In a word, it's awful. Completely awful.
Just to recap (skip the next two paras if you know this stuff or remember it from two weeks ago): when an incursion launches in a new system (state: Established), an influence bar is created which measures the impact being had on capsuleer damage and resists. As I said in the post two weeks ago, these two numbers are very important. Higher Sansha influence greatly increases the chances of ships dying even while under lots and lots of reps. Higher Sansha influence also greatly reduces player DPS. The result of this is two-fold: there tend to be more Sansha ships on the field for longer (further increasing the stress on the Logistics pilots) and sites take longer (reducing player income).
In the past, players could very rapidly reduce the Sansha influence bar to zero and didn't have any difficulty keeping it there. This would essentially negate these two penalties. Any (incorrect) stories you've heard about "risk-free ISK" from incursions stems from that.
It's very clear now that CCP nerfed Sansha influence, making it rise much more quickly. This has created a vicious circle:
- Sansha influence in an incursed constellation rises; thus,
- higher Sansha influence makes it harder to run Vanguards; thus,
- fewer players run Vanguards; thus,
- the Sansha influence remains very high; thus,
- any more difficult sites are much more dangerous or are just flat-out impossible; thus,
- Sansha influence in an incursed constellation rises.
Those players that are trying to stick with it are left with the consequences: fewer players running Vanguard sites means that the Sansha influence does not drop. As I said a couple of weeks ago, just to keep the influence from rising... just to keep it stable, you need at least roughly four or five Vanguard fleets and one Assault fleet running. An additional Assault fleet plus one HQ fleet will then let you drop the Sansha influence about 5-6% per hour. That means it takes between 16 and 20 hours of continuous incursion-running by about 150 people to bring the influence to 0%.
The current communities can't do it.
As I said, I spent much of Wednesday and Thursday in incursion fleets all day both days. For most of that time, the influence hovered in the 65-85% range. In that range, the most difficult HQ site takes an hour to run. An entire hour. And in that time, the 40 people involved make about 30 million ISK. Any LP rewards and a portion of that ISK are consumed by the simply massive amount of ammunition that's expended to complete the site. I'm sure there are plenty of you out there gloating about this as you read it. But you simply have to admit that there's no way CCP intended the sites to be this difficult or to take this amount of time.
And then the clock resets the next day and you have to start over again.
The fleets struggle all day to bring the influence down, and most days, they fail. I saw long stretches that the influence never dropped below 80%. And I personally witnessed at least a dozen ships destroyed over those two days. God help you if your Logistics pilots start to panic, because if they do, that panic is contagious. In one particularly awful site, the panic spread across much of the Logistics wing resulting in four Logi ships, a Nightmare, and a Vindicator being destroyed.
Anyone want to continue to say that incursions are risk-free ISK? If so, I invite you to bring a Vindicator into one of the sites. See for yourself. No, I don't invite you. I dare you.
But as I said a couple of weeks ago, if you do, you're going to have to link up with the incursion communities to do it. The idea of independently running incursions is dead dead dead, at least for now. As I write this, there are two high-sec incursions. The shield and armor fleets have united to take on the one in Minmatar space (more on that in a second). It's influence has been yo-yo'ing all day. The other is in Amarr space and the influence hasn't moved from 100%... nor will it.
For now, uniting the communities is an experiment that's being run. The shield and armor communities no longer have the numbers or the ability to drive down Sansha influence separately in two high-sec incursions. As a result, they're being forced into an uneasy partnership and are attacking one high-sec incursion at a time. On Thursday and Friday, the shield community struggled continuously for 30 hours to bring Sansha influence in the "first" Amarr incursion to 100% and held it there for a few minutes, long enough to spawn the mom. Then they nearly immediately formed a fleet to kill the mom while the influence was high enough to make that a doable proposition.
And then the entire shield community moved to Minmatar space where the armor community was struggling to get the Sansha influence there out of the high 80s.
For the moment, this seems to be how things are going to go. It's not going to matter for a while how many high-sec incursions there are at any given time. Whether it's one or three, for the time being, all of the incursion runners are going to stick with one and ignore the others. They don't have much other choice. The caravan of the heavens is still out there, but now there's only one.
You might ask how much I made over my two days of incursion running, and it's a totally fair question. The answer is 438 million ISK, minus the cost of my ammunition, which ran about 25 million, plus a few lost T2 drones and some repairs and paste for my Logi ship. So just over 400 million in two days... over 14 hours of incursion running. Put another way, I made about 28 million ISK/hour that I put into it. And people wonder why players are giving this income method up.
(1) I finally got around to buying myself a Black Ops battleship this week. Redeemer, if you're curious.