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I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Guide: Introduction to Incursions, Part 2

This document continues from Part 1 of the Introduction to Incursions guide I wrote yesterday.  If you haven't read Part 1, you should do so before continuing on to this one.


Step 4: A Little Bling

This next "step" isn't a step at all so much as it will be a constant journey.

You've got your incursion ship.  It's fitted out as suggested in Part 1 and it's ready to go.  It's nothing special... just a T1 battleship.  Let's suppose that it's this Tempest, in fact:

[Tempest, Incursion]
Damage Control II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II

Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Sensor Booster II, Scan Resolution
Large Shield Extender II

800mm Heavy 'Scout' Repeating Artillery I, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Heavy 'Scout' Repeating Artillery I, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Heavy 'Scout' Repeating Artillery I, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Heavy 'Scout' Repeating Artillery I, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Heavy 'Scout' Repeating Artillery I, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Heavy 'Scout' Repeating Artillery I, Republic Fleet EMP L
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Caldari Navy Paradise Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Caldari Navy Paradise Cruise Missile

Large Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I

Hobgoblin II x5
Medium Shield Maintenance Bot I x5


This isn't a ship that's going to blow the doors off anyone, but it's well-fit and ready to enter incursion sites.  It'll do just fine all the way up to HQ sites as long as you learn when to broadcast for reps.  It'll probably even do well in a mothership site.  With a good pilot aboard, it hits the suggested 750 DPS mark with room to spare, and the fitting shows that you've put some thought into what your role is and how you'll fulfill it.  It's not particularly skill-intensive, and it's not particularly expensive.  You even invested in some faction ammo.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, the most efficient sites in terms of making ISK are the 10-man Vanguard sites.  You find yourself being invited to a few Vanguards here and there, but you're competing in the same turret DPS category with Nightmares and Machariels.  You set your sights on a Machariel as a long-term goal.  It uses the same heavy projectile weapons you're already somewhat skilled in.  But it's an expensive ship: anywhere from 850 million to a billion ISK for the hull alone.  You're being picked up for incursion fleets occasionally in your Tempest, but not often enough that you're going to be in the Machariel any time before your next birthday.

What are the interim steps that will help you get picked up faster and more often?  That's where a little bit of bling comes in.  You want to pimp out your ship some, particularly in ways that help the fleet.  And done correctly, pimping out your ship can be done in such a way that it's actually an investment in your future goals.

For T1 ships, look at your ship in much the same way as you would an L4 mission boat.  When and if you were solo'ing L4s, you bought upgrades that helped you with that process, right?  Incursions are no different.  Start by plotting out your mid- and long-term ship goals.  If you want to go from Tempest to Machariel, it's a good idea to plan an interim step or two.  You can go with a Maelstrom, or take the faction route instead and go for a Tempest Fleet Issue.  Let's suppose you're a Clear Skies fan and decide on the latter route.

The TFI tanks much better than the base Tempest, and has much the same stats.  You can peel off your LSE2 -- the TFI tanks just fine without it.  That opens up a mid slot.  The TFI also has one more low slot than the base Tempest.  This gives you the opportunity to add a third Tracking Enhancer, or a fourth Gyrostab.  You also pick up 25m3 of additional drone space.  You can fill that with the mining drones that are needed by one Vanguard site.

Now start upgrading mods.  The open mid slot is a good place to start.  Find a relative inexpensive faction webber and put that into the slot vacated by the LSE2.  A Shadow Serpentis web is a good choice.  It's not the best, but you're not a dedicated web platform and you're saving for your Machariel.  But it shows that you recognize what a Vanguard fleet's challenges are and you want to help.  As you continue to build up ISK, next, invest in some faction Gyrostabs.  A set of three will cost around 250-275 million, but are mods that you can carry with you from ship to ship.  They add about 40 DPS and the Machariel you're planning on will love them.  They're also a good investment; faction damage mods retain their value very well if you ever want to sell them.

Your thermal resistance is right at 70%, so another good investment is a Tech2 Large Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer.  Not only does this increase your resistance by 2%, training for Shield Rigging IV reduces the penalty for your shield rigs, lowers your signature radius, and reduces the overall damage you take.

Next, get busy training for those Tech2 guns!  A lot of FCs won't take you seriously as a battleship pilot until you're using them.  In the meantime, you can also invest in a set of faction weapons if you like.  This is particularly popular for those on the Raven track; Caldari Navy Cruise Missile Launchers are quite effective.  As your weapon skills improve, you'll find that the third Tracking Enhancer becomes less necessary and you can replace it with a fourth, non-faction Gyrostab.

Here's your mid-point ship:

[Tempest Fleet Issue, Incursion]
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Republic Fleet Gyrostabilizer
Gyrostabilizer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Tracking Enhancer II
Damage Control II

Invulnerability Field II
Invulnerability Field II
Photon Scattering Field II
Sensor Booster II, Scan Resolution
Shadow Serpentis Stasis Webifier

800mm Repeating Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP L
800mm Repeating Artillery II, Republic Fleet EMP L
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Caldari Navy Paradise Cruise Missile
'Arbalest' Cruise Launcher I, Caldari Navy Paradise Cruise Missile

Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Core Defence Field Extender I
Large Anti-Thermal Screen Reinforcer II

Hobgoblin II x5
Medium Shield Maintenance Bot I x5
Mining Drone I x5


You're fast approaching 1000 DPS!  By this point, you should be getting picked up much more frequently.  You're not a Mach (yet), but you pump out very solid damage.  Even better, your faction mods can follow you to your Mach and you're not going to have any trouble at all selling your TFI to another up-and-coming incursioner.  It'll even draw a premium with the T2 rig pre-fit.

This slow-and-steady upgrading of your incursion ship (or ships) is going to quickly become a focus point if you're at all serious about running incursions as an ISK source.  The more pimped out your ship, the more frequently you'll get picked by FCs, which in turn will give you a solid cashflow that you can use to further pimp out your ship.  Best of all, none of the ISK you've spent along the way is wasted.  All of it builds toward your ultimate goal, and once you're within a few hundred million of the Mach, you can sell the TFI to make up the difference.

Of course, if you're in the happy position to be able to invest a large sum of ISK in your incursion ship right up front, you can jump straight to the head of the line without any of the interim steps.  ;-)

Each class ship has this same progression.  Raven pilots should slowly upgrade their T1 Raven but have an eye toward moving into a RNI or Scorpion Navy Issue, or perhaps even a Nightmare (which uses Caldari Battleship skill).  They will be purchsing the same T2 large rig and webber, but will pimp out their ship with faction Ballistic Control Systems or perhaps faction Cruise Missile Launchers.  They may also go for a faction Target Painter.  Tengu pilots will soon want faction Ballistic Control Systems as well.  Loki pilots will go for the best faction webs they can afford followed by faction Gyrostabs.  And so on.

In general, when upgrading, you'll want to balance our ISK outlays to both a) improve your chances of being picked by an FC, and b) make the fleet that you're a part of better.

Some pilots will choose to pimp out their defenses, and this is also valid, though less valuable to the fleet as a whole.  If you are having CPU fitting problems, it can often help to fit a Dread Guristas Photon Scattering Field, for instance, which uses much less CPU than the T2 version (faction damage mods will also help with fitting issues, since they also use less CPU).  Pilots looking to improve their sig radius might go for a faction LSE, or Tech2 Core Defence Field Extenders.  Particularly well-off pilots might even fit a Dread Guristas or Caldari Navy Invulnerability Field.  If the only bling on your ship applies to your own defense, though, don't expect the FC to be impressed!  While your defense means you won't die as easily, these upgrades aren't helping the fleet do its job.

To summarize, when buying bling, prioritize in the following order if you can:
  • Faction or T2 ammo (everyone should use this!);
  • Faction electronic warfare, such as webbers or painters;
  • Faction damage mods (Gyrostabs, Magnetic Field Stabs, BCSs);
  • Tech2 rigs, particularly on faction, T2, or T3 hulls;
  • Tech2 weapons (with T2 ammo) or faction weapons; and,
  • Faction defenses.

And of course, dead-space modules can be substituted for faction modules when desired.  I'd caution against advertising too heavily that you have them fit, though!  It's perfectly acceptable to claim to be using a faction module when it's actually dead-space.  While advertising your ship as better than it is is unethical and risks you getting banned from the official incursion channels, advertising your ship as worse than it actually is is acceptable, to reduce the risk of griefing or suicide ganks.


Step 5: Oooh!  Pick me!  Pick me!

Your next step is to be to get picked up by a fleet.  To do that, you're going to have to be in the right place.

The main in-game shield fleet channel is BTL PUB.  Join that channel as soon as you've decided to get into incursions.  The first thing that you'll notice is the channel's message of the day (MOTD) which will tell you which incursion is the channel's "focus"... in other words, the constellation that you'll want to travel to.  Get your ship into that constellation.  You're also going to need extra cargo, so either cargo-fit your ship temporarily with Expanded Cargohold mods in the lows, or use a second account in a hauler or Orca to bring the extra cargo you'll be needing.  That cargo is extra faction ammo, extra standard ammo, extra drones, Nanite Repair Paste, extra modules, an afterburner appropriate to your ship's size, and more extra ammo.  Incursions are sometimes rather distant from the inexpensive market hubs.  If you get into a fleet and really get to burning ammo, you don't want to be forced into a choice between over-priced incursion market ammo and a dozen or more jumps to get to the closest non-incursion market.

As you travel, watch BTL PUB.  You'll soon realize that there's a standard method for advertising one's ship.  There are also standard acronyms.  Among them:
  • LF = Looking For
  • SF = Shield Fleet
  • VG = Vanguard (10-man incursion sites)
  • AS = Assault (20-man incursion sites)
  • HQ = Headquarters (40-man incursion sites)

Pilots will link their ship fittings so that you can click them and see how they're fit.  Smart pilots will advertise themselves by location and their ship's role, not its name.  Unless your ship name is exceptionally clever and will demand people click on it to find out what it does, you're best served by advertising your ship based on its role and something unique about it.  For instance, I advertise my Basilisk under the name "Logi5 VG RSebo Basi".  That says in very few characters what I'm looking for (Vanguards), what I'm flying (Basilisk), and something interesting I bring to the table (Logistics V skill and a Remote Sensor Booster).  All I have to add is the region that I'm in to my advertisement and I'm done.

So, get into EVE's fitting screen, and save your ship fitting.  Before clicking the "Save" button, change the name to the new name you've chosen.  Then, all you need to do to advertise yourself is to drag that ship fitting name into the channel, add a the appropriate acronyms if needed, and indicate where you are.

Make sure your CSPA charge is set to 0 ISK.  This is done in your EVE mail settings.  Nobody will invite you to fleet if they have to pay to do it.  ;-)

Keep in mind three things about advertising yourself:
  1. Don't bother doing it if you're not going to link your ship fitting.  FCs won't pick you up unless they can see what they're getting.  As noted above, don't lie, unless it's to make your ship worse than it actually is (to avoid griefers).
  2. If you get suggestions on how to improve your fitting, particularly if you hear the same suggestions over and over again, heed them!  Chances are, the people giving you those suggestions know what they're talking about.
  3. Don't spam!  Posting your fleet every five minutes or so is about right.  Anything more often is annoying and will actually reduce your chances of being picked up.

If you're picked up, it'll probably be in the first 30-45 seconds after you post your fitting.  You will appear in the fleet chat after accepting the fleet invitation.  First priority, find out what exact system the fleet is in.  Someone will probably link it right in fleet so you can Set Destination.  If they don't, just ask "System?"  Second thing, get on EVE Voice.  The FC will be issuing audible orders over EVE voice and general fleet chit-chat will happen on that venue as well.  It's not completely necessary to have a headset for incursion fleets, but having headphones or a set of speakers is more or less vital.


Step 6: Welcome to the Fleet

As you approach the fleet's system, you will almost certainly hear them running a site.  You've probably been chosen to replace one of the fleet's existing ships.  Typically, you'll want to warp to the system you've been linked, then warp to planet one.  Alternately, you might be aksed to warp directly to the FC if the fleet is between sites or is still picking up members.

While some FCs may broadcast targets, most will expect you to follow tags.  I've written an entire guide on tags alone that you should definitely read.  Still, I'll include some of the basics in this guide.

In a previous section, you decided on what type of role your ship is going to play.  For the non-logistics ships, there are five types of tags:
There are five types of tags:
Full Fleet tags:  0 and 1
DPS tags:2 through 9
Sniper tags:A through I
Drone tags:X through Z
Trigger tag:J

"Full Fleet" tags, 0 and 1, represent targets that the FC or tagger has designated for all available DPS.  This means that DPS ships and sniper ships will both attack targets with these tags.  The drone FC (if your fleet is using one) will also attack these targets.  In addition, any time that a target is tagged 0 or 1, no matter your role and what you are attacking, you will shift your fire to the newly-designated 0 or 1 tag.  This will most often happen when a new spawn enters the field.

Otherwise, if you are a DPS ship, you will be shooting at targets in numerical order, starting with target 0 and ascending to target 9.  Once target 9 is destroyed, you will continue with the lowest number target, whatever that may be.  Watch for the creation of new tag 0 and 1 targets if they are created.  In addition, listen to the FC for change of orders, which may happen occasionally, particularly in higher level or Sansha Mothership sites.  In addition, you may occasionally be called upon to fire on sniper targets "until they are out of range."  If that is the case, use the optimal ranges of your weapons as a guide to determine when that is.

Snipers will shoot targets 0 and 1 as needed, but will then attack targets in alphabetical order, from A through I.  Again, watch for the creation of new tag 0 and 1 targets and redirect fire as needed to those targets.

Do not attack target J until directed to do so!  If a target is tagged J, this represents the trigger target that will cause a new wave to spawn.  Attacking triggers out of order is the quickest way to be black-listed and prevented from attending future large incursion fleets.

Remember to broadcast for reps if you need them.  In Vanguards, the proper time to do this is as soon as you see yourself red-boxed by the Sansha.  In Assaults and HQs, the proper time to do this is as soon as you see yourself yellow-boxed.  These higher-level sites produce much more alpha volley damage and if you wait for that damage to hit you to broadcast, the logistics will be starting your reps with you already bleeding shields heavily... not a position that anyone wants to be in.  Also, make sure that your broadcast setting is set such that broadcasts will be sent to everyone.  This is the small box in the bottom right corner of the Fleet display.  Make sure it's showing a cross made of arrows.

It's also a good idea to watch the Fleet Broadcast History.  The FC will quite often broadcast align points or warp-off points, particularly between sites.

All of this is summed up in the following graphic:


Running incursions is a social activity!  If the FC calls open comms, do not be afraid to chit-chat.  It's often the side conversations that happen while an incursion is running that are the most interesting part of running incursions.  ;-)

Finally, now that you have the basics, feel free to read the full BTL PUB incursion guide!  You can find it at the BTL Incursion Guide.


That concludes part 2.  Part 3 will discuss the differences that are needed for armor fleets in incursions.  Part 4 will wrap up with a detailed discussion of being a logistics ship in an incursion.

Link to Part 3.

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