when trying out Incursions, based upon my very brief experience so far doing so.  In several weeks flying, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard this kind of extremely defensive response to an FC’s fitting recommendations, and I’ve never heard an FC lose their temper before.

  • Don’t assume your experience applies; unless you’ve flown that armor ship against Sleeper escalations in a Class 6 Pulsar effect, your wormhole experience just doesn’t apply to Sansha incursions space.
  • Don’t fight with the FC.
  • Do be polite.
  • Do thank people for their advice, even if you have absolutely no intention of following it.
  • Do spend a little extra ISK to make the right impression with your ship fitting.  And if you fly a Guardian, there’s currently only one right way to rig your ship to pass muster with most FCs: dual Medium Ancillary Current Router IIs.
  • Pay attention to the fittings you see in the channels which get accepted quickly; there are a lot of terrible fits which get linked over and over because their owners can’t find a fleet willing to take them.
  • Do join Teamspeak chat with the FC to get an idea if you want to fly with him/her.  You’ll be spending several hours together at a minimum; not all of them are people you’ll get along with well.
  • Oh. And tip your boosters. Seriously, the OGB needs some love.

Immediately arguing with the FC over a fit, posting rude remarks to the incursion channel, and bragging about how good a fit is in a context that’s almost completely irrelevant (PvP or Wormholes) to the needs of the Incursion is a good way to find oneself fleet-less for hours.

It’s challenging to listen more than talk. I know. I’m in love with the sound of my own voice, and largely write this kind of stuff so I can re-read it and pat myself on the back.  And yet, whenever I’m doing something new for the first time — Incursions, a new job, or moving into a new neighborhood — I’ve found it really pays off to listen quietly for a while before opening my mouth and showing how little I really know.

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5 responses to “Incursion Do and Don’t

  1. As always, great build-up to a good story. I’ve never attempted Incursions yet and have avoided Amarr cruiser V for a while now. If it’s in your power, you can always warp to 10km of the acceleration gates. Like stations, they are very massive and you’d still be at zero from this distance. We bump gates a lot in Factional Warfare.

  2. Good advice, thanks for the tip on the gates! I may start trying that and see how we land.

    When it comes to choosing armor logi, just remember that both types — Oneiros and Guardian — get heavily-used, but in different circumstances. In certain types of Vanguards, they’ll only want Guardians due to heavy cap needs for the battleships running microwarpdrives. In other types, they’ll strongly prefer two or three Oneiroses (“Static Fleets”, that is jump-in-and-park types, particularly). In assaults and HQs, it’s typically an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing, so they’ll usually take whatever they can get within reason.

    The truth is, you’ll get more play time running shield incursions than armor. It’s just a much, much larger community. But the TDF guys have their act together, are very newbie-friendly, and provide a great experience with a solid core of very dedicated, experienced fleet commanders.

    • Thanks, more good advice. However my immediate interest in logi is from a PvP stance, being a wormhole fellow. And as you stated in your post that is a whole different game, but perhaps I will look into incursions sometime in the future! I’ll keep TDF in mind.

  3. Pingback: LOGISTICS SHIPS, GUARDIAN | Hoplite EVE Corp

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