Incursions happen. I had to deal with them when I was doing the Minmatar COSMOS missions in Metropolis' Ani constellation. Back then I just decided to go somewhere else as the shiny fleets of the Incursion runners farmed the content. When I logged in Tuesday night to do a little ice mining I saw that the forces of Sansha Kuvakei had found me again. The difference now compared to the situation in December 2011 is that I now live in low sec.
Why does the the location matter? Because the shiny fleets do not enter low sec as their ships draw pirates like moths to a flame. So the war between the Minmatar and Amarr militias will move to other constellations and most pilots will retreat to areas not affected by Master Kuvakei's influence. But a few of us are sticking around trying to go about our daily lives.
On Tuesday night I decided to continue with my plan to do some ice mining. I hoped to take people by surprise because who's going to go ice mining in the middle of an incursion? The good news was that when I arrived in system to board the Procurer I had stashed in a station I only had to worry about one other pilot. The bad news was he was a 2003 pilot with a -9.8 security status belonging to the notorious pirate corporation The humbleless Crew [THC2], but I thought I could chance it as I was going to fly in my standard two-ship Procurer/Hound gang. The pirate stayed out of sight but a Sansha's Nation battleship with two frigates as escorts warped in, jammed Wandering Rose in her mining barge, and opened up with some accurate and powerful fire. I tried to align and warp to a celestial but the warp button wouldn't work. I eventually selected a station and hit dock to effect my escape.
I had Rosewalker on overwatch observing and once Wandering Rose was out of danger I decided to test the Sansha ships. Unfortunately I was immediately jammed and with the frigates closing in I warped off, frustrated at not firing a single volley. After all the action I only managed to come away with 1000m3 of Dark Glitter ice.
Unlike the past when I would just move on, I came up with a plan. The ice belt is almost 300 km long, with the valuable Dark Glitter at one of the ends. I decided that I would attempt to play ping-pong with the Sansha forces. I would mine the Dark Glitter until the Sansha arrived and then I would warp off to the other end and begin mining a less valuable flavor of ice. Then when the Sansha finally caught up, I would warp back to the good spot. Sounds good, right?
I should have known things would not go according to plan. The warning was what I saw when flying to pick up some skill books. The Sansha were beginning to camp the gates in 3-4 ship gangs. Thankfully I didn't have to move my Procurer so I busted through the gate camps and got into position, with Wandering Rose mining away and Rosewalker cloaked in the Hound on overwatch watching traffic using the directional scanner.
While I was alone in the ice belt, dscan showed a Mackinaw and a Bestower operating in the area. The Bestower may have sat at a POS in the area but the Mack pilot apparently also decided to use the incursion as a distraction to get some work done. Pilots would come and go but everyone was pretty peaceful. Everyone except the Sansha.
I managed to collect 9,000 m3 of Dark Glitter before the standard formation of a battleship and two frigates dropped in for a visit. I was immediately jammed but managed to quickly warp to the other end of the belt some 240 km from the Sansha. Either I didn't wait long enough for the jamming effects to wear off or those ships have some really powerful jammers as I stayed jammed. In hindsight I think I may have gotten too excited but with my ore hold 3/4 full of ice I decided not to press my luck and I warped back to the station and safety.
After transferring the ice to my home station I decided to do the level 3 storyline mission that I was offered on Sunday. I needed to collect 10,000 units of omber and deliver it 3 systems away. That was easy as the first belt I visited was clear of Sansha and collecting that much only took two cycles of the mining lasers. I then picked everything up and made my delivery, collecting a +3 memory implant as a reward.
I should add that during this entire time the Sansha forces were strengthening their gate camps. Gates that were clear before sported 3-4 ships while some of the existing gate camps were up to six NPC ships. At one of the gates I even took fire before I could jump through. I escaped untouched but I need to take some care and may even resort to using my bookmarks to come in at unexpected angles to the gates. I never thought I'd have to resort to trickery to get past an NPC gate camp, but if the camps get bigger in the coming days I may start.
Because I play 3 games I could just go ahead and play the other two until the incursion goes away. But the growth of the presence of the Sansha in the constellation has me intrigued. Just how prevalent will the Sansha become? Will they begin camping stations? If the trend continues I may begin taking screenshots just to document the terror Master Kuvakei's minions instill among the residents who become trapped.