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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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Scimoneiroliskian

In my customary role of Logistics, I've spent the last several days -- both before and after the Escalation patch -- running incursions.  It was my first time running incursions in at least six months.  I was primarily curious if there had been any marked changes right before the patch.  I was then curious what impact the patch itself would have.  Here are my impressions.

First, incursions themselves and the culture of incursion-runners seems essentially unchanged from when I wrote about them six months ago.  It continues to be a very tight-knit community, and it appears to remain a community that is pretty stable from a personnel stand-point.  Many of the same faces I saw six months ago are still heavily involved, and most of them are in the same sorts of roles.  So there's a nice stability there that speaks well of incursions to remain a social option for PvE players into the future.  Definite net positive.

There has been a bit more Balkanization of the incursion channels since I last wrote about them.  There are far more "private" channels, and the "public" channels (BTL Pub, The Ditanian Fleet) are held in somewhat lower esteem among the professional incursion runners.  The professionals also seem a bit more insular than they were last year.  That said, it's still relatively easy to achieve invitations to these private channels if you know what you're doing.

Ship fitting has not changed all that much.  Shield ships now fairly routinely run with dead-space Adaptive Invulnerability Fields, but that was the only major change I encountered.  There is scorn directed at CCP for the lack of changes to the faction Invuls.  I encountered several conversations about this, and everyone agrees that keeping the faction Invuls tag-limited is a dumb idea, and that C-Type dead-space Invuls will soon be cheaper than their less-effective faction counter-parts.  I don't see any call to argue with that reasoning.  That said, dead-space and faction Invuls remain a "shiny" option and are not seen as required.  There was apparently a dip in incursion participation over the winter when any non-shiny ship was shunned due to a glut of shiny ships.  However, this phase seems to have passed and I encountered many standard T1 battleships in the sites over the last several days.

Armor fleets continue to surpass shield fleets at Vanguard sites, most likely because of the common use of Remote Sensor Boosters and Remote Tracking Links, options generally unavailable for shield fleets.  Shield fleets continue to far surpass armor fleets at Assault and HQ sites, due to superior fleet leadership and skill.  It's time for another injection of skill from BTL into TDF's leadership.  Alternately, the TDF leadership needs to man up and take the BTL FC classes, anonymously if they have to.  The Valhalla Project, a new channel devoted to running HQ sites, has a clearly outstanding process in place for training HQ FCs, something TDF needs to take advantage of.

Post-Escalation, Vanguard profits are much decreased.  Prior to the patch, I would estimate that a really top-skilled shiny VG fleet could bring in 125 million ISK per hour per member on a consistent basis.  Based on the reduction of pay-outs and the alteration of the spawns, particularly in the OTA and NCO sites, I would estimate this to be reduced to about 75 million ISK per hour.  This is now almost directly in line with skilled HQ fleets.  Assault sites continue to lag slightly.

Unskilled VG and HQ fleets will be reduced to about 70% of that number, I suspect.

Some people will continue to unfairly blame incursions for all of EVE's economic troubles despite this.  It will continue to be as untrue as it was prior to the Escalation patch.

Logistics ships are now much more common than they used to be.  Lokis used in both shield and armor fleets are much less common than they used to be.  Machariels and Nightmares are most prized, Nightmares in shield fleets most of all.  I suspect the Nightmare will become the "go to" ship for shield incursion fleets, preferred above all others.  Legions, Paladins, and Armageddon Navy Issues will likely be the preferred armor ships.  The sniper role is also going to be much more important, I expect.  Many of the HQ rats spawn at 120 to 140 kilometers and that's where they stay.  It's often no longer possible to nail them before they motor out of range.

The spawn changes that will so disrupt OTA blitzing also seem to have affected the Nation Rebirth Facility HQ site as well, perhaps as a side effect.  It is no longer possible to semi-blitz NRFs.  That makes TCRCs the fastest HQ site, but also the most dangerous, particularly when pre-spawned.  The first three minutes of a pre-spawned TCRC continues to be the hardest, deadliest time in EVE PvE (and yes, that counts WH sites of all classes).

Here's an interesting one: post-patch, the influence bar indicating Sansha control over a constellation moves much more quickly toward the "red" than it used to.  Not running sites for even a few minutes will cause Sansha control over the constellation to start to rise, and if there isn't an active HQ fleet working in a constellation, it will rise rather quickly.  This makes running sites more difficult by proxy since the Sansha influence reduces both player DPS and resists.  I approve of this change, though I'm sure I'm in the minority of incursion runners that do!

Another change that I'm less sure about is how "twitchy" incursion rats seem to be post-patch.  They seem to lock player ships more quickly, apply DPS more quickly, and change targets much more quickly.  This makes running Logistics in an incursion site far more difficult than it used to be.  This is particularly true if the fleet leadership isn't top notch about managing incursion rat aggression.  It's much easier for an HQ site to spiral out of the FC's control, for instance, and is going to make HQ FC training that much more important.  I expect we're going to see more lost ships out of this change, which isn't bad, per se.  But it's going to tend to be the less tanky Logistics ships which are lost (or who simply refuse to X up for fleets), which is going to make things slightly more difficult for everyone.

And I think that's it for now.  I don't intend to get back into incursions full time -- I'm having far too much fun in Rote -- but it was nice to spend a few days doing them to see how the landscape has changed since last year.  My incursion guides continue to be more or less up to date, though I might tweak them here and there to account for the site changes.

Have fun out there!

17 comments:

  1. Jester, I just want to say thanks for all the quality posts you write! I look forward to reading them everyday. Well done Sir!

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  2. I just got into incursions in the last couple weeks, as a basilisk. I have to say, I don't understand the rep that TCRCs get about being so hard on the logis. Now, this is blasphemy, but is it because I was a raiding healer in WoW? The only person who ever died in a TCRC on my watch didn't broadcast until he was at 25% shields. Now, maybe it's a matter of fleet comp, and the TVP FCs getting the right kind of fleet together, in which case I only am more enthused to endorse them as great HQ FCs.

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  3. Jester Tdf has its hq and mom fcs. There is no need for training. Those that wish to run has are trained. Those that don't wish to opt into the training don't get trained and thus stick with vans. Tdf has a very limited number of trusted fcs.

    To be honest we might have 8 fcs online at a time and maybe 1-2 hq fcs. The majority of armor likes running low risk vans. Due to the pre-patch isk/hour ratio. It's the thought process hopefully that will change in the future.

    It's up to the pilots to bring proper hq fits. Example tdf lost two logintoday because said logi pilots did not fit as asked and linked bi bullshit fits. It's not the f s fault when the community chooses to run vans. We can only ask.

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    1. Hi Carm,

      Thanks for your comment! But you may be assigning me a political agenda that I assure you does not exist. I have no reason to favor TVP/BTL over TDF or vice versa. I run with both. I've been on mom fleets with you and Cowboy (usually in a Neddon or Oneiros). I've been on mom fleets with Serge and Serenity (usually in a Nightmare or Basi). I've also been on VG fleets with both armor and shield FCs. I enjoy both on those occasions that I do incursions.

      But overall, I don't run incursions often enough to *care* who is "better". I do therefore consider myself neutral enough to *report* who is "better".

      I was on TCRC fleets with TVP yesterday. I was on TCRC fleets with you today. I can therefore say with assurance that the TVP FCs have a machine-like efficiency at running the sites that TDF FCs just can't match right now. That happens regardless of the ships brought into the site, which is why I called it a leadership issue. Is it criticism? Absolutely. But I dare say it's constructive criticism.

      Again, I have no political agenda here. I consider myself a neutral bystander. Please therefore take my comments in that vein, and hopefully my readers will take it in that light.

      If you'd like to chat in-game, I'm available any time.

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    2. As a fairly new player (yes, we do exist), a while back I decided that I was tired of being ISK poor and decided that I was going to start running some incursions to make money. I sold almost every asset that I had, bought a Caldari Navy Raven, and went to the nearest incursion constellation. I was a complete noob, even though I had read a few guides from Jester and others.

      After being turned away from countless VG fleets, I was scooped up by a TVP FC and very patiently shown the ropes. The first time I got primaried on a spawn, I damn near shit myself, but the TVP Logies were on the ball and had everything under control.

      I've been running with them for about six weeks now, and have amassed somewhere in the neighborhood of three billion ISK, with no ship losses, or even close calls. The TVP FCs and Logies are a great group of folks, and I highly advise anyone starting out to join up with them.

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  4. I tried out my hand as a Basilisk pilot recently. Mind you, after three days experience in a number of vanguards (pre-patch), and a number of assaults (post-patch); I enjoyed it.

    I think it's a good way to learn logistics expertise. Though some people still need to learn how to broadcast correctly. Both assault fleets were mixed between shiny and T1 BS. Vanguards were so shiny. The closest we had to losing a ship was a Machariel at 1/4th shields because of a slow broadcast and I personally screwed up my rep cycle.

    Lots of fun though.

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  5. Understood jester. I will admit tdf is much more laid back. I didn't mean to accuse you of having a political agenda. I guess what I'm trying to say is tdf pilots (not the fcs) aren't so inclined to run hqs. It becomes frustrating when pilot don't comprehend general incursion hq fitting rules and when we run hqs most of the senior fcs are on comms (aside from fleet comms) joking around with eachother.

    Pure isk/hour isn't tdf's goal (my personal point of view). I guess that is why so many sub channels have spawned. In reality we didn't want to emulate channels like that be aide tdf had some serious problems in the past with "eliteism". If that's even a word. We decided awhile back to be helpful and to give fitting assistance and let those specialty super uber 5 billion isk only channels do their own thing because turning tdf into an isk oriented machine just ends up stressing the leadership out.

    It's become very hard to compete with shield fleets in assaults and hqs because tdf is safety and anti-loss oriented. Long story short what you saw from mentoday was a refresher in once. I havnt been able to run them in 4 months because I've been jumping from merc Corp to merc Corp. The "efficiency"'of the fleet was 100% my doing in a negative way. All the other fcs in that fleet actually told reminded me how to speed things up later on in the site.

    Anyways I took your advice. I've spent sometime nailing down some fits and I've mailed them away to try to shift the focus of td to hqs. I'll be gone from ins for another 3'months so I hope my 4 days of running once changes the channel for the better.

    Your loyal reader carmelos53

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    1. Hi carm,

      Yeah, you've got a chicken-egg thing going on with HQs. You need experienced people to run them well, but building up experienced people to run them will be difficult without that.

      The thing you'll soon have going for you, though, are dozens of former VG-runners that will likely want to join HQ fleets since they'll be seen as more profitable (since they pay just as much ISK, but also pay more LP). Be ready to take advantage of that!

      Elitism is definitely a word, and all of the incursion channels -- shield and armor -- suffer from it. I saw it last year, and I saw it in the last week. There's nothing you can do about it, so I wouldn't worry about it.

      Thanks again for your comment and your readership. ;-)

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  6. Hello there Jester

    Thank you very much for the kind words regarding TVP and glad you enjoyed your stay =)

    One big thing that's missing in your comparison from my point of view is the social part of incursions.

    One year ago the vibe on HQ com's was kinda more stressed due to the sites not being optimized and the FC's being stressed due to fleet members "not knowing what they are doing".

    In my opinion this has changed drastically now that the FC's know what they are doing and the fleet members knowing what to expect and how to deal with certain situations.

    When you join the TVP HQ coms now on a US/EU evening you will find a Pub/Bar like relaxed environment with people telling stories from RL, their encounters in Low/0.0 and discussing/joking over recent EVE events and drama's while still making a good amount of ISK per hour. And the FC's now have the confidence in running sites on "relaxed coms". That was def. very rare one year ago.

    From my personal opinion lots of AS/HQ incursion runners nowadays join fleets for the social part and not for the ISK/h. HQ Incursions are definitively the most enjoyable and social PVE experience in EVE and work as intended from our perspective.

    HOWEVER ( and slightly off topic ) .. the WAY slower influence meter is the actual nerf to incursions.

    As you correctly stated .. the time of "non-professional" VGs , where a guy with a tagging list and mic takes some guys into VGs, is basically over. incursions became WAY more elitist with that change. There is just no entry level inc/pve FC site anymore.

    We are running one HQ's nonstop since 10 hours in Sid now .. and we got sansha influence down to 73% from a newly spawned incursion. Meaning 73% red, 27% player control. So all sansha effects are still 100% in place.

    While this makes sense from a story line and "realism" perspective there is just no way a "newb vg FC" can form fleets and savely run them now. We had 20+ reports of totally welping VG fleets since the new inc "rebalance".

    People ( and that includes "newb"-FCs just wanting to run VGs ) are forced to run with trained AS/HQ FCs ( an .. elite .. as you might call it ) the first days until the influence goes down.

    Could bramble over that way longer, but i'm gona cut it here, since its way off topic :D

    I would appreciate if you could have the social part of incursions included in further reviews of incursions. A lot of us would also like to chat with you ( Including me :D ) on coms when you run Inc's with us. Don't be shy .. enjoy the social part :D

    With best regards and a long time reader myself
    Teroh Vizjereij
    CEO of TVP

    PS : What do you think of giving the sleeper AI to incursion rats?

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    1. First, I'm definitely not shy about chatting on comms. It's just that nobody recognizes my voice and I get on fleet with three different alts. So nobody's recognized me or connected my alts with me yet. I got into fleet with Ripard in a Loki some months back and nobody paid me particular attention then, either. ;-)

      You make a good point regarding the social aspect of incursions. In this post, I mention it's "unchanged", meaning that it's unchanged from "rather chatty, and usually about things that aren't incursion-related." When I ran incursions regularly, I picked up more intel about 0.0 politics than I do now, for instance, hee.

      I agree that the increased Sansha influence will require better players and better FCs. And you know what? This is no bad thing. Incursions should be end-game or near end-game PvE, no different from (and in some ways harder than) wormholes. You wouldn't enter a C5 site with a sub-optimal fleet or a newb FC. Nor should you enter an incursion VG site with a sub-optimal fleet.

      I haven't been in a wormhole in several years, so I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer re: Sleeper AI. Incursion rats are certainly tough opponents as it is.

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    2. "When I ran incursions regularly, I picked up more intel about 0.0 politics than I do now, for instance, hee."

      I suspect that this phrase sums up quite well why CCP made the changes which they did.

      A particular instance occurs to me: When the CFC tackled several Raiden. titans a few months ago, someone on the goon jabber chat mentioned it on fleet comms during an HQ site. We chatted about it, and after the site four players left quoting the titans as the reason. Two to kill the titans, and two to defend them. I am convinced that the same pilots happily ran HQ sites together the next day.

      A rough quote - "It was the kind of sensible arrangement that many isolated agents, working a long way away from their superiours, reach with their opposite number when they realise that they have more in common with their immediate opponents than their remote allies."

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  7. "First, I'm definitely not shy about chatting on comms. It's just that nobody recognizes my voice and I get on fleet with three different alts."

    That implies you havn't even tried :,(

    "You wouldn't enter a C5 site with a sub-optimal fleet or a newb FC. Nor should you enter an incursion VG site with a sub-optimal fleet."

    If you compare VG's to WH's .. they are about class 2-3 WH's. And with the correct fits you can enter a c2-c3 and run some sleeper sites without much FC experience.

    With the new incursion influence meter, you can't possibly do that. What are the "i just want to run a few sites with friends or casual randoms from inc local" sites on incursions now? I may sound like a bitter vet here, but those "entry level" sites are no longer available.

    And you should def. be able to engage into incursions with some friends without being required to join AS/HQ fleets.

    For the re: Sleeper AI .. and educated "guess" would do :)

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    1. I've never done an incursion, but from what I hear, they are much much harder than a cl 2-3 WH. I'd say the C5 comparison is pretty much on par (I'm talking without capital escalation here). You can solo a c2 site easily in a well tanked drake. And you don't need FC experience for the site either. Just read a guide, make sure your fleet knows how to follow tags, voila.

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  8. Cool, about time CCP ended those overpaid isk injections. Now I dont have to do out to kspace and do the mom sites again.

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  9. What's with the title of this blog post, Jester? Incursions got nerfed hard and the best you can do is write a post with a title that will get less than zero attention because nobody knows what it means, can spell it, or will ever recall it in the future? Way to bury the lede, dude.

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    1. http://jestertrek.blogspot.com/search/label/Incursions

      I don't think you'll have much trouble finding my incursion-related posts. ;-)

      I was just having some fun with Logistics ship names. It came up in both of the incursion channels the other day. As a lover of word games, it tickled me.

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