Welcome to Jester's Trek.
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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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Safety dance

It's funny, given how little time I actually spend in EVE "bearing" how much I know about it.

Most of it is just the fact that I pay attention.  I'm detail-oriented anyway, but I'm also interested in process.  My real-life job often revolves around taking a set of broken processes, figuring out what is and isn't working, discarding the latter, and rebuilding into a system that works.  It's hard not to take these skills into EVE.  I'm not sure I'd be the best choice for building something from scratch, but if you give me something that's sorta already working, after a short period of time, I can tell you how it's working today and make suggestions for how to make it work better tomorrow.

The rest?  My preferred way of playing EVE is not to be bearing, so if I must bear, I want it to be handled as quickly as possible and over just as soon as it can be.  ;-)  That motivates me to learn how to bear just as fast and as efficiently as possible.

I'm not particularly surprised at all the heat I'm taking over my incursion post yesterday.  I expected it and all the comments have been great reading.  Still, four major lines of discussion have formed and two of them deserve special attention.  One of them revolves around low-sec incursions and the reluctance of EVE players to brave them.  Most of this reluctance, unsurprisingly, revolves around a desire not to be blown up.  I've covered how risk-averse EVE players are before and I'm not going to do so again.

But the question of how PvE happens alongside the risk of getting blown up deserves to be covered.

PvE happens in low-sec, null-sec, and wormhole space every minute of every hour of every day in EVE.  And sure, people get blown up occasionally.  But you know what?  If you take even the most basic safety precautions, it becomes nearly impossible to catch, much less destroy, someone doing PvE in low-sec, null-sec, or wormhole space.  There are a lot of precautions that are easy to take and they're worth covering.  There are six basic ones:
  1. Intel channels.  This is pretty much what it sounds like.  Though you can't do this in W-space, in low or null, intel channels are very common.  It's simply a channel that everyone in a particular area of space monitors.  If someone in that space sees an enemy gang moving around, they report it in the channel so everyone knows.  If that person can see what types of ships are being flown, that information is relayed as well.  In some regions of space, you can't get more than one or two jumps in before your gang's composition is reported for everyone to see, because of...
  2. Passive scouts.  These are alt characters in T1 cloaky frigates, sitting 75km or so off of gates or wormholes in a direction away from the system's celestials.  If anyone jumps through the gate, they report it either to active fleets, the intel channel, or both.  As they see ships decloak and warp off, they report numbers and types of ships.
  3. Staging POSes.  When PvE happens in low, null, or wormhole space, you can bet that there's a POS in that system.  As soon as danger lurks, the pilot or fleet warps to the POS and stays there until the danger passes.  98% of the time, the danger in question is not going to take on a POS.
  4. Cyno jamming.  This is mostly the province of null-sec.  A big danger to larger fleets there is that of getting "hot-dropped" by either a capital ship fleet or a sub-capital fleet guided there by a Titan's bridge.  A cyno jammer prevents this from happening by preventing the ability to light a cyno that will bring in the enemy fleet.  Bridging and hot-dropping are the PvPer's way of side-stepping passive scouts and intel channels.  If the system is cyno jammed, though, this tactic won't work.
  5. Prioritize scramming rats.  This is a basic one: if you're bearing in low or null, you make killing the rats that can scramble or warp jam you a priority.  Wormhole-runners do this as well, but the larger proportion of scramming rats make it tougher.
  6. Safety in numbers.  You don't have to bear alone.  PvE works well when you have a gang around you, even if that gang is a small one.  Many PvE ganks are solo ganks done by a single pilot with between one and three accounts.  These solo gankers will be reluctant to take on equal numbers and won't even think about taking on superior numbers.

These six factors form the basis for a lot of low-sec, null-sec, and wormhole PvE.(1)  Particularly for wormhole ops or null-sec anomaly-running, all it takes is a couple of the pilots to have passive scout alts whose screen they can glance at from time to time.  You put the fleet in system X, then place your passive scouts at all the entry points.  If one of the passive scouts sees something, the PvE fleet warps to the staging POS.  The PvP fleet calls you names (or doesn't) and moves on.  Much of the time, the player with the scout alt doesn't even need to watch the screen.  Just turning on EVE's sound, doing a "Look at" command for the gate or wormhole, and listening for the activation sound is enough.  If the gate or wormhole is activated, the player turns their attention to the scout alt to see what's up.

I've been in PvE fleets in low-sec faction warfare, in null-sec anomalies, and in wormholes.  These fleets use most or all of these safety factors.

Know which of these safety factors incursion-runners could use in low-sec?  All of them.

Know which ones they're organized enough to use?  All of them.

Know which ones they're too lazy to use?

Yeah, I won't answer that.  It's funny, too, because the financial reward is there.  When I think about high-sec incursions sites run without significant competition and an average, non-shiny fleet, I think of two numbers: seven, and 10.5.  The first is the number of sites that can be run per hour.  The second is the pay-out per site, in millions of ISK.  That means an average high-sec incursion fleet with no shiny ships can make 73.5 million ISK per hour if there's little or no competition.  Those very same incursions are worth 15 million ISK per site in low-sec, with far less competition.  That's 105 million ISK per hour for an average incursion fleet with no shiny ships.

In short, you'll make enough money to replace your insured ship in low-sec incursions in one hour or less, if it gets blown up.  Two hours if it's a logi.  But again, your chances of actually losing your ship are pretty low.  That means that if you take these precautions, you can take a shiny ship into low-sec with a equally small likelihood of losing it... and make even more money.  People bear in low, null, and wormhole space in Tengus and Machariels and even more expensive ships every minute of every hour of every day, I assure you.  Shiny fleets can complete nine or ten sites an hour.  Ten times 15 is 150.

Setting up intel channels and passive scouts, and a small POS around a free moon in the Vanguard system you're working to park the off-grid booster in are trivial concerns next to that kind of sustainable ISK per hour.

You just have to do the safety dance to keep the fleet from getting jumped.  And in doing so, you might just become a better EVE player, too.  If high-sec incursions disappeared today, I have no doubts that these systems would be up and running in low-sec tomorrow.

(1) A seventh, slightly more advanced tactic also deserves a mention because it would be so easy for incursion-runners to implement.  When the fleet comes through an incursion site gate, have every ship in the fleet drop a single round of non-faction ammo in a can.  This will create a little cloud of cans that will decloak any ship coming through the gate to get a look at you.


  1. One thing, THANK YOU!! When I mentioned before in the caravan post that I felt more people needed to be moving into Low Sec for incursions this is exactly what I had in mind. On that note, i have a couple things to add to your post:
    1. Sansha has already taken care of the cyno jamming (and over the whole incursion region too!)so thats a big plus already.
    2. Travel in fleets since low-sec incursions have incursion rats on the gates frequently. Not only does this make travel dificult for solo pilots, it also discourages small gang and solo PvP'ers!
    3. Remember those bigger payouts? Now you can bring a fleet of 15 into a Vanguard, get the same payout as a high-sec site, run it faster and have more people on hand to discourage or fight off the would-be PvP'ers. Bring some E-War, Jammers, PvP fits or just place an alt in a Cov-Ops in all the adjacent systems! Get creative, I know you guys are more than capable of it and who knows, maybe you'll find you actually like it out there!

    Hopefully this will help nudge players to explore more facets of EvE and bring more life into Low-Sec. The more people we can bring out here the better it becomes and the more we can all enjoy this game.

  2. I think the better experiment to see if you can lure people to low sec would be to increase the rewards for running lowsec incursions. Perhaps a 25% increase on what they already are giving out. Have the lowsec incursions scale with how many people are running them. In this way you are increasing the reward in an attempt to balance this with the risk.

    I agree with most of the people that commented previously. Attempting to force people to go places will not result in them going, they will just take a lesser reward.

    You got a similar result in the sanctum nerf. Instead of people going full blown to the lower sec status areas of null sec space, they went to high sec and started grinding level 4 missions or high sec incursions. I believe that the change in distribution was commented on in the last player distribution post a couple of months ago.

    I think that getting people into low sec would be beneficial to them in the long run, but I think that CCP needs to use more carrot and less stick.

  3. It really is as simple as watching local and D scan.

    I would say if your going to do PvE in dangerous waters you may want to leave the officer mods at home:

  4. Is this how bears run lvl 5 missions in low sec now? Unless I am out of touch, ever since lvl 5 were moved to low sec, not many bother to run them, same will be with incursions. And i do not think it is risk aversion that prevents "bears" from going to low sec at all. PvE and PvP fittings do not mix so doing PvE without any good chance at surviving is what makes low sec so undersirable for "bears". Even if PvE is doable in a PvP fit, there is still too many disadvantages that just are not worth it. Lowsec favores the "agressor", so why bother, Null offer similar risks but at much greater survivability.

  5. Its always bothered me that to play eve well you need a second account. i know its the norm but it just seems sad to me :/

  6. I for one think you need to SHUT UP. You are ruining it for the good PVP aligned nullsec corps/alliances that like to sully themselves with some 3B isk corp and alliance carebear operations in low-sec.

    It takes less than a day for an Alliance to fill the war coffers full of ship replacement isk by doing incursion sites in low-sec. No competition. We're already trained for pvp and know the routine when flying a fleet... why do you have to go and create competition! Stop already!

  7. I haven't done incursions for a while now (quite simply, I make far more isk/hour/effort doing missions for my isk needs/wants) so this might be a little dated.

    Towards the end of my incursion running, a second fleet would sometimes show up in the site and "run it", with often times higher dps and get the reward for the site instead of my fleet. From what I understand this practice has become more common, spiraling into "shiny dps or no dps at all" mentality. I lost a faction huginn to a retard FC once that set me back two days worth of incursion running (this is a few hours of actual site running and about the same waiting for a fleet to invite me/filling an empty slot).

    I imagine that this scenario in a lowsec incursion would play out with one of the fleets either bugging out (losing the reward) or choosing to fight (which could go either way with the rats still active). None of those lines of advice address that scenario (which I do use, almost all, while "bearing" in lowsec).

    As far as isk/hour goes, a lowsec incursion is something I'd like to do (it might just be on par with my other isk making activity), but I suspect the scenario I posed would be the likeliest stopping point for other, more "bear"-inclined players.


  8. When CCP took their treasure fleet through low sec, you were unsurprised when Pandemic Legion dropped a massive fleet on them and murdered everyone. PL was able to do this for three reasons. One, they have a very large well equipped fleet. Two, they are highly organized and their FC's know their business. Three, they knew the location of the enemy forces.

    Roams have that name because you have to go out and find targets to shoot at. Incursions concentrate a great number of players in relatively few systems. Cyno-jammers stop a hot-drop but they do not stop the blob. It seems to me that fundamental question is one of organization and how effective one believes the bears can be against the blob. If the bears have to retreat to a POS or station, the blob wins.

  9. @Karbox: Yes. Until the blobs try it a few times, find that the bears POS up when they come anywhere near them, and go back to doing something fun.

    If your theory was correct, we'd see dozens of PvE kills in drone Russian space a day and tons of gangs going through there to get them. 'cause after all that area is just full of bears concentrated into a small area, right?

  10. @Jester: Blob jumps into system, bears POS up. Blob maybe kills the slow, dumb ones, leaves for other fun things to do. Rinse, repeat, right?

    It's not so much actually getting caught by the blob jumping into system (after all, all the precautions that you listed are designed to do just that, avoid confrontation), but that the threat is enough.

    I think one thing I haven't addressed nor brought up is the organizations involved. So what do we have?

    The solo pvper isn't likely to screw with even a VG fleet (10-15 as you suggested).

    An equal sized fleet with comparable logistics to deal with possible rat aggro? That would be a threat to one VG fleet in system and would cause the bears to POS/safe up, right?

    What if the bears numbered in a 100-man corp/organization? So you'd have at least 2 VG fleets roaming about in an incursion system? I think the bear answer to a possibly hostile fleet would be the same, POS up.

    What if all 100 members were in the incursion system running VG's? Courage in numbers, right? Maybe they'd think about taking on a 10-15 man gang. Unless that 100 member organization proves themselves to be filed in the category of "Do Not Fuck With", they'd lose a couple fights and organization dissolves as word spreads that they're easy prey and more roving gangs show up for kills.

    The other route, the bears prove themselves as pvpers that can hold their own? This might be interesting...


  11. Interesting. I'm fairly new to your site and I needed to read your post on risk-averse players before I posted.

    The suggestions you have laid out are possible and probably the most logical ways to reduce risk, and do low sec incursions, or other low/npc null activities. However,...with the fly by night nature of incursion fleets (dedicated incursion corps are different) it's unlikely that a random FC will put up his own isk for a staging pos, diplo enough to get on intel channels, and have passive scouts. Safety in numbers and the prioritization of scramming rats is a no-brainer.

    It's the logistics of the POS, diplo, and passive scouts in an incursion constellation and system, which does not seem plausible for the risk/reward.

    Unfortunately, I don't have a better suggestion.

    However, those principles are easily applied to those who want to live in low/npc null for brief periods.

  12. While I have never done an incursion (waiting in a channel and getting berated because I don't have "That Specific Fit" feels too much like LFG channel in WoW, been there done that ty), I have a a little experience in WH PvE. A well-run WH crew will always scan down all WHs and position cloaky "eyes" on them - T1 frigs and alts are fine. Someone will fly combat drones to check for new WH spawning or ships appearing. Together with manic spamming of d-scan this makes site running reasonably safe. Personally one of the main attractions of WH space is the requirement for team work to keep it safe and enjoyable.

  13. Mhmm... good idea but how is a pick-up-group of "bears" supposed to arrange POS towers in a system that's only going to be valuable to them for 5 - 9 days when as Dannar pointed out the major alliances are already farming the lowsec's?

    ...Jester if ever you do organise a lowsec incursion fleet I'll X up for it with a cheep tempest or 'cain but I have to wonder if you've really thought this out.

  14. My inclinations are ursine and I regularly do my stuff in w-space and nullsec. Sometimes, however, I want to do hisec stuff and sometimes, amongst that, I want to break out the basi or vargur and go run with some shiny incursion fleets.

    Rather than have your model of risk:reward, or whetever, imposed upon me I'd prefer to be able to choose to play w-space or nullsec when and how I want and then to choose to go hisec at other times. Being forced into lowsec / nullsec to fit other people's agendas just isn't attractive to me.

    There are already incursions in lowsec and nullsec, and they're already significantly bonused compared to hisec. By all means go run them, it's your choice, but I'm no subscriber to nerfing hisec incursions because they don't fit with your model of what's best for us all.

    It seems, in the end, that most nerf-incursion postings and threads boil down to people wanting force others to adopt alternative modes of play. Obviously lots and lots of people enjoy their hisec incursions, so why should they be forced to go elsewhere or do something else just because you wish it so?

    btw. In your bear 'safety' posting to did not mention the use of deep-space probes in w-space PvE. Combined with the DS, and sensible management of the system's WHs those little amber guys are huge safety multipliers. They show you new WHs as soon as they spawn, and they show you any uninvited ships should they appear. Alongside the DS to show you any probes, and your knowledge of the state of all your WHs, it takes very skilled attackers to break that safety net ... and some can / do (especially when I am chatting and not paying full attention to all those safety resources I have deployed).

  15. Something I haven't seen mentioned much in your posts regarding low sec is the fact that sometimes you just don't want to go to the hassle of taking the necessary steps to play in low.

    Personally I don't mind low sec, when I feel like it. By no means am I a pirate nor do I live in low, but I'm not afraid to travel through solo.

    What I won't do though is do any type of PVE action in low sec, the hassle isn't worth the meager reward. Monitor intel channels, put an alt out to scout, constantly scan local, sit idle while moving from SS to SS to avoid contact, plan routes around known ambush gates... all the things you mention.

    Most days I want to log on and just relax playing the game. How can I be relaxed when I'm having to perform five or six tasks that may or may not allow me to work through an exploration site, or do some kind of mission?

    High sec incursions are for days I want a little challenge. I almost exclusively fly logi in incursions and I enjoy the challenge of keeping people alive when things might go wrong or someone doesn't have the best fit. There's some challenge but I don't have to worry about getting ambushed or shutting down operations while a hunter/killer team is in the area. I just play the game, have some fun, make some ISK, and relax.

    When I don't want the challenge I run high sec missions. Even more relaxing than incursions although the reward difference is such that I've gotten to the point missions just don't feel like they are worth the time.

    Finally, when I feel like a challenge I'll spend some time in low sec. Usually in something very cheap and knowing I'm probably going to lose. Sometimes that's fun but most of the time it's not because there's almost never a fair fight. What I've seen of low sec is mainly the low sec dwellers only engaging when they have a definite advantage, there is rarely a such thing as a fair fight.

    So why should I head off into low to tempt fate as the lowbies prepare overwhelming force to take me out? I have much more PVP fun on WoT's or BF3 where the fights are much closer to fair, there's no ISK loss, and the PVP is nonstop for as long as I'm online.

    Eve pvp is typically only fun for the people that have the better skills, more friends, or more advanced ships. There's no real incentive to PVP other than bragging rights and bragging just doesn't have much appeal for people that just want to relax in a gaming environment.

    Eve desperately needs more high sec PVE if it wants to build a bigger player base. Look at the biggest MMO's on the market and you'll find more PVE servers and plenty of PVE only areas in the PVP servers. Gamers enjoy some PVP but their bread and butter is PVP. Eve has ignored this for years and the inability to maintain a player base shows the neglect.

    While I respect your efforts to enliven low sec the problem is not simply risk aversion, but a fundamental difference in how the majority of the MMO gaming world enjoys playing a game.

  16. More really good comments.

    To those asking how the staging POSs are supposed to go up, the last time I checked, BTL had a reimbursement fund of several billion, and the new shield HQ channel had even more. I suspect that'd buy a quite a number of small towers and some fuel with little difficulty.

    Anchoring them would be similarly easy with a couple of cloaky haulers. If someone feels the need to reinforce one, fine: anchor another one somewhere else.

    That said, just for fun, I'd probably go full bore and put up a full-on large dickstar in a couple of VG systems. I suspect enough incursion runners could call down a real PvP fleet if the tower was reinforced to make a fun alternate activity for some people. When the incursion moves, take the towers down and move them.

  17. @Jester I am not sure your analogy holds closely enough. Are the null-sec bears as highly concentrated in single areas as incursion runners? Dispersed prey is harder to track down and lessens the productivity of a roam. Is it really as easy to penetrate deep into a null-sec Alliance as it is get from null-sec to low sec? Sov holding alliances have great advantages in mobility and projecting force.
    It would be interesting to see how quickly the blob could enter system versus the bears ability to kill warp scramblers and POS up.

  18. @Karbox: it'd depend on the quality of the intel. By their nature as conduits from high to null, a lot of low-sec constellations tend to be pipes and therefore easy to monitor from an intel stand-point.

    Example: as I type this, the low-sec incursion is in the Jatari constellation. There's only four ways in, and a couple of systems in that constellation are pretty easy to isolate from an intel perspective.

  19. It's been mentioned, but deserves repeating, that you can do PVE in a PVP fit ship (you just need good logistics). The problem with low sec PVE is that a PVE fit ship is an easy target for a PVP fit one. If CCP really wanted to make PVE in low sec practical they'd eliminate the need to fit a ship differently for it. It's the difference in the two fitting philosophies that keeps PVE bears out of PVP low sec...

  20. "Obviously lots and lots of people enjoy their hisec incursions, so why should they be forced to go elsewhere or do something else just because you wish it so?"

    <3 the "entitlement mentality"... + hyprocisy ftw. Who the fuck are you, O Anonybear, to say you SHOULD get "something for nothing", as you say "just because you wish it is so"? It's this kind of "holier than thou" lecturing bullshit attitude, whilst themselves lecturing from a holy pulpit, that makes you just wanna deliver some in-game face-punches.

    Then again, why should someone work long hard hours at a dangerous job when they can earn twice as much working in an office from 9-5? Especially when the guy working long hard hours at a dangerous job gets derided and sneered at by the starched collar office drone? See also: the military, law enforcement, fire, EMS, and allied non-professionals who make that office drone's RL-version of hisec a reality for him...

    To me it's not about ISK, or game mechanics, or getting carebear tears... it's the principle of the thing. Risk and reward, simple as that.

    Then again, the whole concept is fucked in real life, too (see also: celebrities and sports stars), so why shouldn't it be here? After all, I'm the guy that proved EVE == Real Life.

  21. @Jester: Its more than just buying or anchoring them. BTL isn't an alliance or corporation, not any more. There is a good reason for this too. A corp with a load of "bears" flying around with shiny ships? Tell me that's not a pirate/merc corps wet dream.

    Yeah BTL could probably afford to set up a small or medium tower in the lowsec systems, but then what. You can set POS towers to allow corp and alliance members into the bubble but for anyone else you need a password. Remind me how many nulsec alliances lost supers and titans because their POS password was compromised? Those are sov alliances, do you really expect a bunch of "bears" with an open door policy to be any better at keeping something like a POS password secret for more than a few hours? As soon as you need to safe up your VG fleet you have 9 - 10 people who are probably outside your alliance who need in. No POS password is going to remain secret for long. Once a "pie-rat" gang or sov alliance gets their hands on that your "dickstar" is about as much use as a paper umbrella in a hailstorm.

    Your advice on everything else is solid as a rock but without major changes to the structuring of channels like BTL and TDF a refuge POS just isn't practical for incursions.

  22. I think CCP and the in-game messages are immensely helpfull in toning down the myths and preconceptions of low-sec that are leading to the risk aversion of hi-sec inhabitants. For instance, this message pops up when venturing from hi to low;

    "The destination system is 0,4 security status. This is extremely dangerous and Concord police can not guarantee your safety there. Do you want to proceed?"

    Low and null inhabitants probably turned that warning off an eternity ago, but lots of hi-sec inhabitants might never turn it of. They are reminded that anything 0,4 and lower is _EXTREMELY DANGEROUS_, thus not worth the risk chasing the potential extra payout in low.

    I think low-sec needs more incentives, but most of all, a conception of low as not beeing a synonym for guarateed destruction is what will help get more players traversing the gates to low.

  23. Some good comments regarding lowsec. When I was carebearing in highsec, I'd usually do it solo, with an occassional corp activity mixed in. As a solo pilot, not all the safety measures are available to you, and this leaves you quite vulnerable in lowsec. Due to this, as another commenter mentioned, running missions or complexes in lowsec just wasn't that relaxing. In the end, it's highsec or nullsec for me; I don't care much for lowsec.

  24. To make long thoughts short words:
    If you build it, they will come.

    I am quite sure that if someone starts to offering well organized low sec incursion runs people will run them. I do not think that this is actually a question of risk, but a question of laziness. You explained very well that incursion runners are cable of doing this with very low risk. What you failed to offer is to fc it.

    People will often prefer to not run incursions than to fc themselves. People will not blindly trust any fc and even more important they will not easily follow without a lot of trust into low sec. Even when they know that it can be save, they know as well that scam and treachery can be everywhere in eve. So forget shinny ships at all for BTL-like incursion runners at least at the beginning.

    And now its t1 fleets in low sec vs shinny fleets in high sec. At least to me those 30% more income to not look very attractive as long as I am not sure to have always fleets up in my incursion system. Time is money.

    Still, I am sure if someone builds a channel or even a corp around low sec incursions and takes care of organisation and fcs people will start doing low sec incursions. Do it, and I will risk a few isk in low sec, but without fcs calling for members or CEOs looking for pilots for their low sec incursion corps you will not see it happening.

  25. "The problem with low sec PVE is that a PVE fit ship is an easy target for a PVP fit one. If CCP really wanted to make PVE in low sec practical they'd eliminate the need to fit a ship differently for it. It's the difference in the two fitting philosophies that keeps PVE bears out of PVP low sec"

    This. Along with necessary changes to make rats fight more like real players, would change things over time.

    The problem is that PvE in a PvP ship is slower, and the slowdown doesn't make up for the extra rewards you may get.

    Increasing the rewards helps in the short term, but doesn't really address the issue; it'll get more people into lowsec occasionally, but they aren't likely to stick around.


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