I've managed to get three of my four EVE accounts more or less synchronized in terms of their unsub dates; they all have 35-40 days to go. Before that happened, I wanted to try those few things in EVE that I haven't done yet. One of those things is Incursions. Amarr space nearly always seems to have an active incursion, so I packed an Orca with few ships I thought might come in handy (Scimitar, Guardian, Spider Tengu) plus lots of spare fittings, put Ripard in a Vulture and my large ship main into a Nightmare, and pointed my small fleet toward Amarr space.
My first weekend (July 4 weekend) came up dry in terms of active incursions in that area, during the time I could actually play.
I had much better luck this past weekend: one incursion in Amarr space, plus a second one in Ammatar space that wasn't too far away. There seemed to be a lot more shield fleets than armor fleets active, so I unpacked my 4LST Scimitar and advertised myself in the local Incursion chat channel. Thirty seconds later, I was in a fleet, being directed to the Ammatar incursion sites, where a fleet of ten ships plus the FC was running Vanguard sites, the third-lowest type of site. More proof (if any were needed) that a Logi pilot will never be turned away. ;-) The DPS ships I saw advertised often had to pimp themselves four or five times or more before they stopped (presumably being picked up at that point).
Unsurprisingly, I found a well-oiled machine completely familiar with the mechanics of these sites. Incursions have been out for a while now and I figured they'd have EVE Survival posts for each type of site (and they do). But it turns out there's a site devoted to Incursions and Incursions only with guides for each type of site, fittings, theory-crafting, and the like. I added it to my bookmark list without delay. Since Incursion rats drop no bounties, the guides were very focused on how to blitz the sites, completing them while taking as little time as possible. As an example, the Override Transfer Array has three waves, but the Incursion Guide recommended just concentrating on the triggers. This left an absolute horde of ships toward the end of the third wave (making my life as a Logi pilot a little bit interesting...), but unlike a mission, once you kill the third trigger, everything left in the incursion site warps away... pretty interesting to see!
I had no experience with Vanguard sites, but I am an extremely experienced Logi pilot. Happily, working as one in Incursions came down to basic blocking-and-tackling Logistics pilot skills: monitoring broadcasts and watch lists, managing the active reppers and keeping a repper or two in reserve, managing cap, and using the Scimitar's small sig and high speed to avoid damage. That wasn't anything different from what I've done in dozens and dozens of PvP fleet fights, with the bonus that I didn't have to worry about kill-mail whoring. The Vanguard fleet I was in had three Logis (which I found out was typical); the other two were Basis (which I also found was typical; Scimitars are rare in Incursion fleets). I didn't have any trouble at all keeping the other ships alive and my 4LST fitting did just fine in these sites, as I suspected that it would. The only change I made was to change the drone load-out. I removed the Hob IIs entirely and carried five Light Shield and four Light Armor rep drones, all Tech 2.
The fleet rolled through Vanguard sites in short order, making 10.5 million ISK per site. Checking the logs, I found that it was taking our fleet almost exactly ten minutes to complete a Vanguard, making 63 million ISK/hour quite achievable. In practice, we took a break after every fourth site or so, so the actual money was closer to 40 million/hour. I was told the LP I was making would add about another 50% to that. Nice money, but I came to the conclusion that Incursion running is a lot like wormhole running: repetitive as hell. Still, I have to say that Incursions were shaping up to be my favorite active means of making ISK. It was quite social, friendly, and took a fair bit of skill on my part to deal with the target-switching Incursion rats. I wrapped up that Saturday after about seven hours in-game, with a total of about 280 million ISK profit. I mentioned that it was my first time ever running Incursions, and the rest of the guys complimented me on my first day performance.
I mentioned I was looking to join a fleet for tougher sites the next day, and was pointed to the "BTL PUB" in-game channel, which I was told was much superior for joining shield fleets than the random Incursion in-game chat channel. I logged into the channel and read up on the FAQ while I moved my small fleet back to the Amarr incursion. I had been told that it had been decided that day that the Ammatar incursion was going to be for armor tankers, and that the shield tankers should move to the Amarr incursion. So, it sounds like there's quite a bit of back-channel negotiations regarding these sites, something else that I didn't find too surprising. Count on EVE players to turn Incursion-running into a business.
The next day, Sunday, I got in early looking to join the more difficult sites. I was soon tapped for the Amarr Incursion fleet running Headquarters sites, the hardest type. These fleets were 40 or so ships, plus a wing CO. The fleet already had a booster, so I kept Ripard parked and stuck with my Scimitar. From watching the ship-fittings on BTL PUB, I was quickly able to determine that my standard Nightmare fitting wouldn't do at all. I'd need something with a thicker buffer. Nor would my Spider Tengu suffice; every Tengu in use was of the buffered six-gun variety. I had one of those, but not nearby. But Logi pilots were in demand, and I was enjoying it, so I stuck with it. Again, the HQ fleet was about 25% Logi, which meant that one squad was all logi. This time, for most of the day, I had one or two other Scimitars in fleet with me, though again, most of the Logi were Basilisks.
These sites were much tougher on the DPS ships, with a mix of close-range DPS and sniper DPS in the fleet. The incoming DPS was also much, much more difficult for the targeted ships to tank. We Logi pilots were kept very much on our toes, most often by pilots that didn't broadcast for shield soon enough. There were several cases where I and the other Logi pilots would start locking targets preemptively as they got scrammed, not waiting for broadcasts to start applying reps. The rule in HQ fleets was clear: broadcast for reps before you take damage, not after. This reminded me a bit of flying Logi in Alpha Maelstrom fleets, where you would need to get reps on a broadcast ship before it took damage or lose that ship to volley damage.
This was made particularly messy in one type of HQ site, the Provisional Headquarters. This site requires that battleships fit afterburners because there's a long distance to travel between the site's three pockets. Fitting a AB significantly reduced the tanks of some of our shield ships. Combining that with even a short delay in broadcasting or a ship with broadcast settings incorrectly set almost lost us a couple of ships. A Maelstrom dropped into deep armor at one point, despite hitting his broadcast hot-key... only he hadn't programmed it on that computer, so he thought he was broadcasting and he wasn't. And we nearly lost a Nightmare due to a combination of factors. That ship dropped into deep structure before we pulled it back up. I and several other Logi pilots overheated all our reppers to keep him alive. And there were other ships that slipped into armor. My tech 2 armor bots were kept fairly busy. When I could, I took to preemptively assigning my shield bots to another Scimi pilot, just in case, and usually being rewarded with his shield bots preemptively on me in return.
In short, though, the HQ sites were really not all that different from "VG" sites(1). They just took longer -- about 30 minutes -- but had a comparatively equal payout: about 33 million per site. However, where my ten-man fleet had been competing for Vanguard sites, the larger HQ fleet had those sites to ourselves, making the ISK flow more consistent. At one point, I was amused to note that the Logi FC was Mike Azariah, one of the other unsuccessful CSM6 candidates and a frequent EVE Tweeter and blogger that I've had several exchanges with. But he didn't know I was hiding among his Logi pilots because I was logged in as a non-Ripard main.
The mothership site appeared, and there was some confusion about doing the site... but apparently there are rules about when and how to close out an Incursion. In particular, the "mom site" isn't cleared until the Incursion site is withdrawing, to allow players to farm Incursion sites for as long as possible. Again, gotta love EVE players. ;-) So, at first, I didn't think I'd be able to participate in the mom fleet.
I got on very late that night to see how the mom fleet went... only to discover that the local incursion had only just then moved to a "withdrawing" state and a mom fleet was being gathered. It was late, but I decided to participate. Who knew if I'd get another chance? I was accepted into the mom fleet, but warned that the mom site included frequent bomber swarms: ten enemy bombers, each of which would fire a heavy torpedo. I responded that the Scimitar I was flying was freakishly fast and had the sig radius of a thumbtack, and should therefore be able to speed-tank the torps, and was informed to my annoyance that ship speed seems to have no impact on the damage done by these torps. Only buffer and resists would do. I said that I didn't have a Basi, but the Scimi has a near 90% resist to the type of damage the torps would be doing and I'd take my chances.
I was allowed to remain, but noted to my amusement that I was literally the only Scimi in a logi field full to bursting with 16 or 17 Basis. It turned out to be a non-issue, though. I was primaried many times over the course of two days doing Incursion sites, and the Scimi withstood the both HQ and VG sites just fine, particularly with the AB going. For the mom site, each time the bomber wave appeared, I tripped my AB and aligned out... just in case. ;-) Turned out to be unnecessary; I was never primaried during the mom site.
Overall, the mom site struck me as pretty much identical to the HQ sites, with the added fun of five or six ninja looters in destroyers and fast cruisers, there to loot the mom wreck and warp off without being part of the mom fleet. Again, gotta love EVE players. One of the ninja looters was "Rolled Tungsten" in a Catalyst, who the fleet was duly informed was an expert mom site ninja looter. He had apparently looted the mom wrecks of a half-dozen mom sites in recent memory. There was some talk of suiciding one of our fleet ships to get rid of him and then reimbursing that pilot, but that turned out to be just talk. In terms of damage, the site produced less continuous damage than the HQ sites, but more alpha thanks to those bombers. We lost a Basi or two due to bomber alpha. Apparently, there is only one Basi fit that can survive it (see the link above, and I'll make it my FOTW for this week).
To compensate for ship losses and to get the fleet size to the proper number for maximum payout, a couple of people had been encouraged to sign alts into the fleet. These alts were allowed to keep the LP the site dropped, but were told they would have to surrender the ISK reward to compensate the pilots of any lost ships. This was done, and the Basi pilots were reimbursed for their losses. Unsurprisingly, one of the ninja looters got the mom loot. It's impossible to bump destroyers with battleships, and the combination of their great speed and their not having to worry about attacking the rats meant that they could concentrate on waiting for that mom wreck to appear and being close to it when it did. Losing the mom loot was considered a cost of doing business by the FC, with the mom loot being considered less of a requirement and more of a bonus.
All in all, a very interesting couple of days! Running Incursions isn't something I could see as a long-term career in EVE: it's far too repetitive. Still, as a means of actively grinding ISK, in my opinion, it's probably the single most-enjoyable means to do so in the game right now. It's low-risk, social, and the pay-outs are equal to or slightly superior to pre-nerf Sanctum/Haven-running. The ship and skill requirements are generally pretty high, but there were always more than one Raven or Maelstrom in our fleets, so if you're patient, you could get into an Incursion fleet without too much trouble even at lower skill level. And of course, you don't need to move to 0.0 or to a wormhole to participate in incursion fleets.
My thanks to Serenity159080 and lord solo for FCing the various Incursion fleets that I was a part of. Great job, guys!
(1) BTL PUB acronyms:
SF = Shield Fleet
LF = Looking For
VG = Vanguard, the third-hardest sites
AS = Assault, the second-hardest sites
HQ = Headquarters, the hardest sites
Always post your ship fitting into BTL PUB, and preferably your ship type and your location as well. So, "Ripard Teg> Vulture RED LEADER LFHQ Amarr", with RED LEADER linked to a Vulture fit means "Ripard Teg, flying a Vulture with this fitting, looking to join a HQ Incursion fleet in Amarr space." It's also smart to check out the fittings for the ship types you can fly before offering your own. From what I saw, there are a few standard fittings for running Incursions that are favored and are more likely to get you invited into fleets.