Forays of an Incursion noob

One of the things I’ve been keen to try out since resubscribing to EVE is Incursions. They were actually released just prior to when I last stopped playing, but at that time all I knew was that they required a fleet and since I wasn’t in a corp, that was pretty much un-doable. Well, I did try to solo one in my Rattlesnake. Now that I think about it, I shudder from what could have happened. I had no idea what kind of site it was, I just warped in and deployed sentries. I don’t know whether I should be proud of the fact that I did manage to kill a couple of Sansha (don’t remember if they were frigates). I do know that I was scrammed and getting pounded when for some reason they switched scrams to my Garde II’s, allowing me to GTFO out of there and save my Rattlesnake. Die bravely, young Garde II’s, I will always remember you.

Nowadays though, there are quite a few public fleets being formed for Incursions and even some specialized chat channels such as The Valhalla Project that are dedicated to running incursion sites. There is a lot of published information about the spawns in each site and how to run them as easily as possible, as well as recommended fits for all types of ships.

The corp I’ve joined has a few members who regularly run Incursions with the TVP folks, but not enough people to regularly run an all-corp Incursion operation, which was a bit of a disappointment. I really like the atmosphere and core values of this corp, and despite all the good said about the people who run TVP the chat channel still sound mostly like its inhabited by 12 year olds, or even worse, American 20 year old undergraduate jocks. So I’m still very reluctant to run anything with them since it’s not like I’m hard up for ISK, I mostly want to just try them out for fun and I’m not interested in the WoW heroic PUG experience in EVE.

So I was pretty happy when our corp announced an Incursion op a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty late by my standards, but I could afford to stay up late once in a while since our son sleeps much better at night now. I have to admit that one of the reasons why I wanted to run Incursions was that I wanted to fly a new shiny ship, a Nightmare that I bought on a whim a while ago. For some reason, I’ve always been intrigued by the Nightmare. It’s not even that I particularly like the look of it, its so weird and spiky. But back when I was looking at the Machariel, I was debating between buying that or a Nightmare since I had zero skills in either lasers or projectiles so I could go either way. In the end it seemed like I could get a better PVE fit with the Machariel, and I was always worried about the incredible amount of capacitor that lasers drain, not to mention they only do EM and Thermal damage.

In any case, since I had the ISK I went ahead and bought the Nightmare anyway, mentally justifying it as my Incursion ship. I could have used my Machariel, but then I would have to refit the 3x CCC rigs on it for shield extenders and resists, which would hurt it’s missioning capabilities. It would still be doable, but I think it’s fairly apparent that I was just looking for an excuse to buy a Nightmare 😛 I decided on 2 fits for my Nightmare, mostly just following the recommendations for Sniper and DPS fits here.

Sniper

Pulse

I went with the Pulse fit for that first op, since the FC said most of the targets would be close in. Overall the op went pretty well, although I admit that initially I was a bit disappointed in the performance of the Nightmare. I was expecting to be vaping Sansha ships left and right since I was doing EM/Thermal damage, but apparently Incursion NPCs are omni-tanked and just tough little bastards. Also, the range of the faction pulses was a bit of a problem with optimal+falloff of 29 km. I’ve since realised that T2 pulses are really necessary for laser battleships, rather than a simple DPS increase that most other T2 weapons provide. I still have to train Large Energy Turret V for 16 days though, so that’s not happening anytime soon. On the other hand, faction crystals seem to take very little damage and so there is really no reason at all not to use them as the cost is insignificant compared to the amount of Scourge Fury heavy missiles that the Tengu devours.

I tried out the Sniper fit on another corp Incursion op that went on a couple of days ago, since it was an OTA site and the FC said we had to be able to hit out to 50km. This didn’t go so well as it turned out that only one NPC orbited at 50-60 km, and with the Inferno changes to Incursions the old tactic of blitzing this one NPC didn’t work anymore as it was constantly being repaired unless the Override Transfer Array is hacked. The other NPCs all swarmed in at about 10km and made my Tachyons useless. After that first site I reshipped using an Orca SMA back to my pulse fit, especially since we seemed to need extra webbing and my faction web could reach a bit further than the standard 10km. I switched to faction Ultraviolet crystals if I needed to hit further out, but most of the time Multifrequency was good enough.

So overall it was pretty fun and I’m finding the Nightmare pretty fun, if a bit slow after flying the Machariel. I even tried it out in a couple of level 4 missions just for the heck of it despite having non-optimal rigs.

With the tachyons, it really vaporizes Blood Raiders shockingly fast. As expected cap was a problem whenever I had to run the shield booster but running the cap booster solves that. I filled my entire cargo hold with 200 and 400 charges that I had picked up through salvaging, which was fine since I come back with a Noctis to loot anyway. Maybe cap will be less of an issue once I finally train T2 pulses.

My overall feelings about Incursions are mixed though. I love flying with my corpmates in a group op, but the Incursion content itself is kinda meh. Ripard Teg has said in one of his posts that he thinks Incursions are the hardest PVE content EVE has to offer, but I agree wholeheartedly with one of the commenters in this post. I haven’t flown a logistics ship in EVE yet (next thing on the skill plan after T2 lasers) so I can’t really speak from experience but from the sites I’ve done, Incursions don’t seem hard at all. In fact, like most combat in EVE, most of the work is done before you even start targeting the enemy. You just need a proper ship that is fit for buffer and resists (can even be a T1 battleship), an overview setup to display Incursion NPCs and tagged targets, and the ability to target and shoot what you are told to (this last could be a stretch for some people though). If you’ve raid healed in WoW, the “complicated” fights in Incursions are a total joke. There is very little you can do to DPS faster or heal better once in the site since there are no rotations or avoiding damage, just orbit and turn on mods (maybe overheat).

The other thing is that I feel Incursion rewards are way out of line for the almost nonexistent difficulty. 80-100 million ISK an hour absolutely dwarfs any other activity in game, with the possible exception of trading. Just look at the ridiculous number of Machariels, Nightmares and Vindicators floating around any Incursion constellation. These ships are becoming more common than certain unloved T1 ships. There are some players in our corp that have the economic sense of a concussed duckling yet have billions of ISK from running Incursions. It has been noted that nerfing Incursion income will simply make some players stop playing, which tells me that these players have been completely spoilt by the easy ISK that comes from these sites.

I don’t even know why this rubs me the wrong way, as I would normally never say no to easy ISK. I don’t even know if the inflation in the EVE economy is caused by the ISK faucet from Incursions. But somehow something seems wrong with the notion that a pilot who knows absolutely nothing can just fit his ship according to an Incursion guide and tag along with a fleet earning more than a billion ISK a day just following simple instructions like “shoot tags 0-9 followed by A-Z, don’t shoot J”.

Oh noes war-decced

Found this rather amusing. I received this mail on my Jita trader character.

Shiver me timbers! My wife was pretty surprised that people would think of something like this to make money in EVE. As always, never underestimate the creativity of people when it comes to ways of screwing other people over.

They probably thought my corp looked small and vulnerable, since it only has 2 characters in it. Unfortunately, those 2 characters never ever undock, so… Unless they plan to hold another Burn Jita event that quite literally manages to make Jita 4-4 explode, good luck camping the gates waiting for me. I’m trying to think of some way to goad this guy so that he keeps this war-dec active and waste more of his ISK.

Would anyone actually pay such a stupid ransom???

Mining can be a whale of a time

So I mentioned that I would say more about the Orca and why I love it so much.

There are a lot of ships in EVE, but I would have to say that not all of them are game changers. What I mean by that is that they don’t really allow you to do anything that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. For example, a Raven Navy Issue isn’t all that different from a generic Raven, it just does better damage. Similarly, a Hulk isn’t really fundamentally different from a Retriever. It mines more, has a bigger cargohold, and has a better tank but fundamentally you’d still be doing the same thing, just not as efficiently.

The Orca, however, opens up a world of possibilities. It simply provides an insane amount of convenience, especially if you have 2 accounts. It can carry quite a fair amount of stuff, with a total of 90,000 m3 of cargo space (2 cargohold expanders and cargo rigs), 40,000 in the Corporate Hangar Array (CHA), a 50,000 m3 ore hold and a Ship Maintenance Array (SMA) that can carry 400,000 m3 of assembled ships. It aligns and warps decently fast, especially compared to a freighter which is the only other ship that can rival this cargo capacity. You can fit a 100mn afterburner to the Orca and use the align-and-pulse trick to get into warp much faster. Just for comparison, I managed to fly my Orca from Amarr to Jita and back (22 jumps) before my Obelisk was even 2/3 of the way from Amarr to Jita. So it’s actually a better option than a freighter if you are not moving massive amounts of minerals, or have a lot of small assembled ships to move. The SMA can only hold up to battlecruiser sized ships, or 2 Hulks.

The real key to the Orca is the SMA and CHA. Both of these holds can be accessed from space. This is a very unique ability that no other ship in high sec can provide. For one thing, it has actually made mining – gasp – fun!

I used to be very dismissive of mining, primarily because it was mind-numbingly boring and made pathetic ISK. On nights when I didn’t have much time for missions I would sometimes just fit some mining lasers on my battleships and go out and mine some pyroxeres. But the yield was so low and I would be perpetually warping back to the station to dump the pittance I could hold in my cargo hold. I never used a jet-can since that would just make me vulnerable to can-flippers.

But with the Orca, I have a giant mobile jet-can that provides nice mining boosts and I can dump the ore directly into the CHA. It has a decent tank with just 2 large shield extenders and 2 invulnerability fields, so I can just use it to tank all the belt rats and use mining drones in piece without fear of them getting popped. Even better, I can even hide inside the giant jet-can using the SMA if I suspect that someone wants to gank my Hulk. Just keep a cruiser or frigate inside and swap into it instantly if a gank ship warps into the belt. The Orca is immune to all but the most determined gank since it has more than 100,000 EHP with just the shield tank and 177,000 EHP if a Damage Control II is added. It would take more than 10 Tornados to gank it, which is more than the cost of the Orca.

So I’ve actually come to find mining pretty relaxing and fun, since I can just park the Orca next to my mining ship which is positioned close to several asteroids and mine semi-afk, just occasionally dumping the ore into the CHA and moving it into the ore or cargo hold when it gets near full. The recent spike in mineral prices also makes it much more worthwhile, I can easily mine 25 million ISK worth of minerals in about an hour. The Orca boosts are also pretty significant, I definitely notice when I forget to turn them on (and my boost skills aren’t even all at level 4).

Lastly, the Orca also opens up the possibility of having a small-scale mobile base. For example, I’ve always been planning to do some exploration just for fun, but it was always so tedious to move anywhere further than a few jumps from my home base since I’d need to move a probing ship, a combat ship, and maybe a salvage ship. Now with the Orca I can just pack it all inside and bring them all along with me. I can even warp the Orca into the site with me and refit from the SMA on the spot! No more agonizing about whether to fit a codebreaker or analyzer module.

Once you go Orca, you wonder how you ever got along without it…