EVE Evolved: Preparing for Incursion

Several months ago, pirate faction Sansha's Nation began invading the populated systems of New Eden in force and abducting colonists from the defenseless planets. Using a frightening new technology, Sansha's forces have been able to open controlled wormholes directly in orbit of their target planets. CONCORD and the local faction navies have been unable to defend against the incursions, leaving the fate of EVE Online's planets solely in the hands of capsuleers. EVE players immediately began to organise intelligence networks and corporations dedicated to detecting and fighting the Sansha threat.

In the upcoming Incursion expansion, Sansha's Nation will be stepping up its attacks to full-scale invasions of entire constellations. Having converted the millions of colonists they've abducted to mindless drones of the Nation and even having moved a conquered Jovian space station into their hidden wormhole home, Sansha's forces have never been stronger. When the Incursion expansion's main feature goes live in January of next year, players will find themselves on the front-lines of a war. We'll group up in fleets of 5-10, 10-20 or 20-40 players to tackle the various incursion sites and ultimately destroy each invasion wave's mothership. With the first Incursion release scheduled for this month and less than two months to go until the constellation-wide Sansha attacks begin, now is the perfect time to prepare for the expansion.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the ways you can benefit from the upcoming expansion and what players can do to prepare for the war against Sansha's Nation.

Profiting from change

With every expansion, new features and additions to the game have a measurable impact on the in-game markets. If you can predict the impact of those changes before the expansion goes live, you'll be presented with the opportunity to make a profit. Figuring out what changes will impact the market and in what way is the tricky part. Several EVE market experts, such as forum poster Akita T., routinely analyse the market impact of future gameplay changes that could be used to turn a profit. Be careful when taking advice from other players or taking what you read on the forum for granted, however, as it may be part of another player's market manipulation.

The most notable change to the market coming with the November Incursion release is the introduction of faction ships into the general market window. Currently, faction ships can only be bought and sold via the contracts system. When Incursion makes it possible to list them on the market, prices may drop due to increased direct competition for sales. Alternatively, the increased visibility of the ships may lead to more purchases, causing prices to rise. Other things to consider include the announced balance changes to short range tech 2 ammo, which are sure to increase demand for both the ammo and the materials required to invent its blueprints. Rockets will be receiving a similar buff, which could radically increase the value of named and tech 2 rocket launchers if they turn out to be a viable weapon system. Many of these items have already begun rising in price, with initial speculation causing a short-term spike.

Preparing for war in highsec

For players in high-security space, incursions represent a genuine opportunity to group up and tackle some real PvE challenges. The main risk will be from the Sansha force itself, which will be using a variation on the advanced Sleeper AI used in wormhole space. Not only will this make the Sansha ships focus fire and pick high-priority targets like ECM ships and logistics cruisers, but it's also been confirmed that the Sansha ships will be in focused roles. You'll encounter electronic warfare ships, tacklers, bombers, remote-repair squads and significant damage dealers, potentially making the Sansha sites quite similar to PvP. Players will have to think on their feet and co-ordinate well with their groups to overcome these challenges.

Another thing to watch out for is the occasional suicide attack, which will undoubtedly hit people using expensive setups full of officer or deadspace modules. My advice is to leave your expensive toys at home and fly ships with at best tech 2 modules fitted. As this is group content in which the pay scales down if you use too few ships, the encounters will undoubtedly be balanced assuming you use the average number of ships and tech 2 ship fittings. If you're unfamiliar with coordinating a group, I'd advise getting your team together to practice fleet coordination on voice chat by running a few missions together. Although the risk in a mission or exploration complex is minimal, it's a good place for a heavily PvE-oriented corporation to practice fleet coordination.

Preparing for complete and utter hell

While the risks in highsec incursions will be minimal, low-security space and nullsec introduce piracy and open PvP into the equation. You won't just be fighting the Sansha fleet here; you'll also be defending yourself from possible player attack. Incursions in low-security space are likely to be set upon by large corporations, as it's here that the blueprint for the Sansha mothership can drop. Expect all the entry and exit points to the constellation to be camped by at least a few ships. As an attack is all but inevitable, always send a cloaked covert ops scout in ahead of your fleet to estimate the size of the enemy forces and keep watch for incoming reinforcements.

During an incursion, cynosural field generation will be prevented in the affected systems. This means nobody can jump capital ships into the system, but those already present in the system can still be used. Corporations living in lowsec can take advantage of this by staging at least one carrier in every system of a constellation. If an incursion ever happens in that constellation, those carriers will give the corp a tactical advantage in a PvP situation. Remember that while any enemies will be unable to bring their own capital ships into the system during an incursion, carriers can still be taken down with a small fleet of sub-capital ships and should never be fielded without adequate support.

In nullsec, things get even more interesting, as the Sansha system-wide effects will have an impact on the system-capturing mechanics. The system-wide decrease in ship damage output will make it significantly harder for anyone to successfully destroy sovereignty structures like Sovereignty Blockade Units and Territorial Control Units. Similarly, the cynosural jamming effect will make it impossible for anyone to jump in dreadnoughts to shoot at the structures. Claiming systems under the protection of an incursion may become a standard mechanic, forcing alliances to dismantle the Sansha invasion forces to return their systems to normal and re-establish normal defensive procedures. If nothing else, this should make nullsec warfare a bit more interesting.

Summary

With the Incursion expansion scheduled for an immediate staged release, now is the time to begin preparation for the upcoming changes. The November release will contain significant tweaks to tech 2 ammo, rockets and faction ships that are sure to affect the market values for those items. The final release in January will see constellation-wide Sansha invasions hitting New Eden, giving us only around two months to prepare for the inevitable war. Here at Massively, we've been thinking of how we might prepare for the war ahead. A number of readers have suggested that we start a Massively corporation, and the group content in Incursion presents an excellent reason to do so. Expect to hear more on this soon!
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.