What are Incursions?
Incursions are automated events introduced with the Incursion expansion in which the NPC faction known as the Sansha's Nation, led by Sansha Kuvakei, invade space in an attempt to conquer it for themselves. Capsuleers must fight off Sansha's forces in order to return the contested space back into an area which can be more safely occupied.
High-end PvE fleet content
Incursions are high-end PvE fleet content, well above that of regular level four missions and have more in common with level five missions than anything else. The introduction of incursions to the game added some much needed incentive for fleet content in highsec. It also gave people a very controlled environment to train up their skills as a logistics pilot as well as giving people a feel for organized fleets outside of general PvP.
Contrary to missions, incursion fleets rely on buffers and resists supported by logistics ships in order to survive. The ships you face in incursions use electronic warfare, capacitor warfare as well as playing on speed and signature to their advantage. This forces incursion fleets to find ways around that in order to be successful.
Due to the restrictions to fleet size, each member of the fleet matters. You cannot compensate for lack of skill or efficiency by simply adding more ships. As such, incursions are not for the brand new player, but more geared towards those who've spent at least a few months in the game able to fly battleships, logistics or more advanced ships.
A lucrative endeavour
Incursions in highsec are a very profitable activity, assuming you find a community that runs continuous fleets. A normal fleet running vanguard sites can make about 60 million ISK per hour running sites; more advanced fleets have the potential of making 100+ million ISK per hour. Some of the public communities who specialize and exclusively run the larger headquarter sites can easily break 200+ million ISK per hour. Incursions also give you CONCORD loyalty points.
See Incursion sites for more details about payouts and how these sites differ from each other.
Nomadic in nature
Incursions are nomadic by nature with a single focus lasting anywhere from a day up to over a week, forcing the incursion community to constantly move in order to continue taking part of the content. See Spawn mechanics of Incursions below for more information on the spawn mechanics, or the How to find Incursions for more information on how to find them and safely move between incursions.
| The following quote is from the EVE Chronicle Uplifted:
Effects of Incursions
When a constellation comes under the siege from Sansha's forces, the sirens sound in your Captain's Quarters to warn you; the nebulae gets a brownish hue making it obvious that something is different; beacons will appear in your overview; rats are replaced, and you suffer system wide penalties, which all make it harder to continue your usual business in not just the system but the entire constellation.
Read more about the actual sites and how many people it takes to run them on the Incursion sites page, or continue reading if you're just interested in how this affects you being in, or just passing through, an incursion constellation.
The image to the right is an example of what the information panel might look like. The panel will have different names pending on the style of incursion system. In addition to "Sansha Vanguard", there are also "Sansha Staging" and "Sansha Headquarters". Clicking on the "Incursion Profile" part takes you to the Journal and Loyalty Point Log.
Once the Sansha forces withdraw from the constellation or the mothership site is finished, the incursion is over; the information panel will then disappear, and things immediately go back to normal.
During an incursion there are constellation wide penalties. The strength of the tank and weapon penalties are tied to both the level of activity and how much influence Sansha's forces have in the constellation. As players run sites, the Sansha's influence drops, and along with it, the penalties until they are effectively cancelled at zero influence.
These penalties apply to everyone within an Incursion Constellation regardless of whether or not they are actively resisting Sansha's Nation.
Native spawns are replaced
Whenever a constellation is under an incursion, the normal belt rats as well as the rats that spawn in ice belts will be replaced by Sansha Incursion rats. These NPCs will be much stronger, tougher, more deadly than your run of the mill Sansha Mission rats and mining ships; weaker combat ships will stand no chance against them. The rats that spawn in ice belts tend to be larger cruiser- or even battlecruiser-sized ships.
All the mission rats and exploration site rats will remain the same, but if you linger in a completed site or a cleared out pocket, eventually regular rats will spawn every once in a while, and they will be replaced by the Sansha Incursion rats.
Due to the native spawns being replaced and the constellation penalties added, certain activities are discouraged. For example, it's very inefficient to do missions because your income from bounties are cut in half. Mining is also not advised due to the native rats being replaced by much stronger Sansha Incursion rats, not to mention all static belts are turned into Nation Industrial Proxy scout-sites. Exploration however, can often be done without much trouble. Just don't linger too long in a finished site as Sansha will eventually spawn there too (see above).
The Constellation layouts for Incursions page contains a list of all known Incursion Constellations and pages like dotlan and Shadowlauch show active incursions. So while spawning is random for incursions it is quite easy to avoid them entirely.
Gate camps in low and null security space
In low and null security space, the constellations under incursion will have Sansha "gate camps" for lack of a better word. There will be groups of Sansha Incursion rats at gates in these system, catching people unaware of the danger they pose. It is easy to mistake these for normal rats and under-estimate how hard they are to kill, and most importantly, how much of a punch they pack. See the anatomy page for a list of warp disruptor capable incursion rats, or the Sansha's Manual for more information about all of them.
Please keep in mind that Sansha rats are much tougher than normal rats and may prove difficult for lone ships or poorly equipped fleets to handle, it is advised to avoid Incursion systems in low and null security space when possible to avoid unnecessary losses.
Spawn mechanics of Incursions
While it is impossible to predict exactly where a new spawn may occur, or exactly how long it'll last, there are several aspects of their spawn mechanics that are systematic and easy to predict.
Number of Incursions and respawns
There can be up to seven incursions up at any given time, three in highsec and four in low- and nullsec. The incursions will all spawn new incursions in the same type of security space as the one they are replacing. This means that whenever a highsec incursion is despawned, either by Sansha withdrawing or when someone finishes the mothership site, a new highsec incursion will soon spawn in its place.
The delay between an incursion ending and a new one spawning is 12 - 36 hours according to CCP, but there has been respawns recorded to have been delayed for far longer than 36 hours.
While the incursions will spawn in a random constellation, the systems of a given constellation will always have the same type of sites. There is only one requirement for a constellation to be a potential incursions constellation it must have at least 6 systems with the same security status (high, low, null), some systems are also taken out of the "incursion rotation", such as major trade hubs and starter systems.
See constellation layouts for more information on what systems will have vanguard, assault or headquarter sites, without having to visit the constellation first.
Incursions can theoretically last close to eight days (but realistically last much less), and go through three different stages; Established, Mobilized and Withdrawing.
| Incursion established
(up to 5 days)
|Whenever an incursion spawns, this will be the first stage. Sansha Kuvakei's forces are trying to take control of the systems. While beating down the influence seems to increase the chance of a this stage lasting longer, the exact mechanics are unknown (ie, this can be as short as a day).|
| Incursion mobilized
(2 full days)
|The incursion has been around for a bit and Sansha Kuvakei's forces are either getting ready to finish off the incursion or they are losing too much ground and prepare to withdraw from the constellation. This phase always lasts 48 hours unless someone runs the mothership site prematurely.|
| Incursion withdrawing
(1 full day)
|The incursion is ending, either due to Sansha Kuvakei's forces overrunning the constellation or because the incursion community managed to keep them at bay. If the mothership site is not completed within 24 hours, the incursion simply disappears (and no loyalty points are paid out).|
The mothership site can occur as early as within the first established stage, the influence only needs to hit 0% and a single headquarters site must be run. Once the mothership has been sighted, the incursion can be ended by destroying the mothership at any time. As such there is no guaranteed longevity for incursions, other than the brief period before the mothership site is unlocked (which can be mere hours).
Sometimes it's a tactical decision in order to spawn a new incursion for the weekend. Other times they just try to beat the crowd and do it just before it enters the withdrawing stage. Sadly, sometimes they finish the mothership site several days in advance for various personal reasons, often contributed to petty things like hurt egos and lost competitions.
How do I get in contact with a community?
Since joining the same corporation or alliance would leave you wide open for war declarations, incursion runners remain in their corporations and alliances and instead affiliate themselves with various communities. Most communities operate in the same way: They have a public channel that anyone can join with all the information a pilot might need being available in their channel's message of the day. Fits are usually available through mailing lists or some other way that is readily available.
EVE University Incursion Community
EVE University maintains an active Incursion Community of current unistas, alumni and their alts. This community is one of the oldest Incursion communities in EVE Online and is one of the only communities to run under an almost constant state of war. This near constant state of war along with our primary focus of teaching has lead to slightly different operating procedures compared to other communities. See the EVE University Incursion Community page for more information.