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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Monday, September 26, 2011

Practical applications

There's some interesting growing pains happening in the BTL/TDF public incursion channels relating to the drama I posted about last week.  You could call it soul-searching.  You could even call it a borderline civil war.  Either way, it's an interesting situation and deserves to be covered.  However, to cover it adequately, I'm going to have to explore it from a lot of different angles, so hopefully, that won't be too confusing.

I think the easiest place to start will be from a piece I wrote about a month ago detailing my first experience with a low-sec mom.  One of the challenges I mentioned in getting a fleet together to fight a low-sec mom is the fact that only a small percentage of the people that participate in BTL/TDF will go into low-sec.  As I put it in that piece:
But despite bringing in hundreds of millions of ISK per month -- if not billions -- almost none of these high-sec bears want to go into low-sec, even if they have a fleet of 65 or 70 people around them.
Given that the people in this group won't go into low-sec with 65 or 70 people around them, you can just imagine how they feel about going into low-sec with a 10-person Vanguard fleet.  ;-)

That, in itself, makes the low-sec mom more difficult.  Since very few fleets will go into low-sec to do the lower-end incursion sites there, by the time the mom is confronted, the resistance nerf that is part of the incursion experience is still very much in effect.

Hold that thought for a second.

In my incursion guides, particularly in part 2, I go to great lengths to describe the fact that many incursion FCs will shun less-expensive, less "shiny" ships in favor of T3s, pirate faction battleships, and like ships.  The idea here is to maximize the income of an incursion fleet given the amount of time that incursion fleet has to spend.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but elitism has definitely set in.  There are a lot of mid-range incursion FCs would literally rather have two or three missing ships in their fleet than invite a T1 battleship.  They'll actively continue shunning less "shiny" ships, saving those open slots for the first more expensive ship to come along, and only then issue an invitation.

In my guides, I recognize and accept this elitism from a purely practical stand-point.  My purpose in the guide was to tell you how to make your own ship more appealing and useful to incursion fleets.  That usually means a little bling.  In short, I accept this elitist behavior as a given and just skip to helping explain how you -- as a player -- can benefit.  I'm not trying to explore the underlying implications.  No doubt Ian Malcolm would remind me that just because I could do that didn't necessarily mean that I should.  ;-)

But again, hold that thought for a second, too.

Among the most "senior" BTL/TDF incursion FCs, there's a growing frustration with the high-sec ISK-grubbing monster they've created.  Remember, many of them are null-sec ex-pats or alts just trying to make some ISK.  They didn't have any interest in creating a new wave of high-sec bears.  They just wanted to introduce a little bit of organization and process into the previously somewhat chaotic incursion fleets.  To this, they've attempted to add the occasional low-sec PvP roam and related forays into low-sec incursions.  But the wheel is turning in the other direction.

I've personally observed the high-sec incursions become so over-crowded that it's literally impossible to get into a Vanguard fleet without a very expensive T3, command ship, or pirate faction battleship.  While this happens, you've got literally dozens of people forlornly posting fits for T1 battle-cruisers, battleships, and the like.  But when an FC -- even a very senior BTL FC -- offers to take a bunch of these pilots into low-sec and do incursions there, suddenly, all of them go quiet.  ;-)  They would literally rather do nothing than risk even an inexpensive ship in low-sec.

Now granted, a lot of these pilots are relatively new players trying to make the hundreds of millions of ISK they need for early EVE career skill-books and the like.  But a lot more of them are long-time players with very expensive ships in their hangars and hundreds of millions, if not billions of ISK, in their wallets.

So high-sec bears is what the senior BTL/TDF FCs are getting.

As a result, a lot of the most senior members of this crew have been grumbling about what to do next.  A few of them have gotten frustrated and dropped out of FCing.  A few more are looking for ways to redirect some of the energy they've created into other pursuits (like the low-sec roams that I mentioned).  And a couple are getting frustated enough that they've started openly talking about prematurely closing down some of the high-sec incursions to force some of these bears into low-sec incursions if they want to make ISK.

Into this murky amino acid soup, Raver fell like a lightning bolt.

Now, I'm not saying I condone what he did.  I'm not saying that I disapprove of it, either.  I'm also not saying that his motivations were anything like this somewhat-more-noble aspiration to encourage high-sec bears to at least try low-sec.  Chances are, in the end, he was just in it to grief some people.  But I do find it ironic that the senior BTL/TDF people are being forced by the rules that they created to punish someone that at least a few of them have sympathies toward.  Talk about being hoist on your own petard!

The irony hit a new level a couple of days ago when it was discovered that another long-time incursion FC, starfire angel, took part in Raver's two mom kills.  Again, by a strict interpretation of their own rules, the BTL/TDF leadership were forced to add him to the black-list.  I don't think they wanted to.  And apparently, they resisted it for several days.  But they've since given in and starfire is now black-listed.  starfire is, if anything, more respected by large blocks of the incursion-running community than Raver is, and I include myself among that number.  I believe he's every bit as methodical and aggressive as the best null-sec PvP FCs I've flown with, though I recognize that FCing style isn't for everyone.

It's going to be interesting to track this one going forward.  There's already a certain sense of "ownership" about the high-sec incursions among the BTL/TDF leadership... as if anything happening in "their" incursions has to have their sanction.  It's not quite that bad, but it's close.  But with the BTL/TDF leadership being forced to exile respected incursion FCs... it'll be worth watching to see if those exiled FCs have any luck stirring up some competition... and if they do, how many will follow them.

And if some of the normal BTL/TDF crowd start following these competing FCs, it'll be even more interesting to see how the BTL/TDF leadership reacts to it.  Will they start black-listing people who join the fleets of black-listed FCs?  What if those black-listed FCs start completing mom sites  and "prematurely" ending high-sec incursions?  Will the BTL/TDF leadership start black-listing whole fleets?

Even if, by doing so, those exiled FCs are taking the actions that they themselves sympathize with, but can't bring themselves to take?

And what happens if these exiled FCs start accepting less-valuable ships into their fleets en masse, or are successful in leading fleets into low-sec?  Wouldn't that pull a lot of people who aren't having any luck in the current system into the arms of the exiles?

All in all, interesting times are ahead, if you're an incursion-runner.


  1. Regarding your income estimate in the 3rd paragraph, from everything I have seen, I would say your numbers are quite conservative. Even a horribly led, "kitchen-sink" VG fleet will get a payout ever 10 minutes or so. At a bare minimum of 60 million ISK per hour, one can quite easily take in 1 billion per week. But, thats just my two cents.

    As far as elitism goes, I think you hit it spot on. I do want to point out that recently I have seen a few/some FCs forming anti-shiny, kithen-sink fleets of those players normally relegated to a night of posting their BC fit and never getting an invite. I applaud this.

  2. I humbly suggest that many Incursion runners are ISK-farming alts for null sec denizens who don't want to go to low sec simply because they already spend most of their time in null sec.

    In addition, there's the big scary "hot drop" monster under the bed. One moment you're in an Incursion system with only purples in local, the three systems next door are empty except for your eyes in local. Next moment someone has logged in, lit a cyno and you have a super cap fleet on top of you, smart bombing all the gates to get into sites, fighters assigned to their fleet mates to harass you inside the sites - not a pretty picture.

    Addressing that fear is the key to getting the true hisec care bears into low sec incursions. Showing people that hot drops can be easily avoided, that reds in local doesn't always mean "OMG WE ARE GOING TO DIE", and that losing a ship doesn't necessarily mean losing a pod: these are the tasks ahead of anyone trying to get the true care bears into dangerous waters.

    Of course, it would also help if cynos had to spool up for a few tens of seconds before capital ships could jump through. But that's a different fight.

    Which Incursion-running faction can master the art of training care bears to be fearless? Is such a thing possible?

    IMHO anyone flying non-shiny ships should be focussing on getting into assault/HQ fleets. Due to the lower ISK/hr of assault/HQ sites, the shiny fleets tend to avoid them.

  3. You can't cyno into an incursion constellation. Every incursion system is cyno-jammed. You also can't use bubbles to bubble an incursion fleet in low-sec. Meaning that taking some routine precautions in terms of intel-gathering should be enough to keep a Vanguard fleet safe from anything large enough to be a threat to it, much less an Assault fleet.

  4. Time to fit some Maels and scimis and go to lowsec?

  5. Merely keep an eye on the numbers in the Incursion regional channel and you don't even need scout alts in ajoining systems to get a heads up on a potential enemy gang.

  6. The ignorance of this players when it comes to what incursion penalties mean, and how low sec pvp works astonishes me as can be seen by Mara Rinn comment, he's not the only one though.

    Incursions are full of elitist pricks, given up on trying that a long time ago, like a month after they were implemented due to how asshat they can be, still make bills in null anyway...

  7. Best to join the lowsec fleets in a Jump Clone? Would hate to lose my expensive carebear implants...

  8. I find it interesting that Goonswarm owns losec incursions, and these bears own hisec incursions. Especially since it's not that challenging to fit a PvP/Incursion ship which is ideal in a losec incursion (or at least my armchair EFT says so).

    I'm personally more interested in getting into losec incursions because the ISK/hr would be higher, and as a losec resident it doesn't scare me (and I don't care about losing ships).

  9. How is it that GSF "owns" low-sec incursions?

  10. I've had my 1.5b isk Tengu called 'scrub dps' by FC's in BTL Pub. Yes, the elitism is this bad. And yes, I do understand that turret dps is optimal. Still...

  11. I'd say its the logis that are preventing lowsec fleets from forming as they can get into shiny fleets just as easily as any other fleet so they have no incentive to risk lowsec.

  12. Just to stir the pot a little...
    I am a fairly new player to EVE (17m sp), but i was fortunate enough to join a WH alliance almost from the get-go. I joined the incursions just recently and straight in with a T2 fitted Mach. What i don't understand and what surprises me most is how isk-grabby people get after discovering incursions. I have witnessed it in myself, where after i made a first Bill in incursions, i decided to pay for my account with money, simply to keep the isk, that i had no problem spending before.

    It almost seems like the faster you make ISK, the more you want to keep it as if incursions was a gold mine about to run out.

    My question is, is it really a gold mine about to run out or is it here to stay? Has the introduction to incursions already irreversibly changed the way we play? And is it possible that when people realize that their isk-printing machine will remain functional, they will become more prone to a little "fear" factor down in low-sec ? Just food for thought.

  13. GSF "owns" lowsec incursions because they have routinely killed any highsec fleet that comes out to kill them or the incursion. But really the problem isn't the GSF or CFC, the problem is the willingness of BTL/TDF pilots to take out a simple, cheap ship to lowsec. A fleet of canes and drakes, which cost an incursion pilot less than an hour's worth of vanguard running, would do great in these situations. However, the pilots aren't willing to take these ships, nevermind more shiny ships.

    Another problem, that stems back to the same thing, is formup time. The last lowsec mom that BTL tried to run that I can remember had a 2-3 hour formup time. In that time, GSF/CFC formed up a full alphamaelstrom fleet and got to the mothership site shortly after the BTL fleet. If BTL had formed up faster, that wouldn't have been able to have happened, and they likely would've ran the site and gotten out successfully.

    Of course the other problem is that the people that FC these fleets are usually not the most experienced with lowsec, which leads to further complications. So yes, the GSF basically does own lowsec incursions, but that could be easily changed.

  14. Hi I'm a tdf fc. Jester you have all of the facts wrong in post bud. You completely took away all of the truth of the drama and inserted your opinion instead of stickin to the facts. Next time - please feel free to contact tdf or btl.

    1) btl does pvp roams for fun
    2) no the fcs in btl and tdf have NOT received bans bcause they want the community to go to low sec. They did it to grief.
    3) Raver made a public statement in btl on audio to tell everyone how happy he is to make people mad

    This has nothing to due with "fcs" wanting to go to low sec. There is 0 division right now in tdf/btl leadership on starfire angel or raver. They broke the agreement, they acknowledged what they had done, they laughed. As such they are banned from both channels.

  15. Hi, I started doing incursions about 2 weeks ago, just in time to see much of this drama unfold. I like that incursions require high end skills and mods- "shiny" ships with good pilots.... and love that incursion fleets aren't newbie Drake blobs like every other kind of combat PVE is. I can understand the frustration for pilots who can't get into fleets, but this is created by the competetive nature of incursions- if you don't win, you don't get paid.(and I love that about incursions as well)

    They should just close the losec incursions,theres already enough trust issues involved in high sec incursions and if you can get any kind of fleet together and directed toward losec, you might as well just forget PVE and go purely for the PVP.

    And,while on the subject of elitism... the term "Care Bear" is an elitist term, used by people that believe that everybody in high sec is undeserving of respect and undeserving of ISK and nice ships, and that we should all be in null sec or in a state of perpetual war, using the credit card to pay for ships instead of farming for ISK in PVE....so who is the real elitist in this situation?

  16. Do losec incursions pay more money? (more risk, more isk?) Or do they pay the same as high sec incursions but you make less money because you are flying in cheaper ships and spending the extra time to watch for ganks? (or worse, losing money by getting ganked?)

    If the latter is the case than it's pretty easy to understand why it's so hard to motivate people to do the losec ones.

  17. "I've had my 1.5b isk Tengu called 'scrub dps' by FC's in BTL Pub. Yes, the elitism is this bad. And yes, I do understand that turret dps is optimal. Still..."

    I feel for pilots that struggle to catch fleets in the incursions, I really do.... except if they fly Drakes or Tengus- the fact that those two vastly over used "easy button" ships are suddenly sub-par for incursions is 100% SOLID GOLD in my book.

  18. As an FC "care bear" runner I think I need to put my own 2 isk worth into this pot.

    To start with - "shiny fleets". I admit this has become a slight issue in my own eyes as I have seen many vessels overlooked for fleets because they are not "faction super shiny billion isk worth" ships. Personally I will take whomever I can, except a drake (sorry guys). I do set my fleets up in a particular way - logi first, then web vessels (if I am not flying my loki/bhaalgorn) then dps. Now yes I admit I do look for those webbing vessels, its a habit and with bs's in a fleet a necessity. After those 5 slots are filled (web & logi) I move to dps and I will take kitchen sinks. We all started somewhere in this game and I remember flying my Abaddon to start with because i had nothing else. Hell I have run with maelstroms, apocs, canes and my loki before now. You just need to know who is willing to take those people on, but admittedly assaults and hq fleets are a better bet on getting into fleets for t1 vessels.

    Just my 2 isk worth


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