Co-ordinating the actions of an entire fleet is not an easy task, but EVE provides several tools to make things more manageable. The game's built-in voice chat provides fleets with a simple way to communicate that doesn't require participants to download a client. To coordinate fire and call for help, the broadcast pane in the fleet window is your most useful tool. Buttons on this pane allow pilots to signal to the fleet's logistics ships that they are in need of armour, shield, or capacitor. Fleet, wing or squad commanders can issue the order to target a particular Sansha ship by right clicking it and selecting the "Broadcast target" option.
When a target is broadcasted, members of the fleet will see a target icon over the selected ship on the main screen and overview. However, this is extremely buggy and often displays on the wrong target, which can lead to massive problems in a fleet. The solution to this is to ask all fleet members to open the broadcast window and ctrl-click on the target entries as they appear. This window will always display the correct broadcast, regardless of bugs that affect the overview.
An alternative strategy is to ask all fleet members to enable the "tags" column in their overview options. The fleet commander will then be able to tag individual enemies with a number or a letter to identify them uniquely and then call out which enemy to focus fire on over voice chat. In medium-sized Vanguard and Assault encounters, I've always found that tags work much better than broadcasts as they help players to easily identify and pre-lock the next target in the sequence.
The order in which ships should be taken down depends largely on the composition of your fleet. Assuming you're using logistics ships as your fleet's main tanking force, the biggest threat to the fleet will come from ECM ships. Most logistics ship fittings for incursions include at least one ECCM module to help resist target-jamming, but interruptions are still common in encounters with ECM. If your group has any battleships in it, Sansha bomber frigates should be your next priority as these deal incredible damage to ships with a large signature radius. Groups with only battlecruiser-sized hulls and below can safely leave these frigates until any other pressing targets are dealt with.
Some fleet commanders prioritise warp-disrupting ships highly, but if your group is ever forced to warp out, then it's done something gravely wrong. If your fleet isn't very high on damage, enemies with remote repair capabilities should be next on the priority list. Groups with plenty of DPS may find that the repairing isn't much of an obstacle to overcome and so may opt to attack other targets first. Similarly, if your group is struggling to tank or has any ships without much buffer fitted, you should prioritise ships without special abilities as these are primary damage-dealers and hit hard.
Next on your priority list should be Sansha ships with energy neutralisers, though these are typically not a huge threat. If your logistics pilots have set up a capacitor transfer chain, they'll be generating much more capacitor than they will need, and they can top up any ships that get neutralised. Taking out neutralising ships before finally dealing with standard damage-dealers can make life a little easier for the logistics pilots. In some sites, reinforcement waves will periodically warp in and engage. Judge each threat as it comes in and be ready to switch to any new high-priority targets such as ECM ships or bomber frigates.
To be as prepared as possible for the Sansha encounters, it's valuable to know which NPCs are ECM specialists, remote repair support, energy neutralisers and bombers ahead of time. Below is a list of Sansha NPCs with special abilities other than stasis webbing or warp scrambling, courtesy of the number-crunchers at chruker.dk. A full list can be found at chruker.dk, though remember that the Slave ships featured on that list are from events and won't be encountered during incursions.
In PvP, good target-calling and focus fire means the difference between victory and defeat. The same can be said of incursions, as poor target-calling or prioritisation can lead to an embarassing ship loss or two. In this article, I tackled the top strategies for calling targets clearly and constructing a mental priority list. The ships named above are those that you should keep in mind when running incursion sites, as they're usually high priority targets. Keep an eye on the EVE Evolved column
for further installments of my guide to incursions as I get more experience with them. I may write about other topics for a week or two, but I'll definitely be coming back with another part of this guide once I've had more experience with the larger encounters.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.